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Cameraman: The Life And Work Of Jack Cardiff (2011)


Average Rating: 7.6/10
Reviews Counted: 27
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 1

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Average Rating: 7.5/10
Critic Reviews: 11
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 0

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 668




Movie Info

Jack Cardiff's career spanned an incredible nine of moving picture's first ten decades and his work behind the camera altered the look of films forever through his use of Technicolor photography. Craig McCall's passionate film about the legendary cinematographer reveals a unique figure in British and international cinema. -- (C) Strand

Documentary , Television
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Aug 16, 2011
Box Office:
Independent Pictures - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Cameraman: The Life And Work Of Jack Cardiff

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (1) | DVD (2)

Although we never really learn much about his life outside the movies, by the end of the film we are in awe of his work accomplishments.

Full Review… | July 28, 2011
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

"Cameraman" should be required viewing for anyone interested in becoming more visually literate in an ever-more-media-drenched age.

Full Review… | July 8, 2011
Washington Post
Top Critic

Cardiff was the greatest color cameraman who ever lived.

Full Review… | June 23, 2011
Boston Globe
Top Critic

The lack of personal detail can be frustrating. Yet it suits its subject's gentlemanly reserve.

Full Review… | June 2, 2011
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Even with its tightly cropped approach, this is still a fascinating look at a too-neglected craft.

Full Review… | May 13, 2011
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic

Chiming in for this breezy tribute filled with tantalizing clips is a who's who of admirers, including Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, John Mills and Kim Hunter.

Full Review… | May 13, 2011
New York Post
Top Critic

McCall draws on Cardiff's life-long love of painting to adopt a similarly impressionistic style, brushing broad sweeps of anecdote and recollection about the cameraman on to his canvas to create a complex and emotionally engaging picture.

Full Review… | February 9, 2013
Eye for Film

It's the images seen through Cardiff's lens that makes Cameraman such a joy to watch.

Full Review… | August 6, 2011

For the cinéaste, it's required viewing.

Full Review… | July 8, 2011
Washington City Paper

Cameraman gives us insight into how and why movies manage to swallow us up for two hours and make us think we understand places, eras, and feelings we've never experienced.

Full Review… | June 22, 2011
Boston Phoenix

After years of DVD special features, even dedicated buffs may be somewhat blasé about a film that takes us behind the scenes to explore one man's career...but this is no ordinary documentary, and its subject is no ordinary filmmaker. Jack Cardiff was a...

Full Review… | June 3, 2011
Leonard Maltin's Picks

Unfolds in a very liner fashion, and lacks a real spine, but full of some great anecdotes, and shines a light on one of cinema's quiet, under-recognized groundbreakers.

Full Review… | June 3, 2011

As captured by McCall, Cardiff has a palpable joie de vivre, an impish way with an anecdote and inventive solutions for capturing images.

Full Review… | May 22, 2011
Reeling Reviews

The unsurpassed work of cinematographer Jack Cardiff is gloriously featured in one of the best filmmaking documentaries ever made.

Full Review… | May 13, 2011
Film Journal International

This is strictly talking heads fare, broken up with movie clips, stills and home movies; fortunately, Jack Cardiff's ephemera are better than yours.

Full Review… | April 29, 2011
Boxoffice Magazine

A respectful documentary about the man who is arguably the greatest cinematographer of all time, Jack Cardiff.

Full Review… | April 27, 2011

Audience Reviews for Cameraman: The Life And Work Of Jack Cardiff

Ah, this one takes me back. I was at college in Cardiff in the late Nineties, and I remember finding out at very short notice - like, that very day! - about a special screening of A Matter of Life and Death, to be followed by a Q&A session with that film's cinematographer, Jack Cardiff. A couple of friends and myself dashed down to this little arthouse cinema tucked away in the suburbs of Cardiff, only to be told that we couldn't possibly get in because they'd already sold out! As arrogant as I was naïve at that time, it probably hadn't even occurred to me that there would be other people interested in seeing this show; surely I was the only Powell & Pressburger fanatic in the whole of the British Isles, let alone the Welsh capital. Anyway, I remember the evening wasn't a complete waste of time because we disconsolately shuffled off to watch 12 Monkeys instead, but I still feel a pang of disappointment at missing out on seeing the great man in person. Apart from the depressing fact that so many of the contributors to this documentary, seventeen years in the making, have, like Jack, now passed on, Cameraman serves as a thoroughly entertaining digest of Jack's autobiography, Magic Hour. If you like what you see here, I urge you to read his excellent book.

Stephen M

Super Reviewer


A doc on a genius whose resume includes The Red Shoes and Rambo.
So many more movie to watch.

Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

At first, this documentary seems most interested in pointing out that master cinematographer Jack Cardiff was still working at the age of 91 after a very long career. He started out as a child actor before becoming almost entirely self-taught, as he learned more from a pornographic novel than school. But then it gets down to the nitty gritty of his work that spans from "Black Narcissus" to "Rambo: First Blood Part II" with a special interest in his innovations in the use of color film in 1940's England, with a glancing mention of the 13 films he directed.(Note to self: get around to seeing "Sons and Lovers" one of these years.) The documentary's anecdotal structure becomes problematic in other ways, too, especially in how often the movie goes off topic, favoring star power over technical expertise, although the home movies Cardiff shot on set almost make up for some of that.

And even then, the documentary can be maddeningly inaccurate. For example, it is nice to know Michael Powell was so fearless in the movies he made with Emeric Pressburger. However, "The Red Shoes" was not Powell's undoing. In reality, it turned out to be "Peeping Tom," made without Pressburger to hold him back.(Don't let that stop you from seeing it, though.) Plus, this documentary is framed by making a big deal about Cardiff's being belatedly given an honorary Oscar in 2001 but I looked it up and he won one for cinematography for "Black Narcissus" in 1947.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer


The most amazing thing about Jack Cardiff is the span of his career. This doc doesn't give us a lot of insight into his personal life, but does take us back with images of his parents as extras in early silent films. He was a child actor in silents before moving behind the camera. Then he was instrumental in developing the use of vibrant technicolor movies in the late '30s and became a major collaborator with Powell and Pressburger in the '40s. He took up directing a handful of movies for the next couple decades before returning to cinematography for good with several thrillers that might seem unexpected based on his earlier work. Many clips and behind-the-scenes shots are shared. Many actors and other filmmakers share stories about working with Cardiff. The talking heads are full of compliments, however unlively, and this doc doesn't go very deep.

Byron Brubaker

Super Reviewer

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