View Full Version : CINEMATOGRAPHY: What movies should be required viewing?

12 December 2004, 05:22 PM
As you guys know I love to post topics like these to stimulate cool discussions.

One thing that I have noted recetnly is that the art of cinematography has gone backwards.

Movies that for me stand out are:(in no particular order)

Francis Ford Coppola: Godfather II, Apocalipse Now
David Lean: Dr Zhivago,Lawrence of Arabia ,The Bridge on the River Kwai
Roman Polanski: Chinatown
Alfred Hitchcock: vertigo Pshyco
Ridley Scott : Blade Runner, Alien
Stanley Kubrick :The Shinning, 2001 A Space Odyddey
Steven Spielberg: Empire of the Sun, Raiders of the Lost Ark
John Ford:The Searchers
Sergio Leone: Once upon a time in the West

Anyway what is your list?


12 December 2004, 07:10 PM
that is pretty good list

But would add some older european films - not so much for the cinematography alone but the choise of subject mater. - Almodovar, Bergman, Fellini

On a newer side: City of God and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind rock big time. I am waiting to see complex believable characters in mainstream hollywood films.


12 December 2004, 07:13 PM
- Wes Anderson: Bottle Rocket, Rushmoore, The Royal Tenenbaums
- Stanley Kubrick: Paths of glory, Dr Strangelove, The Shining.
- Alfred Hitchcock: The 39 Steps, Psycho, Torn Curtain, Strangers on a Train
- Steven Spielberg: Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler's List
- Peter Jackson: Lord of the Rings trilogy (extended editions)
- Roman Polanski: Chinatown, The Ninth Gate, The Pianist
- Christopher Nolan: Insomnia
- David Fincher: Alien 3, Se7en, Panic Room
- David Lean: Hobsons choice, Great Expectations, The Bridge on the River Kwai
- David Lynch: Dune, The Elephant Man
- James Cameron: The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss
- Michael Mann: Heat, Manhunter
- Bill Forsyth: Comfort and Joy, Local Hero, Gregory's Girl
- Alan Parker: Mississippi Burning, The Commitments
- Charlie Chaplin: The Gold Rush, Modern Times
- Terry Zwigoff: Ghost World, Crumb, Bad Santa
- Sofia Coppola: Lost In Translation
- Edward Buzzell, At the Circus, Go West
- Hayao Miyazaki: Laputa
- Wolfgang Petersen: Das Boot, Enemy mine
- Peter Wier: Dead Poets Society, Master and Commander

12 December 2004, 08:03 PM
Any film by Akira Kurosawa.

12 December 2004, 08:10 PM
- Michael Moore: Roger and Me, Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11

I'm not quite sure how this fits in as examples of good cinematography. Especially since a lot of what he does is sourced on video.

12 December 2004, 08:25 PM
I find it interesting that no DoP's (Director's of Photography) have been mentioned.

12 December 2004, 08:36 PM
hehe...i was just about to edit and put Akira Kurosawa on the end there, he is without a doubt in the top 5 directors of all time list.

sorry about the michael moore bad, I mis read the top there.

...I think Luc Besson does all his own cinematography and I know michael bay was a photographer before hand.....i think.

The Rock has quite incredable cinematograph in it.

and certainly Kubrick i think was in charge of the camra.

12 December 2004, 08:54 PM
Director of Photography

Darius Khondji: The Ninth Gate, Seven, The City of Lost Children, Delicatessen

Dante Spinotti: Heat, The Last of the Mohicans

12 December 2004, 09:04 PM
Schindlers List is an achievement in cinematography.
I also recommend:

-Requiem for a dream

-Road to perdition

-Minority report


12 December 2004, 09:12 PM
There is a great little Korean film called "My Sassy Girl" some of the best cinematography I've seen in a live action Korean film and one of my favorite all time movies.

12 December 2004, 10:13 PM
Luc Besson, and Michael Bay to a lesser extent both operate cameras on their films, but will still collaborate with DoP's on the cinenmatography.

It's and interesting and ongoing debate concerning the authorship of the images that end up onscreen. Some directors are heavily visual in their storytelling and most likely have more input concerning composition and lighting, whereas directors who are more focused on the actors are possibly more able to allow their DoP's more freedom and trust in their interpretation of the script. An interesting example would be Dreamworks teaming up unproven director (in films anyway) Sam Mendes with one of the greatest cinematographers of all time, the late great Conrad Hall for his film 'American Beauty'.

12 December 2004, 12:17 AM
all good suggestions so far.

Passage of India by David Lean is great and not mentioned?

Those aarly Hichcok films were wacky. I would watch is later stuff.
M for Murder and Rear Window, North by Northwest. I feel they have more inovation in them
than a movie like Strangers on a Train wich isn't much more than a subversive propaganda film of the time. He took quite a bit of liberty with the source material to make his point.

That said, He is great and is greater still when he works with great actors. Another reason I like Hichcock is that he drew a lot. Storyboards, Setdesign, costumes you name it!
Unlike a director like G.Lucas.

There really are so many great lookung films out there it is hard to mention them all.
My list is conciderably shorter when it comes to movies that have the whole package.
Like acting, story And visuals.

12 December 2004, 12:41 AM
Just off the top of my head...

The Good, the bad, and the Ugly - I love this movie...mmmmm...spaghetti
Full Metal Jacket - the best Camera work from the Kubrick films IMO
Elephant - very human
Dancer in the Dark - great tranistions between real world and dreams
Snatch - I really like this film as a whole but it wouldn't be as good without some of the cool camera work and editing.

12 December 2004, 01:05 AM
I almost forgot!!!

"The Mystery of Rampo"

Just out on DVD.

One of my favorite movies of all time.
And I don't say that often.

12 December 2004, 01:07 AM
some more good cinematography examples:


12 December 2004, 08:24 AM
Some non english/Hollywood films to increase your source of inspiration:

In the Mood for Love ( (Hong Kong), this film has by far the most sophisticated cinematography I'v eever seen, both the photography and camerawork is truly polished to perfection with an incredible eye for detail, especially if it comes to capturing subtle expressions.

