mv:-the-red-shoes

4

Cinematography by Jack Cardiff.

Black Narcissus (1946), The Red Shoes (1948), The African Queen (1951).

What I had picked up from painting was that light was the most important thing. The lighting played an important part. So it’s easy enough to analyse it and work out what looked good or what worked and so on. The only difference was I realised early on that because film was a transparency, and the Hollywood photographers used to use a lot of back-light because it made everything look crisper and glamorous. I realised that back-light and I relied very much on what I had picked up from paintings – a simplicity of lighting. Mind you, I recognised that painting’s a still picture where it’s easy enough to have a lighting effect, and on film where the actor gets up and walks around the room, you had to bear that in mind. But I still felt then, and still do, that you stick to a simple form of lighting.

[…]My original love in painting was Rembrandt, Caravaggio, people like that – but then I fell in love with the Impressionists. The Impressionists exaggerated everything. If someone is sitting on the grass, they would reflect the green light on their face. I sometimes used subtle green filters that probably one in fifty would notice but I got satisfaction out of it. That was the great thing. I used to use on the spot rails – in those days we used lots of arcs and arc-lights – when light was apparently coming from the sky. I used to use a faint blue filter so that it’s cold, and I used to use their methods by exaggerating the colour. I was always fighting with Technicolour because they wanted complete realism, whatever that was.