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Ben Smithard on Jeff Cronenweth

Eye on the Oscars: The Cinematographer

His collaborations with David Fincher are pure genius. When I watch “The Social Network” or “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” I just wish I had shot them, pure and simple.

Jeff’s new film pushes his work on “Social Network” into a different class. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” uses its North European locations to great effect; the subtle use of color always constitutes a voyage of discovery. When watching this film I almost feel I am discovering colors I’ve never seen before onscreen. They maybe subtle variations of yellow, green, brown, mustard, tan, rouge, ochre — but they always seem original.

Cronenweth and Fincher are almost redesigning our urban environment and how we look at ourselves.

The movement of the camera resembles the first images I saw in the cinema. I get a tingle when I’m being tracked down a corridor with Cronenweth’s camera.

Having spent the last 20 years trying to make the North European landscape visually interesting, I understand the problems of the light and texture as well as anyone. In “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Jeff Cronenweth has turned up and said, “What took you so long? Here’s how you do it!”

I would hazard a guess you could put Cronenweth and Fincher in a cardboard box with hardly any light, and they would still come up with the film of the year.

The only problem is that one film a year is not enough!

To comment on Jeff Cronenweth’s work is to comment on a master, in my opinion.

Ben Smithard, the d.p. behind “My Week With Marilyn,” is currently in production on the Shakespearean TV movies, “Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2,” starring Jeremy Irons.


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