Nestor Almendros, John Alcott, and Roger Deakins. Of this great triad of Gods of Cinematography, only Deakins is still with us, working at full throttle.
Spanish by birth (Catalan to be exact), Cuban by adoption, French by most of his career, great artist by trade. He started working with some of the greats of the Nouvelle Vague (Eric Rohmer, François Truffaut) before becoming a big name in the U.S., where he was responsible for the cinematography of films like Days of Heaven (which won him an Oscar in 1979) and The Blue Lagoon, an astonishingly beautiful movie.
Almendros wrote a fantastic book about his career called A Man with a Camera.
He died too soon, from Aid related problems, in 1992. He was just 61. So many wonderful films that he never made…
Human Rights Watch International has named an award after him by establishing the Nestor Almendros Award for Courage in Filmmaking and it is given every year at the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival.
If you understand Spanish, here there’s a great and very rare 60-minute interview with Almendros, who comes across as a very charming, intelligent fellow. Sorry, I couldn’t find it with English subtitles. If you do, please let me know!
Alcott is the master of cinematography behind three visual pearls that he created with Stanley Kubrick: Clockwork Orange (1971), The Shining (1980) and Barry Lyndon (1975, one of the most beautiful films ever). (In that respect, the title of the following video is unfortunate, as “How Kubrick Achieved the Beautiful Cinematography of Barry Lyndon” implies that he did it all by himself, which was not the case.)
Sadly, Alcott died in 1986 taking away his enormous talent with him. He passed away in Cannes, which seems a good place to die for a great filmmaker.
Another monster of filmmaking, this one is still up and running after a super career that spans over 45 years. This guy made some of the best Coen Brother’s films (Fargo, Barton Fink, The Big Lebowski) and has developed a very fruitful relationship with Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road, Skyfall, 1917) and Dennis Villeneuve (Sicario, Blade Runner 2049). His films with dates in their title (Blade Runner 2949 and 1917) won him two Oscars.