November 2, 2014

Why Emmanuel Lubezki is One of the Best DPs of All Time

Emmanuel Lubezki
Few cinematographers are as universally lauded and professionally respected as Emmanuel Lubezki. After watching this video tribute from Vimeo user Borealisk, you'll see why.

https://vimeo.com/99452979

Questionable music choices aside, this video brilliantly showcases a few of Chivo's trademark stylistic tendencies. First and foremost is his absolutely stunning command of natural light. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the past three Terrence Malick films (there are more in the works). When you add the improvisatory and oftentimes playful camera work of these films to the complex, beautiful natural lighting, you get some of the most visually arresting images in contemporary film.

Then there's his work with visionary director Alfonso Cuaron. These films showcase Chivo's ability to craft complex, yet immersive long takes that guide viewers through unbeknownst cinematic worlds. In 2006, it was the intricate handheld and crazy car rigs that led viewers through the war-torn landscapes of Children of Men. In 2013, Lubezki, alongside an incredible visual effects team, pioneered new types of hybrid cinematography to craft the most realistic portrait of outer space ever seen in Gravity.

Chivo has already accomplished some amazing cinematic feats in his 30 year career. However, the fact that he's only 50 years old hopefully means that we'll be witness to a hell of a lot more in years to come.     

Your Comment

13 Comments

Promise I'm not bashing this amazing visual artist (he's clearly talented), but a simple mashup of his shots does not explain why he's one of the best. A video essay, like from Every Frame a Painting, or Brows Held High, or any kind of analysis would be welcome, especially since so much of what we see on screen is at the discretion of the director.

November 2, 2014 at 6:19PM

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Agreed. It's "just" a showreel of his work. That's good, but I'm not even sure the edit has any kind of meaning in itself. It's it is lacking some of his work, it's mainly his Hollywood work, not his Mexican films like Y Tu Mama Tambien. And I've missed Sleepy Hollow apparently, which is the first film I noticed his work, amazing use of two strip process to make the blood look strangely red.

November 2, 2014 at 8:18PM

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Nicolas Plaire
Motion Graphics / Director
89

I Appreciate the use of natural light... he doesn't waste nature's goodness at all...

November 2, 2014 at 6:58PM, Edited November 2, 6:58PM

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Wentworth Kelly
Director/DP/Colorist/Drone Op
2139

Definitely a bit of a strange video, but ultimately, the message that Chivo is one of the great working cinematographers is one I can definitely get behind. His use of natural lighting is really understated here and in other assessments of his work:

Most of the attention in assessing Birdman is placed on the long takes, but for me, the biggest takeaway was the lighting, which looked absolutely stellar and which was mostly created using practicals built into the sets (because of the nature of the 360 degree long take tracking shots, there simply wasn't anywhere to PUT cinema lighting in the first place.

His command of digital cinematography and using the technological advantages of these cameras to create lighting in this way is honestly the biggest inspiration to me.

November 2, 2014 at 7:08PM

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Oren Soffer
Director of Photography
2093

It's the worst edited and combination of very bad choice of shots . Chivo is one of the greatest cinematographer in the world . This choice of shots doesn't even show case even one of his best shots . Very sad to see this kind of edits to showcase the worlds great master's work properly .

November 2, 2014 at 8:30PM, Edited November 2, 8:30PM

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It's the worst edited and combination of very bad choice of shots . Chivo is one of the greatest cinematographer in the world . This choice of shots doesn't even show case even one of his best shots . Very sad to see this kind of edits to showcase the worlds great master's work properly .

November 2, 2014 at 8:30PM, Edited November 2, 8:30PM

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Imagine what Chivo can achieve with the Red. 6K goodness, oh god, I can't even imagine...............

November 2, 2014 at 9:19PM

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Really? :/

November 3, 2014 at 2:23AM

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Oren Soffer
Director of Photography
2093

^ That comment made me embarrassed to own a red.

Also the music sucked in this. And I think its very hard to judge a DP. It's a collaborative art between the director and dp.

November 3, 2014 at 12:04PM

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Scott Talbot
Director
154

Honestly most of the shots in the "reel" weren't that impressive. Other than maybe the Gravity shots which in my opinion should be accredited to the VFX team not the cinematographer.

November 3, 2014 at 8:11AM, Edited November 3, 8:11AM

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Zachary Will
Cinematographer
758

Even CGI shots need to be lit and framed, that's what Lubezki supervised on Gravity. Just because the majority of Gravity is CGI and not live action footage dosn't mean there is no cinematography in it.

November 3, 2014 at 8:48AM

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Thomas Bazin
Assistant Camera
164

A lot of gravity was actually shot with rear projection panels as both backgrounds and lighting, similar to Kubrick on Lyndon.

February 19, 2016 at 2:38AM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
967

All of his work with Malick deserves to be studied. One of the greats, as far as I'm concerned, when it comes to working with natural light.

November 3, 2014 at 8:26AM, Edited November 3, 8:26AM

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Emerson Shaw
Student
685