Richard Leacock

Richard Leacock ( born July 18, 1921 in London, England; † March 23, 2011 in Paris, France) was a British director and cinematographer of documentary films and one of the founders of Direct Cinema.


Richard Leacock grew up on a banana plantation in the Canary Islands on ( his family acted with Madeira wine and bananas). When he was sent at age eight in a school in England, he studied there for a way to describe his classmates living in the Canaries. Finally, he made ​​his first film, Canary Iceland Bananas, a ten- minute-long silent film.

From 1938 to 1939 he accompanied an expedition with his camera the ornithologist David Lack to the Canary Islands and the Galapagos Islands. To learn more about the technical basics of filmmaking, he studied physics at Harvard University. Meanwhile, he worked as a cameraman and assistant editor on the films of other directors.

During the war he worked for three years for the U.S. Army as a battlefield photographer in Burma and the Republic of China. In 1946 he was engaged by Robert J. Flaherty as a cameraman for Louisiana Legend (Louisiana Story). He then worked until 1954 in a series of relatively conventional professions.

In 1954 he turned his first film since Canary Bananas Iceland, in which he wrote himself, directed by, the camera operated and the cut worried. Toby and the Tall Corn was broadcast on a television station for culture in prime time and brought Leacock in contact with Roger Tilton, for he turned Jazz Dance, a film by innovative use of hand-held camera and with the principle of simultaneous continuous recording of image and clay ( this is the most important stylistic device of Direct Cinema ) gives you the feeling in the middle of a lot to Dixieland music people dancing to be.

The use of hand-held camera and the direct sound recording were for Leacock also so important because working with a heavy, fixed camera and the laborious, mostly post-synchronization of picture and sound spontaneity in both the filmmaker and the to filming people prevented. Now the cinematic technology was no longer in the foreground, direct, unobtrusive observation was possible, which led to more authentic recordings. The break with tradition was clear: goods previously perfect and smooth the images of documentation, so now ruled moving, blurred, sometimes shaky settings.

In the early 1960s he founded together with Robert Drew, D. A. Pennebaker and other production company Drew Associates. The most significant result of this collaboration was the primary campaign Documentary (Primary), who described a prefix in Wisconsin and close portraits of John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey delivered. Henri Langlois called Primary a " perhaps the most important documentaries since the Lumière brothers '.

Leacock left Drew Associates in 1963 and co-founded his own production company Pennebaker. In 1968 he built a new film school at MIT with Ed Pinkus. The line where he held until 1988. In 1989, Leacock to Paris, where he Les oeufs à la coque made ​​, the first rotated with a small video -8 Handycam movie that was shown on prime time French television.

Leacock worked frequently with movies, the politically relative position ( so protested about The Chair against the death penalty ). He describes himself as a " communist relic ". In his essay The Art of Home Movies celebrates the Leacock by digital technology possible for everyone to become film production as democracy gains. It fits to this attitude that invites Leacock on its website Internet users to edit pages, and contribute all types of media.

He died in 2011 in Paris.



" I tend to fool around on the edge of events. I see myself as an observer. Sometimes enthusiastic. I see myself not even as a filmmaker, and I want to really do not know these big, huge things that are brought to the cinema. Boring, at least most of them. All I can do is capture fleeting impressions. [ ... ] By the way, has almost nothing to do verité with the word ( the 'truth' means ), but in order to capture the feeling of being there. "

" I have problems with television editors. The do not understand me. They want you to explain everything. I let things rather open and conveys the feeling of standing in the center of the action. But everything I see in television films today, chatting people, talking heads are. I'm not interested. For me, each only he is to be yourself - no talking skull ".

Selected filmography



Film about Leacock