Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Shooting Kinski #4: Richard Suzuki
With the possible exception of Francis Lai's score, the best thing about Nastassja's fourth film, PASSION FLOWER HOTEL, is the lovely photography of cinematographer Richard Suzuki.
I have been unable to locate much information on Suzuki. IMDB only lists him as having four credits with PASSION FLOWER HOTEL being his last. I have seen the other three also and they are the great 1968 documentary on Muhammad Ali, THE GREATEST, the fun Jane Birkin film, CATHERINE AND CO. and the real winner of the bunch, Just Jaeckin's EMMANUELLE.
It is clear that the man responsible for the lush and incredibly beautiful soft focus photography of EMMANUELLE is also responsible for PASSION FLOWER HOTEL. Even at its most inane, the film is incredible to look at and Suzuki photographs Kinski wonderfully. Particularly effective is the train sequence at the beginning where the cross cutting between the rural Austrian countryside, the compartmentalized train and Kinski's expressive face play off wonderfully together. Most noteworthy is the film's climatic love scene which, in Suzuki's hands, is a perfect example of how to photograph the human body with the most cinematic uses of shadows, colors and lights.
It has been frustrating attempting to find out information on this man and what happened to him. He was obviously a very talented photographer and his work, specifically on EMMANUELLE, influenced a lot of different films and filmmakers. His work in his three features from the seventies reminds me very much of David Hamilton's work from the same period.
PASSION FLOWER HOTEL might be one of Nastassja's weaker earlier films but at the very least it gave her the opportunity to once again be photographed by a fine, if less than prolific, cinematographer.