Oldboy ( (Korea), winner of this years Cannes festival. A film that is not shy to use interesting cinematographic effects outside of the frame of the movie. If you like Fincher's work, you'll love this (both the cinematography as well as the film itself).

Spring Summer, Fall Winter and Spring ( (Korea), art cinema that heavily relies on its amazing cinematography to tell its story about the meaning of life according to buddism.

Amelie ( (France), though I can't imagine somebody not having seen this film yet.

City of God ( (Brazil), a film about the criminal life of a suburb of Rio de Janeiro.

And I'm going to emphasis Schindler's List and Blade Runner and add Fight Club.

12 December 2004, 09:21 AM
Andrei Terkovsky - Иваново детство
or Stalker.

ps - I think Amelia is a good example of good direction making a bad script into a good film. (How's that for provocation?) The story is really blah, but you just don't care while watching.

12 December 2004, 12:51 PM
Citizen Kane
Touch of Evil

One film I liked for it's cinematography; DoP was Gordon Willis (of 'Godfather' fame):
The Parallax View


the peak
12 December 2004, 04:33 PM
Citizen Kane (Orson Welles) is without a doubt the movie to see if you want to learn more about cinematography. It has all the classic material which makes a movie great and is used as an example in almost every book on the subject. Every student of cinematography should at least have this movie in his collection. Movies by Wells are masterpieces when it comes to creating a certain atmosphere. His use of shadow and light gives a scene the touch it needs to become brilliant.

Other great movies are :

The third man (Orson Welles)
Scarface (Brian De Palma) Great camerawork
The Big Lebowski (Joel & Ethan Coen)

But, since this is a forum about CG, let's not forget such beauties as : Shrek, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo (great for learning how to use colors & how to create a specific mood in a CG film) & The Incredibles (If you want to learn about action in a CG movie, this is the one)

I've probably forgotten a few dozen more, but I'll try to complete this short list in a little while.

12 December 2004, 08:54 AM
wow i was wondering how far i would have to read before citizen kane was mentioned

12 December 2004, 10:54 AM
Terry Gilliam my friends!
From his animations in the Python days to fear and loathing, he's had some pretty wild imagery.

Mullholand drive by Lynch is another gem.

Kurosawa's Dreams...
Thank god nobody has named that phoney Scorc-cheesy sor far.

12 December 2004, 05:30 PM
One thing that I have noted recetnly is that the art of cinematography has gone backwards.

What do you mean by that?

Anyway, MY LIST :twisted: :

Aladdin :) + Most (not all!!) of Disney's movies.
The Shawshank Redemption
Man On The Moon
Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrles
Back To The Future
Big Fish
Pulp Fiction
LOTR extended
Fight Club

I cant remember right now, but theres a lot more movies I would put in that list...

12 December 2004, 05:50 AM
Aw so many. i'll just rattle some off

seven Samurai, the patriot, City of God, Psycho, Throne of Blood, heat, raging Bull, Terminator 2, City of Lost children (one of the best), Leon the professional, Black Hawk Down, american beauty (even though i hate the movie), Alien, 2001, and upcoming i think sin city will be amazing. Pulp Fiction, Saving Private Ryan, LA confidential, the Maltese Falcon, Dark Crystal... etc. i'll add as i think of them

even though I hate him as a storyteller (other than bad boys 2 which was a great 80's action movie basically) Michael Baye has some outstanding cinematography in his movies too.

12 December 2004, 09:23 PM
The films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger are worth seeking out to watch, particulary Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948), both of which were filmed by cinematographer Jack Cardiff. Both films are remembered for their impressive art direction as well as their sumptious colour palettes.

Also worth watching is Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la bęte (Beauty and the Beast, 1946). I must admit I don't remember this so much for it's cinematography as for the simple, imaginative ways it creates it's various effects; when Belle's father approaches a doorway to the Beast's house - his shadow suddenly grows impossibly large. We see smoke emanating from the Beast's hands after he has killed an animal. As Belle paces nervously back and forth in the Beast's house, a stern-looking face carved in the mantelpiece watches her. Some moments don't hold up quite so well though, including a scene where Belle glides across a hallway (obviously being pulled on a trolley of some sort!)

We're so used to fast cuts and rapid motion in today's films (which definitely have their place), that I think it's worth watching films like Belle just as a reminder that simple, but imaginative ideas can create memorable images too.

12 December 2004, 09:26 PM
One movie that I was amazed on how good it was was in terms of cinematography is

James Whale's The Bride of Frakenstein.

Look it up.


12 December 2004, 08:04 AM
Three Kings
Courage Under Fire

12 December 2004, 08:50 AM
Hey guys you Forget Avalon by Mamoru Oshii, one of my favorite ...

12 December 2004, 07:58 PM
This is a tough question, as cinematography & direction go hand in hand. Plus, preferences can be a pretty personal thing. Anyway, here's my list. No particular order. All there for a particular reason.

Resevoir Dogs, Unbreakable, The Craft, Terminator 2, Interview with the Vampire, The Matrix, It's a Wonderful Life (straight forward, but tried & true), The NeverEnding Story, The Princess Bride, Gone with the Wind, Forrest Gump, LOTR:ROTK, The Last Emperor, Little Big Man, Back to the Future, THX 1138

12 December 2004, 09:41 PM
I just picked up a copy of Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil"...very noir, GREAT lighting and camera work. The first shot of the movie (I think) has to be the longest uninterrupted crane shot I've ever seen in a film, but it's incredibly dynamic. Pure artistic genius on Welles' part. And as a bonus, Charlton Heston plays a Mexican attorney but he still sounds just like he does in Planet of the Apes and The Ten Commandments, no Mexican accent or anything. Heh. (ahem)

And speaking of noir, one of the most well lit movies I've seen is Woody Allen's "Shadows and Fog" (1992). Absolutely gorgeous in black and white. I loves me some volumetric light.

Also recommended:

- Fellini's "8 1/2"

- Bergman's "The Seventh Seal" (boring movie but nice visuals - after watching this one, "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey" makes a little more sense ;-) Seriously, though - I learned a lot about interesting ways to stage actors from this one. Very influential director and I ought to check out more of his work...

