Video Essay: “Faces: 105 of Cinema’s Most Beautiful Close-Ups”


When we made our last video essay, “135 Shots That Will Restore Your Faith in Cinema,” we were pulling from rather a large list of suggestions — over 100 movies were named by our commenters when we posed the question “What are the most beautiful movies ever made?” We worked in as many as we could, but the limitations of time — and the attempt to conform that collection of clips into something resembling a narrative arc — caused us to leave a lot of great movies out. And while the response to that montage was almost entirely enthusiastic, there were a few grumbles that it placed too heavy an emphasis on landscapes and nature shots, and not enough on actors and faces. (In our defense, there’s an awful lot of pretty landscape and nature shots.) So we always wanted to do a follow-up to showcase a few of the titles that got left out (and some of those that were suggested in the comments for the first video); with that bit of criticism in mind, this week’s video essay focuses on actors and emotion, and the kind of beautiful photography that can result when the foreground and focus is on the human face. After the jump, take a look at our latest video essay, culled from 71 titles, “Faces: 105 of Cinema’s Most Beautiful Close-Ups.”

CREDITS Edited by Jason Bailey Music by Clint Mansell (“Death is the Road to Awe” from The Fountain )

Films (in order of appearance, with cinematographer in parenthesis): Sunset Blvd (John F. Seitz), The Painted Veil (Stuart Dryburgh), Citizen Kane (Gregg Toland), Persona (Sven Nykvist), I’m Not There (Edward Lachman), Tokyo Drifter (Shigeyoshi Mine), Heaven’s Gate (Vilmos Zsigmond), Days of Heaven (Nestor Almendros), Satantango (Gabor Medvigy), Paths of Glory (Georg Krause), The Seventh Seal (Gunnar Fischer), Apocalypse Now (Vittorio Storaro), Badlands (Tak Fujimoto, Stevan Larner, Brian Probyn), I Am Cuba (Sergei Urusevsky), Written on the Wind (Russell Metty), Chungking Express (Christopher Doyle, Wai-keung Lau), The Double Life of Veronique (Slawomir Idziak), La Dolce Vita (Otello Martelli), The New World (Emmanuel Lubezki), L’avventura (Aldo Scavarda), House of Flying Daggers (Xiaoding Zhao), The Fountain (Matthew Libatique), The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Sven Nykvist), Sans Soleil (Chris Marker), In The Mood for Love (Christopher Doyle, Pung-Leung Kwan, Ping Bin Lee), Last Year at Marienbad (Sacha Vierny), Kagemusha (Takao Saito, Shoji Ueda), The Godfather (Gordon Willis), Road to Perdition (Conrad L. Hall), The Man from London (Fred Kelemen), Lovers of the Arctic Circle (Gonzalo F. Berridi), Border Incident (John Alton), Romeo and Juliet (Pasqualino De Santis), Barry Lyndon (John Alcott), The Tree of Life (Emmanuel Lubezki), Contempt (Raoul Coutard), Amelie (Bruno Delbonnel), The Conformist (Vittorio Storaro), My Blueberry Nights (Darius Khondji, Pung-Leung Kwan), The Thin Red Line (John Toll), Ashes of Time (Christopher Doyle, Pung-Leung Kwan), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Roger Deakins), Mongol (Rogier Stoffers, Sergey Trofimov), Quills (Rogier Stoffers), Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Navarro), All That Heaven Allows (Russell Metty), Children of Paradise (Roger Hubert), The Duellists (Frank Tidy), 2001: A Space Odyssey (Geoffrey Unsworth), Mishima, Baraka (Ron Fricke), Curse of the Golden Flower (Xiaoding Zhao), Onibaba (Kiyomi Kuroda), Memoirs of a Geisha (Dion Beebe), Searching for Bobby Fischer (Conrad L. Hall), Out of the Past (Nicholas Musuraca), Magnificent Obsession (Russell Metty), Far From Heaven (Edward Lachman), The Red Shoes (Jack Cardiff), Vertigo (Robert Burks), Bellflower (Joel Hodge), Come and See (Aleksei Rodionov), Night of the Shooting Stars (Franco Di Giacomo), The Reader (Roger Deakins, Chris Menges), Black Orpheus (Jean Bourgoin), Casablanca (Arthur Edeson), Nights of Cabiria (Aldo Tonit), Hiroshima Mon Amour (Michio Takahashi, Sacha Vierny), Delicatessen (Darius Khondji), Oldboy (Chung-hoon Chung)