Lubezki: El personaje y el espacio

One of the main genres, if you want, within video essay production concerns the analysis of a particular filmmaker’s trademark style. Most often a director is the subject of such a formalist analysis (an aftereffect of the once dominant auteur theory). But directors of photography also command enough fascination to warrant video essays being dedicated to their work. YouTube video essayist Wolfcrow even devoted an entire series to in-depth looks at the styles of great cinematographers. The Spanish online film magazine El antepenúltimo mohicano (nice name, by the way) also made a foray into this subgenre with this insightful essay about the cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki.


The video traces the development of the Mexican cinematographer’s trademark techniques across three movies, all directed by compatriots of his: Children of Men (2006, Alfonso Cuarón) and Birdman and The Revenant (2014 and 2015, both Alejandro González Iñárritu). The maker of this video essay, Juan Agustín Montón, pays ample attention to the technical choices Lubezki makes: he for instance details the focal lengths that “Chivo” uses most often. But there’s more to this effort than just technical geekery. Montón supplements those technical details with thoughts on Lubezki’s staging and blocking. All those elements become the starting point to discuss the DOP’s immersive ambitions, his photographic poetics. The epigraphic format that the maker chose may not be the best fit for this particular subject (the Spanish texts are onscreen only briefly at times, and can distract from the very images that are being studied here) but Montón makes up for this with his solid analysis.