- As others have mentioned, Kubrick's "2001: a space odyssey" is genius, but I'd like to add that you need to keep your finger close to the DVD remote's fast forward button. Some of those spaceships-crossing-the-screen shots felt like they lasted about 10 minutes. Beautiful visuals, but pacing = s l o w . . .


12 December 2004, 09:47 PM
Ah... The Seventh Seal. I totally forgot about that one. Such a treat. I'd probably have to add Cinema Paradiso to that list. Such great film work.

12 December 2004, 10:34 PM
- As others have mentioned, Kubrick's "2001: a space odyssey" is genius, but I'd like to add that you need to keep your finger close to the DVD remote's fast forward button. Some of those spaceships-crossing-the-screen shots felt like they lasted about 10 minutes. Beautiful visuals, but pacing = s l o w . . . But this is part of what makes it so great. To me at least. This very accurate depiction of space travel. The lack of gravity, the absence of sound in space, but also, that Kubrick allows things to take the time that they would actually need (e.g. when Dave "races" after Franks body or when he unscrews the door to HAL's memory room).
Great cinematography, great direction and great editing!

Anyway, I would really like if people gave reasons for why they thought their films of choice MUST be seen for their cinematography. Because I didn't do it either in my previous post, I'll do it now ;):

Citizen Kane - innovative use of depth-of-field; full of great ideas for camera moves and transitions
Touch of Evil - use of light and shadow; the first, never-ending crane/dolly shot; composition and framing of the actors in some scenes are outstanding
The Parallax View - great colours, nice compositions of people surrounded by modern architecture


12 December 2004, 11:30 PM
We're all talking about movies that we should see as examples of what to do. What about movies that illustrate what NOT to do? Anyone?

12 December 2004, 01:05 AM
anything directed by kevin smith has bad cinematography cause he doesn't care about visuals. or he sucks at it i can't really tell which.

forgot to add Apocalypse now as one of my favorite movies visually, the first Mad Max movie i would put up there also.

12 December 2004, 03:09 AM
anything directed by kevin smith has bad cinematography cause he doesn't care about visuals. or he sucks at it i can't really tell which. Could be the suck factor. Where Kevin Smith is concerned, his primary focus as a writer/director seems to be more on the characterization. I don't watch a movie like Dogma or Clerks for the cinematography or direction. That's not really the appeal of his flicks. That also used to be the case with Tarantino. However, I think that, as a director, he's grown quite a bit over the years.

I think that "Unbreakable" is one of those movies that can fit in the categories of "what TO do" and "what NOT to do." Taken as a whole, "Unbreakable" really takes some visual chances, most of which succeed. However, his fondness of handheld work also turns into a clear weakness when you watch it cropped to fullscreen. In fullscreen, the flaws of direction & cinematography becomes readily apparent. Some scenes no longer make much sense, as the new framing destroys the overall scene composition. I was watching the fullscreen on TV a couple of months back. Totally different movie. That's what you call poor planning.

Watch Unbreakable in widescreen for examples of what to do. Watch it in fullscreen for examples of what not to do. This movie is a prime example of the whole full VS wide debate. Lots of lessons in this flick. It shows you how lax cinematography has become, especially when you compare it to a pre-dvd era movie.

Anyway, that's my arm chair analysis. :)

12 December 2004, 04:47 AM
Been overdone...but here it is again....

Citizen Kane -Orson Welles

Watch it ten times at least. It's a filmmaker's handbook...

12 December 2004, 02:03 PM
I don't know how people can put The Rock, Terminator 2 (even though it's one of my favorite movies), and such on their lists. Yes, oppinions vary, but merely using cool effects or having cool lighting isn't great cinematography.

My picks of films that should be required viewing for their great cinematography (in no particular order):
Lawrence of Arabia
Citizen Kane
Schindler's List
Apocalypse Now
City of Lost Children

Edit: and I don't see how Unbreakable not being quite the same in fullscreen makes for lax cinematography. If anything, I admire the director and DP's decision to not compromise their vision to appease the kind of people who buy fullscreen DVDs.

12 December 2004, 12:56 PM
I am always amazed by cinematography of

Conrad L. Hall (american beauty, in cold blood, road to perdition, etc.), Dante Spinotti (L' Uomo delle stelle...), Guillermo Navaro,somehow, I dunno, I adore his style of lighting (hellboy, devils backbone,from dusk till dawn...), Vittorio Storaro (everything), and Jean-Pierre Jeunett's movies...

12 December 2004, 09:06 PM
I just finished watching both volumes of Kill Bill. I think both are cinematically beautiful. I don't remember it too well, but a friend of mine tells me that Woody Allen's Manhattan is another great film in terms of cinematography.

I know there are other greats that I loved, but I can't think of them off-hand.

12 December 2004, 10:43 PM
Of course besides watching all the prerequisites mentioned already, it helps to focus in on the ones that are not only great cinematographically, but most like your own film as well. When I made my short "Eternal Gaze," which is black&white, slowly paced in act 1, frenetic in act 2, and ethereal in act 3, these are the movies I watched:

Citizen Kane - always mentioned.. but for good reasons. it's b&w deep-focus photography is unprecendented. Also, it was one of the first films to play with non-linear storytelling, by showing the ending first, and then flashing back. I watched this once a month throughout the 2+ years of production to make sure I was on track.
BladeRunner - my favorite film of all time in many ways. Certainly, its cinematography, although it's a pre-CG sci-fi film from the early 80's, still beats most today. It has the most amazingly gritty atmosphere that CG has been trying to duplicate since, but w/o success. I also watched it religiously once a week during my 2+ yr production, especially to study it for its "slow burn," - its amazing pacing and attention to details.
Vertigo/Psycho - Hitchcock was great for plotting and suspense building. The 2nd Act of my film owes much to his films.
Saving Private Ryan & Shindler's List - Love him or hate him, Spielberg has amazing instincts for visual storytelling w/ Janusz Kiminski & Michael Kahn executing his vision. My acts 2 & 3 owe much to him.
Amelie - nothing much to do w/ my own film except drop-dead gorgeous cinematography and wonderfully designed and fluid tracking shots.

12 December 2004, 04:22 AM
for me:

Spy Game
Requiem for a dream
Pie (i dont know how to make the symbol)
Band of Brothers

So many movies are getting color graded these days but that doesn't make up for the lack of good composition alot of movies suffer from.

