Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography

1993, NR, 92 min. Directed by Arnold Glassman, Todd Mccarthy, Stuart Samuels.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., April 30, 1993

If you can get past that RTF 301 title, what you'll find here is an extremely engrossing meditation on an aspect of most films that few people consciously think of: that is, the directors of photography who create a film's “look.” Genuinely engaging, this is 90 minutes of pure, unadulterated fun, loaded with clips from everything from Lawrence of Arabia to Jaws, and from Do the Right Thing to The Night of the Hunter. This documentary's co-directors have rounded up some of the most important cinematographers in film history and given them a format in which to voice their ideas on the nature of their jobs and how they created these spectacular films. Nestor Almendros -- in his last interview -- discourses on his Days of Heaven, Michael Ballhaus reveals why he used the old film school trick of “zoom in/pull back” in Scorsese's GoodFellas, Michael Chapman comments on his work in both Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, and David Lynch's right-hand man, Frederick Elmes, reveals how he had to pull the images of Eraserhead out of the director with, at best, difficulty. Twenty-seven DP's are interviewed in all, and their comments are incisive, witty, and utterly interesting. After all, it's not often that the public gets a glimpse into the minds of these amazing men. One qualm I had after it was over was noting that none of Alfred Hitchcock's cinematographers were presented. It would have been nice to hear how Robert Burks shot North by Northwest, but that's a minor quibble at best. Visions... demands to be seen in a darkened theater -- it will hardly play as well on tape -- so catch it while it's here. Majoring in RTF not required.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Films
Bad Newz
A pregnant woman tries to determine which of her two suitors is the father

July 19, 2024

Widow Clicquot
Biopic details the true story behind the "Grande Dame of Champagne"

July 19, 2024

More by Marc Savlov
Remembering James “Prince” Hughes, Atomic City Owner and Austin Punk Luminary
Remembering James “Prince” Hughes, Atomic City Owner and Austin Punk Luminary
The Prince is dead, long live the Prince

Aug. 7, 2022

Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone
Texas-made luchadores-meets-wire-fu playful adventure

April 29, 2022


Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography, Arnold Glassman, Todd Mccarthy, Stuart Samuels

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle