Cinematographer: 'I'm Not There'

It was like doing six different films in one film,” says cinematographer Edward Lachman of “I’m Not There,” his latest collaboration with helmer Todd Haynes. “We’d go into one world for two weeks, and then we’d move on to the next one.”

Five years ago, the two vividly captured the suffocating world of a ’50s Connecticut suburb in “Far From Heaven.” This time, it was the many worlds of Bob Dylan. “We wanted to culturally reference the world that Dylan was living in at the time, the different attitudes toward filmmaking in America in the ’60s and ’70s, and in Europe.”

To accomplish this, Lachman looked to “antihero hippie Westerns” like “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” and to European directors like Godard, Antonioni and Fellini. The scene in which an eerily Dylanesque Cate Blanchett chats with Allen Ginsberg from the backseat of a moving car was a reference to the opening sequence of “8½.”

“The idea was that it was a subjective point of view about storytelling,” Lachman says. He shot the scene on black-and-white film stock used at the time. “Kodak Plus-X and Double-X,” Lachman says. “It has a lot more grain, but a different contrast ratio and latitude than color film does today.”


Awards pedigree: Venice Film Fest, Spirit, LAFCA, NYFCC, CFCA and BSFC wins for “Far From Heaven.”

Mentors: Robbie Mueller, Sven Nykvist and Vittorio Storaro were the first helmers with whom Lachman worked, as an operator or an American counterpart.

Visual aids: “I went to art school, so photography and painters have always held the most influence for me. In painting I’ve always been interested in German Expressionism; in photography, Robert Frank or Larry Clark.”

Favorite tool: In “I’m Not There,” Lachman used sets of lenses from the ’60s and ’70s “to evoke the feeling of the time.”

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