The Camera That Changed The World

Posted on July 27th, by Michael Rosenblum in Technology. No Comments


one of the all time great movies

This is the trailer from A Man and a Woman by Claude Lelouche

Produced in France (needless to say) in 1966, it was written, directed and filmed by Lelouche using a hand-held camera.

This was a vast departure from conventional Hollywood filmmaking – DPs, cameramen, blah blah….

Not only less expensive, but as the film was entirely Lelouche’s vision, he was able to carry it out exactly as he saw it.


Earlier this week, Channel 4 (in the UK) ran a series entitled “The Camera That Changed The World”*

It was all about the impact that hand-held film cameras (see above) had on documentary film-making in the US.

Pioneers such as Ricky Leacock and Bob Drew pioneered the realm of verite documentaries – simply taking your camera into real life evens and capturing them as they happened.

This, from the review by The Telegraph:

Sensibly perhaps, the film focused less on world-shattering concepts and more on the engineers and boffins who actually built the first portable camera in 1960. Techie stuff can make for dull programming, but The Camera That Changed the World was a neat elucidation, showing us exactly which innovations made cameras smaller, lighter and crucially, quieter. As a result, the film showed, television documentaries went from being stilted, static affairs to dynamic eyewitness accounts. And we got to see some wonderful examples of what that meant, with footage from groundbreaking 1960s masterpieces like Drew and Leacock’s Primary, following a young Kennedy and, from the other side of the Atlantic, the French verité classic Chronique d’un été.

Today, with the advent of ‘reality TV’, despite most of it being highly directed (more on this another day), we take this as second nature.

But it was the technology that freed both Drew&Leacock and Lelouche to follow their visions of filmmaking.

Needless to say, the technology of cheap, easy to use and very powerful video cameras now opens another entirely new era of potential both for fiction and for documentary (and news and everything else).

The people who are picking up video cameras today are no less pioneers than were Leacock or Lelouche.

The final testament, of course, will be what we decide to do with them.


*Thanks to Mark Egan for this heads-up

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Every day Michael Rosenblum blogs about the latest developments in the world of video and the media as well as future trends in technology and equipment.

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