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Chris Menges

Chris Menges

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Also Known As: Christopher Menges Died:
Born: September 15, 1940 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Herefordshire, England, GB Profession: director, director of photography, camera assistant, assistant editor, camera operator

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

As an Academy Award-winning cinematographer who made the successful segue to directing features, Chris Menges has carved out a successful, but understated career. Menges got his start as an assistant editor and camera operator and even worked as a sound recordist several times, before working his way up to director of photography. Menges had his first real break as a documentary cameraperson and editor in the 1960s and 1970s, traveling wherever there was war and insurrection - Burma, Angola, Vietnam and Tibet - while working with filmmaker Adrian Cowell. Once he made the permanent jump to feature films in the 1980s, Menges developed a style as a cinematographer that never overwhelmed audiences with gaudy colors or outlandish camera moves In fact, Menges understood the oft-accepted theory that color could be less realistic than black and white, because it focused the audience away from emotion to an object. Menges' work was defined by a low-key naturalism, plain composition, and a mix of lenses to tug at the audience at the appropriate moments, which helped him craft memorable images in several award-winning films, including "The Killing Fields" (1984), "Michael Collins" (1996) and "The Reader"...

As an Academy Award-winning cinematographer who made the successful segue to directing features, Chris Menges has carved out a successful, but understated career. Menges got his start as an assistant editor and camera operator and even worked as a sound recordist several times, before working his way up to director of photography. Menges had his first real break as a documentary cameraperson and editor in the 1960s and 1970s, traveling wherever there was war and insurrection - Burma, Angola, Vietnam and Tibet - while working with filmmaker Adrian Cowell. Once he made the permanent jump to feature films in the 1980s, Menges developed a style as a cinematographer that never overwhelmed audiences with gaudy colors or outlandish camera moves In fact, Menges understood the oft-accepted theory that color could be less realistic than black and white, because it focused the audience away from emotion to an object. Menges' work was defined by a low-key naturalism, plain composition, and a mix of lenses to tug at the audience at the appropriate moments, which helped him craft memorable images in several award-winning films, including "The Killing Fields" (1984), "Michael Collins" (1996) and "The Reader" (2008).

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Lost Son, The (2001) Director
2.
  Second Best (1994) Director
3.
  Crisscross (1992) Director
4.
  A World Apart (1988) Director
5.
  East 103rd Street (1983) Director

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1958:
Began career as an assistant to filmmaker, Alan Forbes
:
Worked as a camera operator for documentaries by Adrian Cowell
:
Served as assistant editor and camera assistant for Derek Knight & Partners
1963:
Joined Granada TV's "World in Action" team as a cameraman
1969:
First film as cinematographer, Kenneth Loach's "Kes"
1971:
Worked behind the camera on Stephen Frears' first feature, "Gumshoe"
1976:
Re-teamed with Stephen Frears for "Last Summer"
1977:
Filmed episodes of the British series, "ITV Playhouse"
1980:
Shot second unit work on "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back"
1981:
Made directing debut with the documentary, "East 103rd Street"
1984:
Won first Cinematography Oscar for Roland Joffe's "The Killing Fields"
1985:
Was subject of TV film, "Shooting From the Heart: Chris Menges"
1986:
Earned second Cinematography Oscar for work on Joffe's "The Mission"
1988:
Feature directing debut, "A World Apart"
1992:
First US feature to direct, "Crisscross"
1994:
Directed William Hurt in the drama, "Second Best"
1996:
Returned to work as a director of photography on "Michael Collins"; earned an Academy Award nomination for cinematography
1997:
Was the Cinematographer for Jim Sheridan's "The Boxer"
1999:
Directed Daniel Auteuil in his English-language acting debut, "The Lost Son"
2002:
Served as the cinematographer for Stephen Frears' "Dirty Pretty Things"
2005:
Filmed Tommy Lee Jones' directorial debut, "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada"; earned an Independent Spirit nomination for cinematography
2006:
Was the director of photography for "Notes on a Scandal"
2008:
Co-cinematographer for Stephen Daldry's "The Reader"; earned an Academy Award nomination for cinematography
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

"Color can be very distracting from the narrative. When you put lights by the camera, you tend to create color; when you have the light coming from the back, it can be subdued." --Chris Menges in the Los Angeles Times, March 23, 1997.

"When I made 'A World Apart', I started to understand that a director's life was a lot more troublesome and arduous and almost schizophrenic than one could ever imagine. As a cameraman, one doesn't exactly understand these pressures. They are absolutely enormous." --Menges to The Hollywood Reporter, March 11, 1997.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Judy Freeman Menges. Sound technician.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Herbert Menges. Musical director. Born in 1902; died in 1972; worked with the Old Vic theater.

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