Cameraman: The Life & Work of Jack Cardiff

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Movie Info

This documentary explores the life of Jack Cardiff, a former child actor who went on to achieve great things in film. But Cardiff didn't excel in front of the camera; he mastered the camera itself, using his painting background to perfect the art of lighting in cinema. Cardiff's talent as a cinematographer is seen in clips from some of his most acclaimed works, like "Black Narcissus" and "The Red Shoes," while the praise of luminaries like Martin Scorsese cements his legend.

Cast & Crew

Mason Cardiff
Executive Producer
Chris Roff
Executive Producer
Julie Williams
Executive Producer
Mark Sayer-Wade
Original Music
Steven Chivers
Cinematographer
Simon Fanthorpe
Cinematographer
Ricardo Coll
Cinematographer
Nicholas Hoffman
Cinematographer
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News & Interviews for Cameraman: The Life And Work Of Jack Cardiff

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

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (28) | Rotten (1)

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

  • Jun 21, 2012
    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
  • Jul 08, 2011
    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 B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 24, 2011
    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 <i>A Matter of Life and Death</i>, 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 <i>12 Monkeys</i> 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, <i>Cameraman</i> serves as a thoroughly entertaining digest of Jack's autobiography, <i>Magic Hour</i>. If you like what you see here, I urge you to read his excellent book.
    Stephen M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 19, 2011
    A vibrant and joyous celebration of perhaps the greatest cinematographer of all time. It's like being in the presence of a master. A strong and admiring documentary detailing Cardiff's tremendous work.
    Matthew L Super Reviewer

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