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  • Cinematographer Style [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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Cinematographer Style [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

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Region 1 encoding. (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 16 reviews
65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
I teach cinematography and this film drove me nuts 5 Nov. 2009
By Jeffrey C. Brown - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
First, the good: The interviews are beautifully shot. There is a huge array of cinematographers that are interviewed.

Unfortunately, that's all this film has going for it. As another reviewer mentioned, there is far, far, FAR too much material here, and the editing style is infuriating. We never stay longer than about 10 seconds with each person, and each person is never identified except in an excruciating 3-minute montage of all of them saying their names. It probably sounded like a good idea on paper, but it sets the tone for how witless this film is constructed. The editing strings similar words and phrases together without any context, jumping from person to person with such a dizzying pace that all meaning is lost. For example, through a string of 5- 6 second soundbites (yes, 5-6 seconds, no longer) we're informed that 15 or 20 of these unidentified individuals got into cinematography for reasons that share some similar words or phrases, but that's it, and we're off to the next batch of 15 or 20 unidentified individuals who like cinematography for other reasons that share some similar words or phrases. Literally, the film feels as if it were edited by a computer that searched through the transcripts of these interviews and pieced together sentences that shared ideas or words. There is no cohesion, no narrative arc, no story. And who are these people? What have they shot? I'm not given any reason to care that this person's grandmother told him to be a cinematographer. Only someone with a lot of experience (and perhaps someone who has seen Visions of Light) would know that this is Gordon Willis, and that he shot The Godfather, or that this is William Fraker, and shot Rosemary's baby. We are never told any of this.

In another example, obviously all 110 of the cinematographers were asked "what's the most important thing about cinematography?" Nearly all 110 of them answered "it's the story." Following this computer-like construction, the editor decided the best way to handle this was to string 30 or 40 of these answers in a row. "It's the script." "The script." "Gotta start with the script." "I like to start with the scipt." "The scipt is the most important thing." After a few minutes of this I'm ready to throw a brick at the TV.

The conversation rarely strays from the generic, and few have anything but the most boilerplate things to offer, and besides no one is given more than 10 seconds at a time to say anything. I know these people have wonderful stories and interesting histories, but you certainly wouldn't know it from watching this film. All you are given is a non-stop collection of words. Literally, no pauses.

And finally, inexcusably, inexplicably, maddeningly, there are no examples from any film. How this came to pass I am unable to fathom. What is the point? Unnamed individuals talking in rapid fire soundbites about things we can't see.

Sorry for the rant. I just popped this again to try to watch it and had to express my frustration.

This film mystifies me. Go see Visions of Light --- a wonderful, amazing, moving film with some of these same folks. There's really no way to compare the two. I've tried to show this film to my cinematography classes, but you can see the eyes glazing over from the first few minutes. And these are cinematography students.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Interesting but flawed... 9 Oct. 2008
By Ron Houghton - Published on
Format: DVD
Avid cinephiles will usually eat up just about anything about the craft of filmmaking, so I would consider this a nice appetizer more than a full meal. The Doc has way too many interviews for such a short running time. It spends a good 20 mins on introductions before it really gets going to the good stuff, with some guys getting less than a minute or two.

And with no archival footage (just static interviews) it's hard to get a real vision of their work. For example Roger Deakins talks about tweaking the opening shot for Barton Fink but we never see it. There is some interesting jargon about different lights and lens's but not enough real insight into particular films. I was never bored but I wish they had gone deeper into the actual specifics more.

If you havn't seen the terrific Visons of Light, I reccomend you start with that, it has more history and is loaded with clips, and then if you're still hungry for more check this out. The special features contains two 1hr chats with Vittorio Storaro and Gordon Willis that go into much more detail than the actual doc.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
What they said 29 Mar. 2010
By Sidereal - Published on
Format: DVD
I want to echo what the other negative reviewers have said. This documentary is well shot and very poorly constructed. The very end of the film makes an apology for not being able to include everyone. The filmmakers should instead apologize for including too many. Everyone who participates is washed out by haphazard editing that renders all of these great artists anonymous. For all the talk about story, we never get to know any of them because there are too many. We spend the first 20 minutes on mind-numbing introductions and then veer into sound bytes, with no real time given to enable us to reflect upon or appreciate their work. They could have killed this time by providing lower-thirds with names and films.

The whole thing feels like a pat on the back for the industry and the profession, without giving much insight into the stories behind the stories. We get no footage of the films they (attempt to) discuss, and worst of all, the result is mind-numbingly boring. We go from face to face, sound byte to sound byte, on and on and on, with no change in pattern, for 90 minutes.

As others have said, try to find the spectacular Visions of Light documentary. Many of the folks here are included there, with better stories, more insight, more historical backdrop, and a display of real love and appreciation for the craft and the art. It also gives clips of the movies so we can see what they're talking about and give our eyes a chance to feast on their work.

I give it two stars because, well, the shots are in focus and well-lit, and these are the big names in the industry. Shame it came out so poorly.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Baffling, Unmitigated Disaster 28 Jun. 2012
By MediaMalable - Published on
Format: DVD
Let me begin by saying I've met a number of the cinematographers interviewed in this film, and they are all fascinating artists with no end of amazing stories to tell. Those stories will not be found in this film.

First of all, the cinematographers are given no identification in the film, other than one horribly edited sequence where they quickly say their names. So when they talk, you will not be able to connect their words to their work. Are you listening to the DP of The Godfather, or of Bad Boys II? No dice, unless you can somehow identify every significant cinematographer by sight, you won't know.

Not that it matters, because the editing is so choppy and odd that no one is ever allowed to get in depth about anything. This film has absolutely no valuable information of either practical or historical interest. Looking for on-set advice? Pretty much none. Fascinating anecdotes of a life shooting films? Nope.

So what is in this film? The sad answer is not much. Its as if the creators of the film went out, shot a lot of beautifully lit interviews with DPs, and then proceeded to cut only the most boring and generic bits together. All these varied artists, with varied skill sets, are turned into an amorphous mass of vague soundbites and abbreviated platitudes. And all of this without A SINGLE EXAMPLE OF THE WORK ITSELF. That's right, there are NO film clips in the documentary. None. We literally have no visual references for a documentary about an entirely visual art form.

One feels that there must be a wealth of wonderful information lying in an archive somewhere, all the interesting bits that the editors of this film seemed to so exactingly excise from the finished product. Surely the full interviews with Gordon Willis, or Roger Deakins, must be tremendously interesting and educative. Let's hope they are well preserved somewhere, as they'll surely be of historical importance someday. This documentary certainly will not be.

Watch the vastly superior VISIONS OF LIGHT if you're interested in the craft and history of cinematography.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Not a good choice 24 Jan. 2011
By John C. Schmidt - Published on
Format: DVD
These negative reviews are accurate. A wasted opportunity. I suggest buying the much more powerful and visual "VISIONS OF LIGHT" (containing many of these same cinematographers):

Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography
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