The first British cinematographer to shoot in Technicolor, Jack Cardiff played a heavy role in shaping what our idea of color film photography could do, and set a standard others have struggled to reach. After graduating from a job as Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s camera operator to the team’s cinematographer, Cardiff put his stamp on three movies that can be called, without exaggeration, among the most beautiful-looking ever made: A Matter Of Life And Death (a.k.a. Stairway To Heaven), Black Narcissus, and The Red Shoes. The first—divided between a stark, black-and-white Heaven and an Earth that looks too beautiful to be real—captured the extent of Cardiff’s talents. By the time the collaboration ended with The Red Shoes in 1948, he’d mastered an ability to use color to create a dreamlike state. Cardiff’s career didn’t end there: He shot notable films from The African Queen to Rambo: First Blood Part II, and branched out into directing, most notably with an adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s Sons And Lovers. Cardiff died in 2009 at the age of 94. The following year saw the release of Craig McCall’s documentary about his life and work. It bore the only title that made sense: Cameraman.
September 18, 2014 newsreel