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Top 10 Director-Cinematographer Collaboration in Cinema History

07 May 2012 | People Lists | by David Zou

When I began watching films,I always had the wrong impression that if the image of a film is beautiful,it is the director’s credit.Of course I figured that out lately and found that it is the cinematographer who does the execution of the shooting,as I watched more and more films,I noticed more magic in the film cinematography,the color,the composition,the lighting,the camera movement,how lucky a director is if he finds a perfect partner who can realize his ideas visually.Here are some of the most successful director-cinematographer combination in cinema history.

Michael Powell – Jack Cardiff

red shoes

Short Note:Their collaboration produced some of the best technicolor films.

Collaboration works:

A Matter of Life and Death

Black Narcissus

The Red Shoes

Most celebrated collaboration:The Red Shoes

Most celebrated scene:The grand ballet dance in Red Shoes

Cinematographer’s Other famous work:Pandora and the Flying Dutchman


Bernardo Bertolucci – Vittorio Storaro


Short Note:The colors express emotions,the lights create moods.

Collaboration works:


The Conformist

Last Tango in Paris

The Last Emperor

The Sheltering Sky

Most celebrated collaboration:The Conformist

Most celebrated scene:Every single scene in The Conformist

Cinematographer’s Other famous work: Apocalypse Now


David Lean – Freddie Young


Short Note:The grand landscape in the director’s most notable epic films

Collaboration works:

Lawrence of Arabia

Doctor Zhivago

Ryan’s Daughter

Most celebrated collaboration:Lawrence of Arabia

Most celebrated scene:A tiny dot of Oma Shariff’s figure appears on the horizen of the desert in Lawrence of Arabia

Cinematographer’s Other famous work: Nicholas and Alexandra


Ingmar Bergman – Sven Nykvist


Short Note:Naturalism and simplicity

Collaboration works:

Sawdust and Tinsel

The Virgin Spring

Through a Glass Darkly

The Silence

Winter Light



Hour of the Wolf

The Passion of Anna

The Touch

Cries and Whispers

Scenes from a Marriage

The Magic Flute

The Serpent’s Egg

Autumn Sonata

Fanny and Alexander

Most celebrated collaboration:The Virgin Spring

Most celebrated scene:The girl rides in the country in peace and harmony

Cinematographer’s Other famous work: The Sacrifice


Jean Luc Godard – Raoul Coutard

Pierrot Le Fou

Short Note:One of  the most creative partnerships in cinema history

Collaboration works:


A Woman Is a Woman


Band of Outsiders


Pierrot le Fou

Week End


Prénom Carmen

Most celebrated collaboration:Pierrot le Fou

Most celebrated scene:The color changes as Pierrot enters different rooms

Cinematographer’s Other famous work: Shoot the Piano Player


Max Ophuls – Christian Matras

Le Plaisir

Short Note:Unbelievable camera movements and shots

Collaboration works:

Le Plaisir

The Earrings of Madame De…

Lola Montès

Most celebrated collaboration:Le Plaisir

Most celebrated scene:The camera shot pierces through a window

Cinematographer’s Other famous work: Grand Illusion


Krzysztof Kieślowski – Sławomir Idziak

three colours trilogy blue

Short Note:The brilliant use of the filter

Collaboration works:

A Short Film About Killing

The Double Life of Véronique

Three Colors: Blue

Most celebrated collaboration:Three Colors: Blue

Most celebrated scene:The ghostly blue light suddenly reflects on Julie’s face

Cinematographer’s Other famous work: Gattaca


Steven Spielberg – Janusz Kamiński


Short Note:The granular sensation in the image

Collaboration works:

Schindler’s List

The Lost World: Jurassic Park


Saving Private Ryan


Minority Report

Catch Me If You Can

The Terminal


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

War Horse

Most celebrated collaboration:Saving Private Ryan

Most celebrated scene:The Omaha Landing Operation

Cinematographer’s Other famous work: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly


Kenji Mizoguchi – Kazuo Miyagawa


Short Note:The constant camera movement

Collaboration works:


Gion Bayashi

The Woman in the Rumor

Sansho the Bailiff

The Crucified Lovers

Street of Shame

Most celebrated collaboration:Sansho the Bailiff

Most celebrated scene:The sister walks into the river slowly

Cinematographer’s Other famous work: Rashomon


Wong Karwai – Christopher Doyle

in the mood for love

Short Note:The hand-held camera and some quirky shots

Collaboration works:

Days of Being Wild

Ashes of Time

Chungking Express

Fallen Angels

Happy Together

In the Mood for Love


Most celebrated collaboration:In the Mood for Love

Most celebrated scene:The woman descends the stairs

Cinematographer’s Other famous work: Hero


Which director-cinematographer Collaboration is your favorite? Have I missed any? Let me know in the comments.





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