Cameraman: Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010) (Docu of Cinematographer/Director)

“Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff,” the fascinating, significant, and handsomely mounted feature documentary, chronicles the extraordinary contribution of Jack Cardiff to international cinema as a child actor, Oscar-winning cinematographer (“Black Narcissus”) and celebrated director (“Sons and Lovers”).

 “Camera”Cameraman has been selected to screen at the 2010 Cannes Film Fest as part of the prestigious “Cannes iCannes Classics,” a program of restored or rediscovered films now being re-released in cinemas or on DVD.
As directed by Craig McCall, “Cameraman” illuminates a unique figure in British and international cinema, a man whose life and career are inextricably interwoven with the history of film over a period of nine decades. 
For me one of the tests of a good documentary is that after seeing a film, you want to know more about the subject and the socio-historical context in which he lived. This is certainly the case of “Cameraman,” a docu that could have been longer, as almost ever clip and interview in it is riveting to watch. Here is a film about a seminal technician and innovative artist that should be essential viewing for every film student and a must-see cinephiles and lovers of film history.
Born on September 18, 1914, in Yarmouth, England, Cardiff entered British films as a child actor. At the age of 13, the bright boy was already at work as a camera assistant, and in his late teens, began serving as camera operator, later working on “Wings of the Morning,” considered to be the first British color film.
During WWII, serving with the Crown Film Unit of the Ministry of Information, he photographed several documentaries, including “Western Approaches,” in 1944.
After the War, he became one of the U.K.’s most distinguished lensers, providing dazzling color images to two of the most favorite films of the era, Black Narcissus in 1947 and the cult film The Red Shows in 1948, both co-directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.
He embarked on a director’s career in 1958 with “Intent to Kill” and two years later made the black-and-white drama. Sons and Lovers,” which was nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture, Director, and Actor (Trevor Howard), winning the B/W Cinematography Oscar for Francis Freddie (also a distinguished craftsman).
In this poignant insight into Jack’s life and work, the master himself explains how he helped elevate cinematography to an art form and made history with his groundbreaking vision and technical wizardry in “A Matter Of Life And Death,” “The Red Shoes,” “The African Queen,” “The Vikings,” and many others. 
Packed full of fascinating revelations and anecdotes, the film sees Jack relate what it was like to work with Hollywood’s greatest icons including Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Kirk Douglas and Sophia Loren, as well as a host of directors including John Huston and Alfred Hitchcock. 
In 2001, 54 years after winning his first Oscar for the stunning Technicolor cinematography on Black Narcissus, Jack Cardiff became the first Cinematographer ever presented with an Honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement. 
“Cameraman screened” at the BFI in London last week with a special introduction by Martin Scorsese, who described the late director as: “One of the last pioneers of movie-making and one of the first artists that gave us colour. Jack was able to create images of heart-stopping beauty and dynamism.  Once seen, his images are never forgotten, they will never fade.”  
Featuring stunning HD clips from classic movies and interviews with actors, directors and technicians including Martin Scorsese, Charlton Heston and Lauren Bacall, Cameraman explores Jack’s life and work in compelling detail, scope and intimacy.  Scorsese passionately guides us through Jack’s films, explaining how they impacted upon him, and how they influenced scenes in his own films including Raging Bull, as well as the work of other filmmakers including Brian de Palma and Francis Ford Coppola. 
The Cannes Classics also includes a few documentaries which showcase historical and iconic film footage or explore leading figures in the history of film.
Credits
Directed by Craig McCall
Co-produced by Richard McGill for Modus Operandi films