The Cinematography That Changed Cinema: Exploring Akira Kurosawa, Stanley Kubrick, Peter Greenaway & Other Auteurs

One type of argument made against “auteur theory,” which posits a film’s director as its “author,” holds that certain non-directorial collaborators contribute just as many — or, as Pauline Kael argued about Citizen Kane, more — of a work of cinema’s defining qualities. Surely a video essayist like Lewis Bond, co-creator with Luiza Liz Bond of Youtube channel The Cinema Cartography, subscribes to auteur theory: just look at the increasingly in-depth analyses he’s created on Stanley KubrickAndrei Tarkovsky, and David Lynch — all, of course, directors. But the recent Cinema Cartography essay “The Cinematography That Changed Cinema” sees him turning away from the figure of the director, exploring instead the auteur-like contributions of those masters of the camera.

Any competent cinematographer can make shots pretty; few can make them truly cinematic. Here we use “cinematic” in the sense that Peter Greenaway would, referring to the vast capabilities of the medium to go beyond photographically illustrating essentially verbal stories — capabilities that, alas, have so far gone mostly unused. It should come as no surprise this essay uses Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover to establish its perspective on the power of cinematography.