Release Date: January 13th, 2006 (NYC-Quad Cinema) by Palm Pictures.
Directed by Heinz Bütler.
BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about Henri Cartier-Bresson, a legendary photographer who photographed important political moments in world history.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: If you’re unfamiliar with Henri Cartier-Bresson, get ready to be amazed by a very talented individual. A single photograph of his has so much liveliness and even personality despite being in pure black-and-white. As Cartier-Bresson states in the beginning, he puts a very high value on the power of geometry. Unlike William Eggleston in William Eggleston in the Real World , he travels around the world to capture scenes from historical events such as the death of Ghandi, World War II, and the Vietnam War. Writer/director Heinz Bütler shows footage of Cartier-Bresson as he looks through volumes of photographs for a show-and-tell. He doesn’t talk about himself, but you can tell that he has been through a lot just by looking at him. Nonetheless, it would have been interesting to know more about his life rather than just showing his photographs. Some of the photographs are simpler, such as a prostitute looking out of a window. Others include portraits of famous people such as Marilyn Monroe and even Truman Capote when he was a young man. Isabelle Huppert and Arthur Miller both discuss the unique qualities of Cartier-Bresson that makes his photographs so important. Miller sifts through pages and pages of photographs to find just the right one that captures his essence. Instead of subtitles, this film uses a slightly distracting voice-over that translates Cartier-Bresson and Huppert’s French. If there were subtitles, it would be difficult to observe the lively photographs at the same time. While the black-and-white photographs flash by, there’s a very affecting musical score that enlivens the experience even more.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, you won’t come out of this documentary knowing that much information about Henri Cartier-Bresson. However, the little information that you do get from the interviews are insightful. For example, capturing a beautiful photograph is mostly about being at the right place at the right time. A photography doesn’t have to have much knowledge; he or she just has to be perceptive . Cartier-Bresson wisely states that a good photographer must also make sure he has good eyesight, since his eyes are his most powerful tool (besides the camera). He also says that a photograph also shows what’s going on in the mind of the photographer—technically, the eyes are just the output of what the mind “sees”. Overall, his photographs have a rather sad feeling to them, especially those taken in America with all of the industrialization/commercialism going on.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Not enough background information about Henri Cartier-Bresson.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 1
IN A NUTSHELL: Thoughtful, engaging, and lively! Although, not informative enough for those unfamiliar with Henri Cartier-Bresson.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Those familiar with Cartier-Bresson: Movie Theater (1st Run)
Everyone else: VHS/DVD
The "H" Menu