In the eventful 40s and 50s, the popular American bi-weekly magazine “Look” enjoyed the service of a visionary, eccentric and genius still photographer, who added flavors to the magazine’s pages with his never-seen-before lens combinations and depth of fields. The out-of-the-box fellow later came into known and the legend of scientific realism and path-breaking cinematography in world cinema. Stanley Kubrick, who made, according to Steven Spielberg, “the big bang” of American cinema, 2001: A Space Odyssey, sharpened his photographic senses and knowledge of lenses as a still photographer.
In this video which is a quick tour through Kubrick’s expertise with lenses and improvisations, Joe Dunton, who owned one of the major camera rental facilities in the UK and was a close collaborator of Kubrick, takes us into the details his adventures through the world of lens-crafting, which enabled him to create dreamlike visuals in masterpieces like Barry Lyndon and The Shining. The incredible insight and passion developed by Kubrick for his lenses during his stint as a still photographer ripe into full blossom when he started dealing with moving images.
Being an avid collector of various lenses, Kubrick always bought the lenses of various focal lengths, which would almost consist of more than ten numbers in some projects and, carefully handpicked the right lens that can give the best shot. He used to painstakingly research to convert some popular lenses according to his specifications. No wonder NASA was astonished when the master demanded the leading lens manufacturer Zeiss, to make him their custom made NASA lens for 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The video reveals how it is very important for a filmmaker to fall in love with the lenses and to be familiar with what each lens could do, its strengths and weaknesses. Many of the “firsts” in the cinematography history, like the unnerving steady cam sequences in the shining or the engrossing depth of fields in Barry Lyndon, are claimed by Kubrick for this intense love affair with his lenses.
Dunton reflects how passionately Kubrick worked with lens craftsmen and eagerly waited to see the resulting visuals on screen. Like his path-breaking movies, the master filmmaker had set certain standards in sharpening his knowledge and innovative quest as a filmmaker technician.
Written By- Ragesh Dipu
Photo Credit- STF/AFP/Getty Images