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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

From the Mouths of Filmmakers: Bruno Delbonnel

Bruno Delbonnel
By Bruno Delbonnel and Joshua Handler

Recently I've been disturbed by the amount of people who don't seek out independent films, non-English-language films, and classics.  So, I asked some of the most exciting and original voices in modern cinema to submit responses to a few questions about why/if they think indies/non-English-language films/classics are important to view, and how those films have been influential on their careers.

The responses below are from four-time Oscar-nominee, Bruno Delbonnel, cinematographer of INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, AMÉLIE, A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT, HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, and ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, among many other films.  His next film is Tim Burton's BIG EYES.

Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view independent and world cinema and why (if you don't feel it is important, please tell me why)?
No doubt about it. It's important to see movies. That's it. From all around the world, independent or not's about seeing different cultures. I don't know what independent really means. There is only cinema.  Movies that move you or not. There are movies that "move" you everywhere in the world whether it's independent or not, American or Russian or Indian.....So many different cultures, so many different ways to tell the same story. You won't tell it the same way if you are American or Palestinian. Not the same history, not the same politics, not the same problems. Not the same money. Not the same goal. Movies can be political. Movies can make you think or can be only entertainment. Movies can be poetry, music.....It's about opening your mind to others. Welcoming them with their own and different culture. Quite the opposite of this terrible globalization.
Do you believe that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view films of the past and why (if you don't feel that it is important, please tell why)? 
No doubt about it. It seems obvious. Cinema has a history. That's how you learn things.You learn from the classics. For years, I've been watching films I love without the sound track. Sometimes one specific scene, trying to understand why this scene moved me so much. Trying to understand how the director and cinematographer did it. And I learned many things. It doesn't mean I really used what I learned, but there is a little seed in my brain that grew up over the years, that tells me that you don't necessarily need dialogue (many silent movies are saying more things that any written lines). You don't have to see everything (the very beginning of 8 1/2, by Fellini, where everything in silhouette tells you a lot about the state of mind of the leading character...), you don't have to move the camera on every single shot (the camera needs a reason to move....)...... And then you realize that some scenes don't work without sound.... (like this amazing scene in RYAN'S DAUGHTER by David Lean, where the main character remembers the war in a terrible way because a man is "stamping" his foot on the floor.....I don't know how to describe it properly in poor english writing).So many things I learned from the past.
How did viewing indies, films from around the world, and classics help/influence you when shooting INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, BIG EYES, HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, AMÉLIE, and the other films you've shot? 
I guess the answer is in the previous question as well.All the great movies I've seen over the years are there somewhere in my mind. I think the main lesson/help/influence, is in the blocking of a scene. Should this scene be only on close up like in FACES by John Casavettes? Or in silhouette like in 8 1/2 ?.......Is the question relevant? Are these options relevant? Would it make sense? There is almost no camera movement in INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS. It's quite simple storytelling. The camera is only watching the characters. It could almost be a silent movie.
I don't know the answer to your question. But I know that many of the great movies I've seen are there to answer my questions.
What's one French film (doc or narrative), one non-French film (doc or narrative), and one classic (define that one any way you wish) that you would recommend that film-lovers and/or young/aspiring filmmakers see?
French: ARMY OF SHADOWS by Melville.Non-French: MY NAME IS IVAN by Andrei Tarkovsky,  BASIC TRAINING by Fred WisemanClassic:  HARAKIRI by Kobayashi.
From the Mouths of Filmmakers continues on Friday. 

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