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Janusz Kaminski: Anatomy of the Shot

10.02.2009 - Peter Cowie, Janusz Kaminski

Camera master class. In cooperation with Robert Bosch Stiftung.

One of the most highly regarded cinematographers today, he is adept at using experimental techniques to create highly specialised concepts in his photography. The haunting and brilliant black-and-white images of Schindler’s List are the artwork of Polish-born cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, and garnered him his first Oscar.

Subsequently, he has shot a number of Steven Spielberg films. Five years after Schindler’s List, he picked up his second Oscar for bringing the invasion of Normandy to life in Saving Private Ryan. And not long ago, the two legends worked on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Some of Kaminski’s most evocative and expressionistic work was for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly which won him, amongst others, an award at the 60th annual Cannes Film Festival.

The film revolves around the jet-setting editor of French Elle, who at 43 suffered a massive stroke. The only means of communication left to him is blinking his eyes. Kaminski‘s camera becomes the main character’s blinking eye, presenting audiences with what the man‘s life and impressions were in his paralysed state. "The camera became, as you know, almost an actor. When the actors are performing, they are performing to the camera and I happen to be reflecting what the actor […] is feeling and what he is seeing”, he said about his visual artistry in the film.

Allowing Talents a chance to peer into his camera lens, Kaminski, who was a jury member at the 2006 Berlin International Film Festival, will elaborate on his unconventional visual approach and his use of experimental techniques that are rarely seen in narrative film, citing examples from his vast portfolio of notable films.


Peter Cowie

photo of Peter Cowie
A film historian and former international publishing director of Variety magazine, Peter Cowie has written more than 30 books on major figures and eras of world cinema, including Bergman, Welles, Coppola and Kurosawa. He published and edited the annual International Film Guide for 40 years and has contributed numerous commentaries to Criterion’s DVD collection. He has been a consultant to Berlinale Talents since the programme’s inception in 2003.

Janusz Kaminski

Cinematographer and film director, he won Oscars® for his work on SCHINDLER'S LIST and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. In 2008, he received the Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography for THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY. Amongst others, he shot MUNICH, INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, and FUNNY PEOPLE.