12 December 2004, 05:56 AM

Its a masterpiece. My favorite film.

Terminator2 is great too.
Their many other films but rare are the movies i can watch over and over like Shaolin soccer!

12 December 2004, 12:38 PM
BladeRunner - my favorite film of all time in many ways. Certainly, its cinematography, although it's a pre-CG sci-fi film from the early 80's, still beats most today. It has the most amazingly gritty atmosphere that CG has been trying to duplicate since, but w/o success. I also watched it religiously once a week during my 2+ yr production, especially to study it for its "slow burn," - its amazing pacing and attention to details.Yeah I also put on Blade Runner very often, sometimes even when I'm drawing. Apart from the amazing cinematography and effects, what I can really appreciate is that they are only used to enhance the narration and mood, rather than gimmicky action on screen which all of today's science fiction films feature.

And as you said, the pacing is amazing and probably the very thing that makes this film so unique. It's far too slow to please the mainstream (then as much as now) but this is very unique in science fiction, or Hollywood films in general. The narrative in many ways resembles art cinema much more than the standard Hollywood narration, which is something I like as well.

12 December 2004, 05:31 PM
I think you can't get any good quality anymore from all the new stuff coming up now -especially from Hollywood. I could just mention only very few films from the late 21st century that can compete with all the "classics" like the Alien saga, Bladerunner, Terminator 1/2 (NOT Terminator 3!!) etc.
As everyone knows cinema has come to focus more on the entertainment factor, heavily packed with CGI-madness and special fx which is a pity.
So, the 80s and 90s offer the best films ever made and I don't think this will change soon...
Regarding the cinematographical side, I think there IS indeed some creativy in most of the new films. Minority Report was quite convincing I must say. I loved the Sci-fi world created in it with respect to nearly every detail. The means of certain color palettes in today's films is what I haven't been recognizing in films for too long- quite a new field in creating good cinematography...

12 December 2004, 08:25 AM
Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

Dr. Bang
12 December 2004, 11:35 PM
Malena is one of the most beautiful movie i have ever seen. It's like moving photography, wait, it is.

12 December 2004, 11:45 PM

I'd say the following...

1) Hitchcock's The Birds.
2) Saturn3.
3) Shattered Glass.
4) Jaws.
5) Robocop.
6) The Duelists.

12 December 2004, 03:45 AM
Isao Takahata work on the 1988 anime movie "Grave of the Fireflies" from Studio Ghibli. This is probably one the best anime of all time. Most moving and emotional animated film I have ever seen. Great animation from Ghibli and directing & screenplay from Isao Takahata.

12 December 2004, 06:06 AM
Some may not agree with my list...But hey...thats my style.

1.Almost every film by Vittorio Storaro.
2.Almost every film by Eisenstien.
3.Many films by Alan Daviau.

1.Fracis Ford Coppola
2.Edward Zwick.
3.Tony scott.
4.Ridley scott.
5.David Fincher.
6.Martin Scorcees.
7.Akira Kurosawa.
8.Alfred Hitchcock.

1.Girl with a pearl earing.
2.Mona lisa Smile.
3.Frida ( Cinematography in this film is one of the best i have seen)
4.Sixth sense.
6.Lord of the rings trilogy.
7.Once upon a time in mexico.
8.Eyes wide shut. ( Keep your eyes open in this )
9.Kill Bill ( Both volumes )

Hmmm....List goes on.

12 December 2004, 02:33 PM
I think that anyone must see the movie not for "i-like-it" but "i-like-the-way-that-they-made-it" (at least in this forum)

Citizen Kain?... OUTDATED, ok, it was cool in 19xx but now it outdated (and a lot boring). Many people say "Citizen Kain is the best movie ever", i wonder how many people has seen this movie. ;-)

Kill Bill ?. Yep!, the movie is funny but it's not a masterpiece. Tough the director play with the cameras, shadows and music, so it worth to see (everyone can steal many concepts of it).

Ghibli movies :YOU MUST SEE, they play with slow and fast pace and it show a lot of sentimental scenes. Also the panoramics views are worth!. Specially Lupin III.

LOTR :YOU MUST SEE, a truly masterpiece, worth in director, cameras, photos..

M. Night Shyamalan :Worth!, specially in the takes "out of focus" (in Signs you can see the aliens out of focus).

Hitchcock : Worth!

schlinder list :Made a B&W movie then put a un-original topics (black people, jews, poor childers, pro-ecology, puppy or kitty) and you will win the oscar easily!. Anyways you gain nothing with this movie, worth more Escape from Soribor. IMHO to obtain easily sentimentalism stink!.

Blair Witch Project :How a cheapest movie, with poorly actors, bad camera management, and bad sound with convert in a lucrative and recognized movie? Who known but for this reasons Blair Witch Project worth to see cause is the dreams of everyone!.

12 December 2004, 04:29 PM
Hello all, here's a collection of films that have made a big impression on me over the years.
If you haven't seen them yet then I really envy you.


Blood Simple


Midnight Cowboy

Betty Blue

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring

Japanese Story

12 December 2004, 09:51 PM
Citizen Kain?... OUTDATED, ok, it was cool in 19xx but now it outdated (and a lot boring). Many people say "Citizen Kain is the best movie ever", i wonder how many people has seen this movie. ;-)

It may be boring to some people, but you have to see it at least once or twice. It's like having a general idea of classical literature before reading modern stuff. Everybody makes refernces to it is it's important to be familiar with.

