There are few cinematographers with the same industry fame as Roger Deakins, with the English creative having worked with the likes of the Coen brothers, Denis Villeneuve and Sam Mendes on some of Hollywood’s biggest films. Winning several prestigious accolades including five BAFTA victories in the Best Cinematography category and two Academy Awards, Deakins has made a name for himself for his unforgettable constructions of brilliant visual narratives.
In a discussion with Interview Magazine, Deakins once reflected: “I suppose everyone gets into it in a different way. I loved film when I was a kid because I was in a film society in Torquay, which is near where I am now, down in Devon. And I used to go and watch films. I fell in love with movies. My dad was a builder, so I didn’t have any connection to the arts at all. I never really considered film as a career, but I knew I didn’t want to be a builder”.
With a passionate love for the arts, Roger Deakins’ list of his very favourite films includes the likes of Dr. Strangelove from Stanley Kubrick, Once Upon a Time in the West by Sergio Leone and Paris, Texas directed by Wim Wenders.
Having worked recently with Dune director Denis Villeneuve on his 2017 film Blade Runner 2049, Deakins compared the filmmaker to Andrei Tarkovsky in his ability to tell complex yet personal science fiction stories. “I find Denis very thoughtful,” Deakins noted, adding: “He’s not somebody who just directs from a script. He’s always searching for something more than what’s on a page. His style of filmmaking is pretty exceptional these days. It probably owes more to Eastern-European or Japanese filmmaking than it does to American filmmaking”.
In Deakins’ opinion, Tarkovsky is responsible for one of the finest sci-fi films ever made, with the cinematographer noting: “One of the best science-fiction films ever made is [1972’s] Solaris…It’s a much more thoughtful film than 2001, because it’s about character. It’s not about amazing special effects”.
Considered one of the greatest films in the history of cinema, Tarkovsky’s Solaris marked a significant change in the approach to the genre of science fiction. The film, described as a ‘Soviet science fiction art film’, is based on Stanislaw Lem’s 1961 novel of the same name and stars Donatas Banionis and Natalya Bondarchuk. It revolves around a psychologist who is sent to a space station orbiting a planet called Solaris to investigate the death of a doctor as well as the conflicted mental states of the other cosmonauts only to discover that the planet has a neurology of its own.
Take a look at the trailer for Andrei Tarkovsky’s classic that Roger Deakins called “the best science-fiction films ever made,” right here.