The French director of photography Pierre Lhomme passed away on 4 July, aged 89 years.
In 1955 Lhomme made his first short Paris, mon copain before becoming a renowned cinematographer. In 1963 he shoots and co-directs Le joli mai with Chris Marker. He excells not only with Jean Eustache for La maman et la putain (1973) and Jean-Pierre Melville’s L’armée des ombres (1969) but also in his work for Alain Cavalier, James Ivory, Chris Marker, Marguerite Duras, Robert Bresson, Joris Ivens, Costa-Gavras, Eric Rohmer and many others.
« Dans notre métier, la clé, selon moi et beaucoup de confrères, c’est l’amour du cinéma qui permet de s’adapter à un maître d’oeuvre différent, car chaque réalisateur génère son propre univers. J’ai toujours pensé que nous étions la cheville ouvrière du film. Pas le chef-opérateur tout seul, mais l’équipe entière de prise de vue. Il faut donc qu’elle soit compétente et harmonieuse, surtout pas servile. »
Cineaste: What was it like working with Bresson on Four Nights of a Dreamer? Was he very demanding?
Lhomme: It’s not that he was demanding – he rejected a lot. He’s like a vacuum cleaner. [laughs] When he started the scene – he didn’t know what he wanted – although he knew perfectly well what he didn’t want. When we were working, it was a process of subtraction and evacuation. I was amazed by his approach to filmmaking and I learned a lot. With the good ones you learn a lot, with the bad ones nothing. But I learned a lot from Bresson. He used only one lens and was so afraid of anything that interfered with his vision. With Bresson, I had a real lesson in cinematography.
Pierre Lhomme in an interview with Cinéaste2