Richard Leacock: bearing witness

Winston, Brian (2011) Richard Leacock: bearing witness. Sight and Sound, 21 (6). pp. 42-43. ISSN 0037-4806

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Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

An essay on the late British director and cinematographer Richard Leacock. Less well known than other Direct Cinema pioneers, his innovations at the start of the 1960s defined the standards of documentary filmmaking for years to come. The claims Leacock and those around him made for the observational purity of Direct Cinema were over-stated, the "real" being far less an unmediated representation than was claimed, but Leacock was the catalyst for the development of the modern documentary, liberating the camera from the tripod and abandoning the tyranny of the perfectly stable, perfectly lit shot - as well as the straitjacket of "voice of God" commentary. Direct Cinema's style of handheld, available-light and long-take synch shooting, with no added effects, swept aside all other documentary modes for a quarter of a century and to this day, such filming is what the public thinks of as documentary, dismissing alternatives as unethical or inauthentic. Rows about "authenticity" in documentaries still seem to turn on offences against Direct Cinema's dogma - the set of rules Leacock was a prime mover in articulating. He didn't solve the ethical conundrums of the form but he compensated for most of the difficulties with something too many of his peers lack - humanity. (Quotes from original text)

Keywords:Cinema, Documentary film, Richard Leacock
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
ID Code:13779
Deposited On:11 Apr 2014 08:47

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