12 December 2004, 10:10 PM
I watched a bit of Citizen Kane a few days ago...roughly around the part where that chaps says something to his pals about "Look at - they have a chronicle!"...and a little latter they have these dancing girls take to the floor at a industry party or something... :shrug:

12 December 2004, 11:37 PM
Most everything by the cinematographers, Conrad Hall and Janus Kaminski.

12 December 2004, 03:18 PM
A lot has been said already, here are my favorit movies of all times:

- Citizen Kane
- Blue Velvet
- Apocalypse Now
- L.A Confidential
- Heat
- Scarface
- Barry Lyndon
- Full Metal Jacket
- Clockwork Orange
- Reservoir Dogs
- Pulp Fiction
- Taxi Driver
- Raging Bull
- Donnie Brasco
- The Untouchables
- The Godfather 1 & 2
- 2046
- On The Waterfront
- The Graduate
- Straw Dogs
- Almost Famous
- Goodfellas
- Cube

- 7 Samourai
- Ran
- Ghost in the shell (anime)

Some Italian cinema:
- Once Upon a Time in the west
- The Good, the bad and the ugly
- La Dolce Vita

French New Wave:
- 400 Blows
- La Bande appart (dunno in english)

there you got it, I probably forgot half of them :thumbsup: but it should give you an idea!

12 December 2004, 10:44 PM
i'll just add this...

12 December 2004, 11:49 AM
Great movies quoted since the beginning !

The most important for me are :

David Lynch : Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive
Coppola : Godfather, Apocalypse Now
Hitchcock : Psycho, North by Northwest, Vertigo, Rear Window (excellent movie with a lot of script constrains...)
Truffaut (for being the french cinema god) : Les 400 Coups, Farenheit 451, Jules et Jim...
Wim Wenders (for awesome pictures and landscapes...) : Paris Texas, Land Of Plenty
Stanley Kubrick : A Clockwork Orange, Shining, 2001, Eyes Wide Shut
Wong Kar Wai : In the Mood For Love, 2046
Tarantino : Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown
Oliver Stone : Midnight Express, Natural Born Killer
Pedro Almodovar (for humanity !) : Talk to Her, All about my mother, High Heels
Olivier Assailas : Demonlover, Clean

Others : 21 grams, Donnie Darko, Citizen Kane, Requiem For A Dream, American Beauty, Taxi Driver ........................

and so much others

12 December 2004, 08:59 PM
city of lost children (french), bicycle thief (italy),citizen kane (US), rebel without a cause, the gold rush, modern times, tokyo story (japan)

WKW the mood for love, days of being wild, ashes of time, happy together, 2046
Yimou Zhang ......Hero, house of flying daggers
Hayao Miyazaki ......tombstone of fireflies, spirited away
Akira Kurosawa samurai, rashomon
wachowski bros ......matrix, animatrix

01 January 2005, 08:40 AM
I would like to add the following movies which I personally like very much what comes to visual side of them.

Jane Campion: Piano, In the Cut
Luc Besson: Leon
Marc Caro,Jean-Pierre Jeunet: Delicatessen
Joe Carnahan: Narc
Hayao Miyazaki: Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi)
Ridley Scott: Gladiator
Alex Proyas: The Crow

...and pretty much all the films mentioned in this thread already :)


01 January 2005, 10:20 PM
Based just on cinematography alone,

"Blade Runner".... Just about any film by Ridley Scott.

Any film shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, "Deliverance", "Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind", etc.

Any film shot by Jordan Cronenweth, "Peggy Sue Got Married", "Blade Runner", etc.

Any film shot by Haskell Wexler, "Matewan", "Blaze", etc.

Any film shot by Sven Nykvist, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", etc.

Plus many others, Janusz Kaminski, Chris Menges, Roger Deakins.....

01 January 2005, 07:30 PM
A film from 2003 that struck me for it's beautiful, efficient cinematography is "Osama" from 2003. The cinematographer is Ebrahim Ghafori (had to look it up). It's a very haunting movie that is ultimately emotionally devastating -- not a chick flick. It's indeed one of the most overlooked films of 2003/2004.

It's on Netflix, so grab it if you haven't seen it.

Oh, and John Alcott, cinematographer on "Barry Lyndon," which I believe to be Kubrik's masterpiece.
They used natural light for most, if not all, of the shots, which adds an amazingly realistic feel to the entire piece.


01 January 2005, 02:27 AM
Since the title of this thread is "CINEMATOGRAPHY" and only about 10% of the responses are actually about cinematography, I highly recommend that everyone goes out and rents (or buys) "Visions of Light (" It will give you a fantastic overview of the art and history of cinematography.


01 January 2005, 11:02 AM
oohh just came across this thread, i was shown the ropes of editing, direction, sound by my brother and heres the list i was taugh on.

1900 - 1950

Battleship patomkin
The third man
Citzen kane
The devil thumbs a ride
12 angry men
Mr smith goes to washington
Its a wonderful life
The day the earth stood still
Brave new world
Cape fear
Night of the hunter
To kill a mockingbird
Dr stranglove
The ladykillers
7 samurai

1950 - 1980
Angel heart
Magnifisent 7
Get carter
The Thomas Crown affair
Point Blank
The French connection
Easy Rider
The Italian Job
Dirty Harry
Rosemarys Baby
Assault on Presinct 13
North by North west
The Good, the bad and the ugly
For a few dollars more
a fistful of dollars
Magnum force
The outlaw Josey wales
Pale Rider
The jerk
Tax driver
Raging Bull
One flew over the cuckoos nest
The thing
Star wars Trilogy
Enter the dragon
The conversation
A clockwork orange
The devils
The wickerman
Midnight Cowboy
The graduate
Annie hall
Everything you wanted to know about sex, but were afraid to ask
Straw dogs
Godfather 1,2,3
Thx 1138
Tetsuo:body hammer

80s onwards
The ring
All the presidents men
The untouchables
Edward scissor hands
Blue velvet
La Hein
Man bites dog
The abyss
In the line of fire
Blade runner
Enemy of the state
Saving Pr Ryan
Jr park
The crow
The matrix
Midnight express
Natural born killers
Twin peaks
Resivor Dogs
Violient Cop
Hard Boiled
Pulp Fiction
Woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown
Elephant man
Lost highway
Mean streets

This is a good grounding to get started, theres hundreds more but this is what i was taught up on.


01 January 2005, 09:03 PM
Good lists so far, but I'm surprised that no one's mentioned Andrei Tarkovsky yet (I may have missed one - my bad if I did). Any of his films are worth seeing for the cinematography, but I'd esp. recommend Stalker. There isn't one shot in it that isn't perfectly composed.

Oh, and if you haven't seen it, do watch Touch of Evil. It really is excellent.

01 January 2005, 04:29 PM
A good list above here! Lot's of "reminders"

I failed to notice a film with excellent expressionistic photography and also shot very lowbudget:

-The Isle

The rest you people will probably stumble onto, I've almost only seen big names here, no bad I guess.

01 January 2005, 11:50 PM
-The IsleThe extremely morbid Korean film 'The Isle' (Seom) ( That was the first movie I almost couldn't bare watching all the way through at two points.

That director made the film 'Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring (', which from a cinematographic point of view completely blows The Isle away. I mentioned that one of the first or second page of this thread. I could find one other 'The Isle' on imdb, but I didn't think that'd be the one.

If you like Korean Cinema, check out Oldboy. :)

01 January 2005, 09:34 AM
Forgot about a few:

Ben Hur (my mum worked on this)
Assault on Presinct 13 (the original)


01 January 2005, 06:26 AM
err ppl u forget 12 monkeys excelent cinematography

01 January 2005, 12:06 AM
I don't know if Shinya Tsukamoto has been mentioned but, he is a director-writer-cinematographer-editor-art director-production designer.....
He is credited for Tetsuo the IronMan and Tokyo Fist and a bunch of other obscure titles.

Another one of my favorites is Takeshi Miike who directed Ichi and Ichi the Killer. My favorite movie of his has to be Gozu.

Both of these directors has a "in your face" style and I recommend them to anyone who wants to see something out of the box.

Oh yeah, David Lynch is another great/unique director as well.


And see OldBoy and Spring-Summer-Fall-and Winter as mentioned before.

02 February 2005, 11:53 PM
i dont know any of you guys has seen "BARAKA" but everytime i see it i cant leave my seat for anything.. exceptionally phograhy , lighting , composition..
i know some peaople might think of it as a documentary but i think it definatly has something to say..
i just thought that it worths to mention..

03 March 2005, 05:05 AM
i think you forgot to write this movie, "Sound of Music" that's so universal movie i ever seen

03 March 2005, 06:37 AM
just a couple of my favorites, and why :)

The Usual Suspects -

Although this isn't technically a sublime display of cine, the one thing that is easy to take away from the film is that you always remember the faces. The story is completely character driven, and the faces were always lit well and framed excellently. The fact that the direction and cast members were stupendously badass doesnt hurt either :)

Amelie -

A lot of the colors i found to be pushed too far (i think it's that the DP was just given too much latitude), but otherwise the framing, movements, and color choices were just spot on.

Fight Club -

the color palette was just amazing. it seems like there was some lighting goofiness in spots, but the saturation was pretty sweet, and the angle choices are all convincing. the cg elements are nicely placed in the film, and not used as centerpiece items, just curiosity scenes that dont break the pacing.

Eyes wide shut -

the lighting is really fun and overly dramatic, but completely suitable at the same time. its like a lesson in how to pull off an over-the-top production.

03 March 2005, 04:39 AM
DP Dan Lausten has a unique style which is superbly exposed in Pacte Des Loups (Brotherhood of the wolf), Directed by Cristophe Gans.

This is one of the few films I've seen in which constant camera movement is achieved without bothering the eye! Definetly the work of a Maestro.


03 March 2005, 09:30 PM
i dont know any of you guys has seen "BARAKA" but everytime i see it i cant leave my seat for anything.. exceptionally phograhy , lighting , composition..
i know some peaople might think of it as a documentary but i think it definatly has something to say..
i just thought that it worths to mention..

i've seen it and agree - it is great
what about Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, and Naqoykatsi?

03 March 2005, 02:26 PM
The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles) - the waltzing camera shots.

A lot of good movies already mentioned

04 April 2005, 03:31 PM
For me, these are the big ones:

- Anything by M. Night Shyamalan, especially the 6th Sense and Signs.
- The Ring - Everything about this film is jarring, not just the story, but the camera angles, editing, music, color, etc.
- Minority Report - Beautiful color work here
- Phantom of the Opera - Notice especially the lighting, especially lighting themes for different characters.
- Alien, Aliens and Blade Runner - Uncharacteristically gritty, especially for sci-fi. I hated Blade Runner, but the cinematography is top notch.
- Black Hawk Down - One of the best war movies I've seen that really captures the emotion and tension of war in the cinematography.
- The Last Samurai - Has a very epic and beautiful feel throughout.
- LOTR - I hope everyone's familiar with this already.
- Man on Fire - Fantastic editing
- Panic Room - Great camera work and good editing.
- The Passion - Very emotional throughout, very supportive of the story. The raindrop at the end was amazing.
- Peter Pan - The recent one. One of the most rich films I've seen, I love the warm colors throughout and the great contrast built when it uses cooler ones.
- Spy Game - Another great example of good editing.
- BMW Films - Some very good shorts in a lot of different styles, really good videos to study. I did a storyboard project for school to one of these and I learned quite a bit from them.

I know there’s more, but these are the ones I could think of off the top of my head.

Jean Genie
04 April 2005, 08:30 PM
One that I haven't seen mentionned:Ratcatcher by Lynn Ramsay. Stunning work.

04 April 2005, 06:16 AM
Yeah.. i like Hero starring Jet li.

04 April 2005, 04:54 PM
I think this thread has gotten off topic a little. The idea isn't "what movies have awesome cinematography," because if you try to immitate that without having a fundamental knowledge of what cinematography really is and what it's purpose is, you'll end up making something that looks cool (maybe) but distracts from the film and doesn't support it. I see that ALL THE TIME in peoples' short CG films; the animation, character, acting, story, dialog, etc. is either awful because the only real thought and effort was in the design of the shots and the rendering, or that they don't match the story at all.

For example, would you use the cinematic style of Hero for a movie about an alcaholic having a bitter breakup with his wife and ending up homeless in the gutter? I'm sure there's some genius out there who could get that to work, but 999 out of 1000 people couldn't. I'm tired of watching films where it's like the director or the DP saying "Hey, look at me! Look at all this cool stuff I can do!" instead of just supporting the story. You can still do great stuff while supporting the story, after all.

