Darius Khondji found his name on the lists of top cinematographers in the world after his startling work on David Fincher's "Seven" (1995), in which the light almost became more frightening than the dark and contrasts were oblique. His range was well-established with "Stealing Beauty" (1996), for director Bernardo Bertolucci, in which the colors had great passion, yet the photography never subsumed the story of a young woman (Liv Tyler) finding romance. Khondji is becoming a director's favorite because he does not allow the visuals to overwhelm the story, rather they get under the skin and into the hearts and minds of the audience to enhance and trigger the emotions. If cinematography can marry story archetypes, Khondji has found a way. His inky shadows touch on emotions, but don't submerge into an atmospheric bog. This was particularly true on "Evita" (1996), in which the lighting was a baroque opera in and of itself, setting Eva Peron as goddess in one sequence, exposing the darkness of her life in another. Rarely had there been such a varied palette within one movie and Khondji's efforts were rewarded with an Oscar nomination.
Born in Tehran to a Persian father and an French mother, Khondji was raised in Paris and studied film at New York University. Returning to France, he was hired by cinematographer Bruno Nuytten as an assistant cameraman, and by 1987 had worked his way up to chief operator. In 1988, he made his feature debut as director of photography on "Embrasse-moi" for director Michele Rosier. His work first came to international attention with "Delicatessen" (1991), directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, for whom he also shot "The City of Lost Children" (1995). The latter was about a mad scientist trying to steal the dreams of children, and the film had the feel of the neverworld, the state of semi-consciousness between being awake and being asleep, where light pierces to keep the soul within the body and darkness to let it breathe on its own.
Cinematography (Feature Film)
Special Thanks (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
First credit as director of photography, "Embrasse-moi", directed by Michele Rosier
First collaboration with directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, "Delicatessen"
Breakthrough feature, "Seven", directed by David Fincher
Reteamed with Jeunet and Caro on "The City of Lost Children"
Worked with Bernardo Bertolucci on "Stealing Beauty"
Served as director of photography for Alan Parker on "Evita"; earned a Best Cinematography Oscar nomination
Reteamed with Jeunet on "Alien Resurrection"
Shot "The Beach"
Collaborated with Roman Polanski on "The Ninth Gate"