SEVENTY LIGHT YEARS by Freddie Young

SEVENTY LIGHT YEARS

A Life in the Movies
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KIRKUS REVIEW

One of the great British cinematographers, Young completed this slender autobiography shortly before his death at 96 last December. Young enjoyed—and that is definitely the word—a long and distinguished career as a director of photography. He shot over 160 feature films (as well as thousands of commercials), was awarded an Order of the British Empire by the queen, and won Oscars for his work on Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, and Ryan’s Daughter, his three collaborations with David Lean. A list of the directors he worked with would include not only Lean, but also John Ford, George Cukor, Vincente Minnelli, King Vidor, Sir Carol Reed, and Michael Powell. Young was one of the last survivors of the silent era, having begun his career as a lab assistant at Gaumont Studios when he was only 14. In this gently amusing volume he emerges as a gracious figure, albeit one who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Clearly a man who loves his work, Young is at his most animated when he’s explaining how he and his team conquered technical challenges. How does one re-create snowswept Russia in temperate Spain? (With a mixture of marble dust, shaving cream, and whitewash.) What are the special problems that accompany shooting in the Sahara Desert? (Keeping people’s footprints out of the sand dunes is one of the most prominent of these.) The book is a loosely chronological retelling of Young’s career, sprinkled with pleasant anecdotes, but little of his personal life comes out. An amiable read for film buffs.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-571-19793-0
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1999




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