That's why I still stand by my recommendation of the documentary Visions of Light (

Now, having said all that, I do still think that watching beautiful films like Hero is good, because it broadens your scope of what's possible and it's very inspirational. But I think that having a firm grasp on the basics is crucial. After all, I bet Christopher Doyle (Hero's DP) could lecture you for hours and hours about all aspects of cinematography-- theory and history. He didn't just start out trying to do "cool" stuff. (By the way, I'm not trying to pick on Hero, it's just that its one that many people here are familiar with and has some really flamboyant photography.)


04 April 2005, 03:38 PM
Here's a link to several cinematography links:


so happy I could die
04 April 2005, 06:39 PM
Considering the cinematography Requiem for a dream and Elephant have some great visual images ...
(my favourite films are Igby goes down and The United States of Leland.. fell in love with the story, Igby and Leland their perspective, their point of view, their thinking...amazing)

04 April 2005, 07:12 PM
I liked Superman.


04 April 2005, 02:48 AM
I think this thread has gotten off topic a little... For example, would you use the cinematic style of Hero for a movie about an alcaholic having a bitter breakup with his wife and ending up homeless in the gutter? I'm sure there's some genius out there who could get that to work, but 999 out of 1000 people couldn't. I'm tired of watching films where it's like the director or the DP saying "Hey, look at me! Look at all this cool stuff I can do!" instead of just supporting the story. Fred

Spot on. IMO (and I'm talking out my ass here) a great DOP will create a look and texture that perfectly complements the story and mood of the film. That's not to say that the visuals can't stand out on their own right, but its important to think about how they tie in to the story and characters. My two current favorites happen to be very flashy DOPs - Robert Richardson (Snow Falling on Cedars, Bringing out the Dead, Kill Bill) and Matthew Libatique (Tigerland, Requiem, Pi) - but never do their visuals seem out of sync with the film. Unlike, say, the cinematoraphy in The Rock. Don't get me wrong, it was a great film in a very dead-above-the-eyeballs right of centre sort of way. And the shots were magnificent, but it was just an extended music video clip slapped together with as many cool lighting and smoke tricks as can be cut into 120 minutes (and thats a lot). (But hey, why not. It made a mint and at the end of the day that's what its all about.)

Personally I always love to watch films made by former DOPs. I saw a few of Nicholas Roeg's films recently and thoroughly enjoyed his one-man attempt to rewrite the rules of film grammer. Don't Look Back and the first third of Performance stand out. For the sake of argument however, some of the most ugly films I've seen have been the most emotionally devestating or effective to watch (Dancer in the Dark, Breaking the Waves, Blair Witch Project). Fantastic cinematography or just good stories?

04 April 2005, 05:28 AM
I personally think Blair Witch was just a fluke- the story didn't extend past its marketing gimmick.


04 April 2005, 09:18 PM
I'm really surprised nobody's mentioned Roger Deakins (although a couple of his movies have been mentioned)--imo the best DP alive right now.

Koyaanisqatsi - unbelievable...truly a MUST SEE!
Powaqqatsi - not nearly as good as Koyaanisqatsi, but still has some very good stuff.
and Naqoykatsi - really didn't like it at all...would've liked to have seen at least a little bit of original footage...a pretty shoddy use of CG if you ask me.

The Exorcist - I really liked the daylight scenes in this, but it all conveyed the mood really well.

-my 2 cents

04 April 2005, 05:46 AM
not sure if this is what yall are talking about, but definitely watch the film:

Memento Directed by Christopher Nolan

Amazing way to tell a story!

04 April 2005, 11:24 PM
Guy Ritchie: The Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smokin' Barrels
David Fincher: Fight Club, Panic Room

04 April 2005, 04:50 PM
Inspiring and wonderful demonstrations of the art where the artist paints with light:

A Zed and Two Noughts- Peter Greenaway
Apocalypse Now - Coppola
Girl With The Pearl Earring - Peter Webber
Jayne Eyre - Orson Welles

Give them a go, and enjoy!

04 April 2005, 03:04 PM
Those movies make me want to film a movie:

- T2 - James Cameron
- Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run) - Tom Tywkler
- Doberman - I don't remember the director but i remember Monica Bellucci :D
- Figth Club - David Fincher
- Matrix (all series) - Wachovsky Brothers
- Armour of God - Jackie Chan
- Armour of God II - (Operation Condor) - Jackie Chan
- Police Story I and II- Jackie Chan
- Hana-bi - "beat" Takeshi
- Kikujiro - "beat" Takeshi
- Battle Royal - Kinji Fukasaku
- Akira - Katsushiro Otomo
- Ghost in the Shell - Mamoru Oshi
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Michel Goundry
- Being John Malckovich - Spike Jonze
- Crouchin Tiger Hidden Dargon - Ang Lee
- Hero - Zang Yimou
- Iron Giant - Brad Bird
- Pulp Fiction - Quentin Tarantino
- Natural Born Killers - Oliver Stone
- James and the Giant Peach - Tim Burton

I don't see Citizen Kane, but everybody when talk about excellent movies, name it, shall i see it soon.:)

04 April 2005, 08:39 PM
I love how on a thread about cinematography, all I see are directors listed. Sad.


so happy I could die
04 April 2005, 10:48 AM
All I can name are the movies where I liked the actual cinematography.
I don't know many cinematographers ( except for Matthew Libatique, Wally Pfisterand and Harris Savides ) , that's why I am reading this thread. (along with many others I asume)
that explains all the director names I guess
*apoligizes for changing subject before*

05 May 2005, 01:59 PM
Bronenosets Potyomkin (Battleship Potemkin)
Citizen Kane
Reservoir Dogs
Kill BIll 1&2
Elephant Man
High Noon
Mullholand Drive
Perfect Blue
La cite des enfants perdue (eek i forgot french spelling :) )
7 Samurai
Les triplettes de Belville
Jungle Book
Sex Lies and Videotapes
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

to start with...

