He invented or popularized
a startling array of the fundamental elements of film: the dissolve, the fade-in and fade-out, slow motion, fast motion, stop motion, double exposures and multiple exposures, miniatures, the in-camera matte, time-lapse photography, color film (albeit hand-painted), artificial film lighting, production sketches and storyboards, and the whole idea of narrative film.
By 1897, in a studio of his own design and construction – the first complete movie studio – his hand forged virtually everything on his screen. Norman McLaren writes, "He was not only his own producer, ideas man, script writer, but he was his own set-builder, scene painter, choreographer, deviser of mechanical contrivances, special effects man, costume designer, model maker, actor, multiple actor, editor and distributor." Also, his own cinematographer, and the inventor of cameras to suit his special conceptions. Not even auteur directors such as Charles Chaplin, Orson Welles, John Cassavetes, and Stanley Kubrick would personally author so many aspects of their films."
Inside: 57 films by Georges Méliès, the Grandfather of Visual Effects
. [more inside]
posted by Paragon
on Feb 3, 2010 -
"Donald looked upon violence as an artist might look on paint..."
Director Donald Cammell committed suicide at home on April 24, 1996. Because of the location of the gunshot wound he inflicted on himself, he stayed alive and conscious for 45 minutes. He asked for a mirror to observe his own death. Foreshadowing this, in Cammell's underrated 1987 film White of the Eye
, serial killer David Keith holds a mirror up to a victim's face as she dies. Filmmaker and author Kenneth Anger said "I predicted Donald Cammell's suicide. He was in love with death."
He wrote seven films and directed six, ranging from the controversial end-of-the-psychedelic-sixties counterculture gangster film Performance
(starring Mick Jagger),to the schlocky Demon Seed
(based on a Dean Koontz novel), in which Julie Christie is raped by a computer, to a documentary about U2
. A man of unusual talent, Cammell was an enigma even to those closest to him. "Cammell knew that nothing was as ever as it looked, that there was no single, simple truth."
His body of work, as diverse as it is sparse, reflects this. Three different biographers are working on Cammell projects, and a fascinating biodocumentary Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance
was released in 1998. His films are well worth seeking out, taken as a whole, they present an interesting psychological picture of their creator, and taken separately, they're thoughtful and interesting examinations of perception, reality, violence, and the nature of power.
posted by biscotti
on Jan 13, 2003 -