Jack Cardiff






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        Cinematographer
        H I S  L I F E


        Jack Cardiff (1821-81). The Godfather of Cinematography.


          'With Jack Cardiff's work you are bathed in colour.'
          - Martin Scorsese


        The greatest lighting cameraman in the world. An observation on Jack Cardiff than no less than Screen International. Cardiff was born in Yarmouth on 18 September 1914. His life and career encompasses the history of British and international cinema...more


        jack cardiff



        An observation on Jack Cardiff than no less than Screen International. Cardiff was born in Yarmouth on 18 September 1914. His life and career encompasses the history of British and international cinema.

        He made his screen acting debut at four in My Son, My Son (1918) and worked behind the scenes as a camera assistant from his early tens.

        In the mid-thirties he was operating the camera on Alexander Korda productions such as The Ghost Goes West (1936).

        He learned his colour techniques on one of Britain's first Technicolor films, Wings of the Morning (1937), perfecting his skills on the epic The Four Feathers (1939).

        During the war he worked on colour travelogues and documentaries for the Ministry of Information and his Western Approaches (1944) is a classic of the genre.


          Cardiff was heavily influenced in his use of colour and light by the paintings of Vermeer, van Gogh and Turner


        After the war he met Michael Powell with whom he would work on a triology of innovative Technicolor classics A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948).

        With an Oscar under his belt for Black Narcissus, Cardiff was established as the pre-eminent cinematographer, noted for his breath taking and imaginative use of light and colour.

        Cardiff has worked with the directorial elite including Hitchcock on Under Capricorn (1949), Huston on The African Queen (1951) and Laurence Olivier on The Prince and the Showgirl (1956). He was a favourite photographer of actresses, capturing the beauty of stars such as Ava Gardner, Ingrid Bergman and Marilyn Monroe, who called him "the best in the world".

        He also enjoyed a significant directorial career, Oscar nominated for the D.H. Lawrence adaptation Sons and Lovers (1960). Cardiff also helmed the cult Marianne Faithful vehicle Girl on a Motorcycle (1968).


          In an often heated collaboration with the production designer Alfred Junge, Cardiff filmed all the scenes of the Himalayas of Black Narcissus at Pinewood Studios. So real and astonishing looking were the sets that people wrote to Cardiff saying they knew where in the Himalayas the scenes were set. Astonishing cinematography, the whole film is bathed in a colour you thought was only reserved for Heaven


        Cardiff continued to work into his eighties. His skill at illuminating the epic, the tragic and the fantastic was used in work as diverse as The Last Days of Pompeii (1984) - for TV and Rambo: First Blood, Part II (1986). At the 2001 Oscars, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Academy Award, only the second Englishman ever to do so. His autobiography The Magic Hour was critically acclaimed on its publication in 1996.


        He died of natural causes on 22nd April 2009 and is survived by his wife and four sons. With his passing coming just a few months after that of the actress Kathleen Byron we are left with no living links to the iconic Black Narcissus.

        Jack Cardiff Dvds @ amazon.co.uk
        Scott of the Antarctic Movie Review
        Pandora & The Flying Dutchman Movie Review/Gallery

        © - Paul Page (2011)

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        Powell and Pressburger vintage film posters @ ebay.com (direct link) - they do appear from time to time



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