Je viens de recevoir cet ouvrage élégant de mon ami Philippe Rousselot.
I just received this elegant book, written by my cinematographer friend Philippe Rousselot, as part of a series entitled “wisdom of a métier”.
My translation of the excerpt on the back cover gives an indication of Philippe’s finesse:
There is in Louisiana a kind of highway on stilts that crosses lake Ponchartrain, more than 40 kilometers in a straight line above the water. Early in the morning, late in the evening, it’s part of a roundtrip to a shooting location; thirty minutes at hundred kilometers per hour. And the first question of the day comes, looking at the light and the sky reflecting in the water: “How do you shoot this landscape? In which way? Where to put the camera, what movement to give it, where to place the vanishing point, the horizon line, what filter, what lens to use? How to describe what you can’t yet see, like the opposite shore hidden by the curve of the earth, which makes this bridge on the water stretch forever?”
All these questions are foreign to the film, to the working day that’s beginning, but are part of a daily practice, subterranean and semi-conscious, a practice of “giving an account” of fugitive impressions like the fragments of landscapes seen on the way in. An exercise which consists in seeing things inside a rectangle, in evaluating contrasts, color relationship, harmonies and clashes.
Before anything else, the cinematographer is an archivist.