It’s hard living in Stanley Kubrick’s shadow, but somebody had to do it. As this video essay explains, cinematographer John Alcott owes much of his career to the legendary director, but he was a talent in his own right. Alcott lensed “The Shining,” “A Clockwork Orange,” “Barry Lyndon,” and provided additional photography on “20o1: A Space Odyssey.” His creative uses of natural lighting, in-depth knowledge of film stock, and ability to hold his own against Kubrick while maintaining his vision are all worthy of study.
Kubrick was a perfectionist who often switched cinematographers, making his longstanding relationship with Alcott all the more impressive. “I hope you will not fall into the trap of believing John Alcott was just a puppet,” the video explains. “He held his own. And maybe they should have given him a special Oscar just for being able to deal with Kubrick.”
“He is a perfectionist in every degree,” said Alcott of Kubrick. “He demands that everything is right, everything is exact. When he walks on the set that it’s his freedom to work, that you must be ready. And you’re given every chance to be ready.”
Watch, and learn: