skip navigation
Henri Alekan

Henri Alekan

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

 
 

Henri Alekan - NOT AVAILABLE

Find what your looking for faster use the search field below to shop for titles.

SEARCH TCM.COM/SHOP


OR ... Click here to VOTE > for this person to be released on Home Video



Also Known As: Died: June 15, 2001
Born: February 10, 1909 Cause of Death: leukemia
Birth Place: France Profession: director of photography, director, camera operator, assistant camera, bank clerk, puppeteer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of France's most distinguished, and versatile, cinematographers, Henri Alekan became an assistant camera operator in 1929 and graduated to director of photography as a member of the French Resistance (he had escaped from a German prisoner-of-war camp in 1940). He made his mark in black and white in the 1940s. Rene Clement's "Battle of the Rails" (1945), an expansion of Clement's short documentary, allowed Alekan to beautifully capture the acts of sabotage and fights between the railway workers and Germans. His lyrical precision and sober yet sensitive abilities achieved their apotheosis with Jean Cocteau's "La Belle et le bete/Beauty and the Beast" (1945), in which he created a poetic atmosphere that was a perfect harmony of images, using contrasts to create plays of light and shadows in ways that invoked artists like de Hooch and Vermeer.Alekan shot several American features, notably Billy Wilder's "Roman Holiday" (1953). Switching to color, he earned notice for his work on Abel Gance's "Austerlitz" and Jean Delannoy's "La Princess de Cleves" (both 1960). For his work on Joseph Losey's "The Trout" (1982), Alekan earned a Cesar and contemporary audiences may best know him for his lyrical return...

One of France's most distinguished, and versatile, cinematographers, Henri Alekan became an assistant camera operator in 1929 and graduated to director of photography as a member of the French Resistance (he had escaped from a German prisoner-of-war camp in 1940). He made his mark in black and white in the 1940s. Rene Clement's "Battle of the Rails" (1945), an expansion of Clement's short documentary, allowed Alekan to beautifully capture the acts of sabotage and fights between the railway workers and Germans. His lyrical precision and sober yet sensitive abilities achieved their apotheosis with Jean Cocteau's "La Belle et le bete/Beauty and the Beast" (1945), in which he created a poetic atmosphere that was a perfect harmony of images, using contrasts to create plays of light and shadows in ways that invoked artists like de Hooch and Vermeer.

Alekan shot several American features, notably Billy Wilder's "Roman Holiday" (1953). Switching to color, he earned notice for his work on Abel Gance's "Austerlitz" and Jean Delannoy's "La Princess de Cleves" (both 1960). For his work on Joseph Losey's "The Trout" (1982), Alekan earned a Cesar and contemporary audiences may best know him for his lyrical return to black-and-white in Wim Wenders' "Wings of Desire" (1987). More recently, Alekan collaborated with Amos Gitai on four films: "Esther" (1986), that used the harsh desert sun for dramatic effect through contrasts of light and shadow; and the thematic trilogy, "Berlin/Jerusalem" (1989), which employed German expressionism giving way to an almost travelogue-like view of Israel; "Golem-L'Esprit de l'exil" (1992), employing a multi-exposure technique to create poetic effects; and "Golem-Le Jardin petrifie" (1993), which used landscape photography as symbolism of the central character's search for lost family heirlooms.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Faraway, So Close (1993) Captain
2.
 Other Eye, The (1991)
4.
 Unser Nazi (1984) Director Of Photography
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
With younger brother Pierre, worked as a traveling puppeteer
:
Studied optics and worked as an assistant cameraman
:
Worked as a bank clerk
1929:
Worked as camera operator's assistant at Billancourt Studio
1932:
Helped organize what became the union of assistant cameramen
:
Worked as camera operator on films by directors such as Marcel Carne, Max Ophuls and Abel Gance; first film as camera operator, G.W. Pabst's "Mademoiselle Docteur"
1940:
Imprisoned by the Germans
:
After escaping from a German prison camp, formed the Resistance group July 14 with brother Pierre
1941:
Debuted as director of photography on the short "Le Chariot de Thespis" and Yves Allegret's feature "Tobie est un ange" (no longer extant)
1944:
Was a founding member of IDHEC
1946:
Co-founded Academie du Cinema
1946:
Garnered international attention for work on "La Bataille du rail/Battle of the Railway", helmed by Rene Clement, and "La Belle et le bete/Beauty and the Beast", directed by Jean Cocteau
1948:
Shot the British-produced "Anna Karenina", directed by Julien Duvivier and starring Vivien Leigh
1950:
Reunited with Carne to shoot "La Marie du Port
1952:
Short film co-directing debut (with Henri Bonniere), "La Sarre, pleins feux"
1953:
Hired to replace Franz Planer on "Roman Holiday", directed by William Wyler
1957:
Solo short film directing debut, "L'enfer de Rodin"
1964:
Was director of photography on "Topkapi"
1968:
Served as cinematographer on "Mayerling"
1981:
Shot both "The Territory" for director Raul Ruiz and "The State of Things" for Wim Wenders
1982:
Earned acclaim for "The Trout"
1986:
Began collaboration with director Amos Gitai on "Esther"
1987:
Received the lion's share of critical praise for the glorious black and white cinematography of "Wings of Desire", directed by Wenders
1993:
Acting debut in Wenders' "Faraway, So Close"
1993:
Shot last feature, "Petrified Garden", directed by Gitai
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers: -
Institut d'Optique: -

Notes

He was a Commander in the Legion of Honor of Arts and Letters.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Nadia Starcevic. Script supervisor.

Family close complete family listing

brother:
Pierre Alekan. Puppeteer. Younger; traveled with brother performing until Henri decide to pursue career in film.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Des Lumieres et des ombres"

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute