(Credit: Wikimedia)

Six Kinds of Light: Exploring the masterful work of Stanley Kubrick’s cinematographer John Alcott

John Alcott, an English cinematographer best known for his four collaborations with director iconic director Stanley Kubrick, is widely accepted as being one of the most talented craftsmen of light in the history of his field. 

Having begun his career alongside Kubrick by stepping up as a lighting cameraman on the pioneering 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alcott went on to enjoy success as a cinematographer on A Clockwork Orange (1971), and, four years later, Barry Lyndon—the film for which he eventually won an Oscar. The film itself is considered to be one of the most strikingly beautiful ever made. 

Rounding off his work with Kubrick, Alcott contributed wholeheartedly to the style and appearance of 1980 film The Shining, a picture arguably defines the director’s work. “I hope you will not fall into the trap of believing John Alcott was just a puppet,” the video explains.

Adding: “He held his own. And maybe they should have given him a special Oscar just for being able to deal with Kubrick.”

Tragically, just six years later, Alcott died after suffering a heart attack while in Cannes, France. He was just 55. A tribute at the end of his final project, No Way Out, signified his importance, impact and legacy left on the film industry. To commemorate the artist, the British Society of Cinematographers founded an award named after him – the John Alcott ARRI Award. 

With inspired camera movement and the ingenious use of natural light, Alcott was able shots that looked as delicately defined as a prestigious oil painting. 

“He is a perfectionist in every degree,” Alcott once said of Kubrick. “He demands that everything is right, everything is exact. When he walks on the set that it’s his freedom to work, that you must be ready. And you’re given every chance to be ready.”

Here, in a short documentary, explore the work of Alcott in detail: 

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