Darius Khondji interview: ‘Bardo’ cinematographer
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” says Darius Khondji while discussing his recent Best Cinematography Oscar nomination for “Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths.” “It’s very wonderful for this movie. I’m very happy for all of us. For the director, [Alejandro González Iñárritu] and for the whole crew. They are behind each frame of the film and I just feel that it’s their nomination as much as mine. Especially Alejandro, he’s very much a director that’s behind every frame. It’s really his film.” Watch our video interview above.
“Bardo” tells the story of an acclaimed journalist-turned-documentarian named Silverio (Daniel Giménez Cacho) who goes on an introspective journey to reconcile with the past, the present and his Mexican identity. Khondji’s Oscar nomination is the second of his career; he earned his first for “Evita” in 1996.
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“It was one of the most exciting scripts I’ve ever read,” her reveals. “I was blown away. It’s an experience, like he wanted, but there was a real story. It’s very personal to [Iñárritu]. It’s in different layers between life and death. For me, I read it and I interpreted it as a real story. It has to have a component of realness into the fantastic.”
For one particularly complicated scene with over 800 extras dancing in a nightclub, Khondji used what he refers to as “the monster.” “‘The monster’ is a steady cam, but it’s a new device that you add onto the steady cam,” he explains. “It allows you to bring the camera from the floor to high up, way above the head. It was very difficult because we were shooting with a VistaVision camera, like 70 millimeter, so it’s bigger, it’s heavier. It was mounted on ‘the monster.’ ‘The monster’ is a name we added, the crew added, because it was a monster to work with. The real name of it is called Trinity. It’s a steady cam that allows you everything, but it’s very cumbersome. It made it more challenging to execute the shot.”
The director of photography reveals more secrets behind his work on the Netflix film throughout the interview. He also discusses what inspired him to become a cinematographer and his frequent collaborations with music icon Madonna.