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HomeAwardsAwards Portfolio: Bruno Delbonnel

Awards Portfolio: Bruno Delbonnel

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French director of photography Bruno Delbonnel’s highly regarded work on Amelie, helmed by cult director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, put him on the map as one of the world’s top cinematographers.Delbonnel’s encore teaming with Jeunet on the recently released A Very Long Engagement, once again starring Audrey Tautou, is likely to add to that reputation and could well land him in the race for the 2005 Oscar for best cinematography. He was nominated in 2002 for the film Amelie.An epic story of love and quixotic hope set against the grim trench warfare of World War I, Engagement also features golden-hued shots of the French countryside and stunning recreations of Paris in the 1920s, with an assist from CGI.The film reprises Delbonnel’s distinctive use of light and coloration, with hues subtly enhanced in postproduction color timing, utilizing the digital intermediate process. The DP has become a wholehearted advocate of DI.“It is a new tool for cinematographers, and it allows us to go much further than we did before in terms of aesthetics, changing even the way of telling stories through light,” he says. “In the future I think we can destructure images through the use of digital timing. My hope is to one day work like Marc Chagall painted.”Following a 25-week shoot, Delbonnel spent six weeks with colorist Yvan Lucas in postproduction, with Jeunet also offering regular input. “DI has elevated the importance of the colorist,” observes Delbonnel. “He’s now become a partner of the cinematographer.”Delbonnel, 49, initially wanted to become a painter but soon switched to photography and film. After a stab at directing in 1980, where he first met Jeunet, who ironically worked as his assistant, he briefly lived in New York and was steered into cinematography by the late Nestor Alemandros. He spent 14 years as an assistant before becoming a full-fledged DP.Cinematographers that have influenced him include Greg Toland, Conrad Hall, ASC, Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC and Gordon Willis, ASC. – Jack Egan

Written by Jack Egan

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