05 May 2005, 02:03 AM
Just rewatched Snow Falling on Cedars last weekend and I'm going to go out on a limb and say that its the best shot film ever. :p

05 May 2005, 08:03 PM
I love how on a thread about cinematography, all I see are directors listed. Sad.


So.. it's your contentions that Directors of Photography should be household names that people can rattle off the top of their heads? That's asinine

05 May 2005, 10:00 PM
i think saving private ryan has a good cinematography, it really gives you that old and cold feeling, i like its grainy desaturated look,

i think its the only movie where i was totally convinced by the blood and gore, i mean there are movies with far more violence and blood and gore, but i think none look as reallistic as this one,

also amely has good cinematography, and black hawk down,

and i think 2001: a space odyssey was a big milestone for filmaking, my favorite kubrick film

05 May 2005, 11:39 PM
I think that some of the best films i've seen for cinematography in general are:

-LOTR trilogy
-Passion Of The Christ
-The Usual Suspects
-Citizen Kane

These are just the best ones I can think of off the bat.

05 May 2005, 02:27 PM
I'm not a Film Pro, but I always thought Gattaca was beautifully shot.

05 May 2005, 04:33 AM

Short films from :


The Birth of a Nation (griffith)
Broken Blossoms. (griffith)

Hollywood BEGINING:

The Cheat
The general
The King of Kings
The Jazz Singer (first film with diegetic sound).

Das cabinet des Dr.Caligari
Der Blaue engel.

Bronenosez Potemkin
Chelovek A kinoapparatorn

The passion of Jeanne D´Arc

La grande illusion

Gone with the Wind
The stagecoach
Citizen KJane
Sunset Boulevard


Ladri di bicilette
Rocco e i suoi fratelli

Les 400 coups
Les Mistons
A bout de souffle
Vivre sa vie

General.. all films from important directors... of the MRP and MRI.

_ Lumiere, Melies, Griffith, Einsenstein, Vertov, Pudovkin , Dreyer, Welles, Ford, Fritz Lang, Murnau, Bergman , Renoir, Victor Fleming, Bacon , Whale, Rossellini, Visconti, Godard , trufaut, Resnair , and Mr Hitch...ok

05 May 2005, 05:07 AM
From a pure visual storytelling & cinematography point of view, I'm going to rattle off a few films that I think are worthy of study and I refer back to when I'm in need of inspiration. I've got a ton of favorite films and directors, but the ones below are the ones I think are worthy of study, and on occasion I pair films to be studied together for one reason or another.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari -- German expressionist cinema at its finest. An incredibly disturbing film -- not just because of the sets and costumes. The framing and composition of every scene are akin to a painting. If you get the chance to see this with live accompaniment, perhaps a symphony or an experimental jazz group (my first viewing), buy a ticket to every showing you can catch. The accompaniment on the DVD and VHS versions I own are complete crap.

Metropolis -- Another silent German film. Incredibly far ahead of its time aesthetically and technically. I personally prefer one version I have on VHS over the Criterion "definitive" version in terms of entertainment quality. I'm inclined to think that some of the cuts and missing bits over the years had a positive impact on the story flow and they tone down the preachiness of the theme to my taste. As a historical record of a technical masterpiece to study, you can't go wrong with the Criterion version, though. I'm tempted to pair the anime of the same name from a few years ago along with this as well as Dark City, because they're different stories, different media with a common aesthetic, themes and origins.

Citizen Kane -- not sure I can muse on this one as eloquently as many have before me. It's a textbook. You can see an *awful* lot of these chops in the Aviator if you pay attention. I prefer to think of it as an homage, and not a hack job though :)

Seven Samurai -- I love this film unreservedly, for many different reasons. The camerawork and composition in this film are absolutely masterful -- in addition to being one of the best all around examples of storytelling ever created. Another pairing to go with it: A Bug's Life. Same core story, some similar camera techniques and framing.

The Bride With White Hair -- Hong Kong cinema that was seriously influenced by Tim Burton's work at the time in terms of bringing a surreal, comic book quality to a love story. I'd pair this with Edward Scissorhands for an evening of doomed fairytale romances.

The Incredibles -- I can't imagine another film to be as kinetic or full of life as this. Framing, silhouette, motion. Remarkable achievement in conveying action, motion, and just pure freaking style!

Vertigo -- They don't call odd tilts and rack zooms "Hitchcock" at random. I guess that in a way Hitchcock opened the door for intrusive camera work -- but whether it's used tastefully or not, techniques in this film really opened the door for the camera being used as a character in and of itself.

Timecode -- Not such a great movie, but a fascinating experiment. Seeing the cameramen trade off targets in real-time to direct your attention to the 'proper' quadrant was cool, and the coverage was amazing.

The original, unaltered Star Wars trilogy (even the Ewoks) -- soapbox time. forgive me, and feel free to disagree. Limitations can be a blessing in that they force you to find unique solutions to the problem at hand and concentrate on what is important. The advancements in motion control and go-motion during this period are absolutely stunning, but with a limited canvas and imperfect tools, the story stayed at the center of a technical masterpiece. I could give a crap about matte lines, dull lightsabers and floating blobs next to the emperor's head. It didn't matter that Lucas seems to be incapable of directing <b>traffic</b> if there are <b>human</b> drivers. I was engrossed in the story -- the effects took second place to it. Without going into a much more lengthy diatribe, I'll just leave this one as a cautionary tale in the use of restraint and concentrating on the story in light of new technology and intrusive camera work. Just because you've got the world's biggest box of crayons doesn't mean you've got to use them all. Shakespeare put it well: "...full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing."

Saving Private Ryan -- I could go on all night about how much intrusive camerawork bothers me if it doesn't serve the story (even the wicked cool bird/crane shots over Minas Tirith in Two Towers) -- but there are also instances where it's the right place and time to draw the audience out of, or deeper into the story by use of the camera. The beach landing sequence in this film is a perfect example -- lens distortion, over (and under) exposed film, shooting at a different frame rate, giving the film a bleach bath. The subject matter called for a complete lack of restraint, and the camerawork reflected this impeccably. I should also mention that if you haven't heard the sound mix in full DTS on a good system, you should. One of the finest examples of the use of sound in a film, ever.

I've got a ton more, but this is getting pretty lengthy...

07 July 2005, 10:54 PM
These are (now fave) films I've seen that I believe also feature great cinematography.

Citizen Kane
Raiders lost Ark
Millers Crossing
Lawrence of Arabia
Schindlers List
Fistful Dollars, Few Dollars more, Good,Bad ugly
Rear Window
39 steps

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