Thursday, March 20, 2008
Shooting Kinski: Witold Sobocinski
Award winning Polish cinematographer Witold Sobocinski has had a fascinating career behind the camera since beginning his career in the mid fifties. Originally starting out as a camera assistant after flirtations as a Jazz Musician and as a teacher, Sobocinski graduated to the role of Cinematographer in the late sixties and was soon working with such noted directors as Andrzej Zulawski and Roman Polanski. His work on Torrents of Spring, in which he shared photography duties with Dante Spinotti, marks one of his final features and it is a beautifully shot production that might not be among his greatest works but is a worthwhile addition to his filmography.
Born in Poland just before Halloween in 1929, Sobocinski is probably best known in The United States for his work with Roman Polanski on films like Frantic (1988) but it is Zulawski’s chilling and intense The Third Part of The Night (1971) that probably stands as his greatest achievement. His work is always marked with by a hyper-realistic edge that many key Polish directors have taken advantage of with the most notable probably being the two above.
Torrents of Spring would not be the first time Sobocinski had worked with director Jerry Skolimowski as the two had began collaborating as early as 1970’s The Adventures Of Gerard. Their most famous, or infamous, collaboration remains 1981’s Hand’s Up, a film that would garner them much controversy and would get them both in trouble with Polish authorities.
Torrents of Spring is a lovely and beautifully lit period based production that was done a major disservice on home video in the United States as the VHS didn’t capture Sobocinski’s photography the way it should have. Unfortunately this disappointing VHS copy is currently the only way to see the film right now in this country, and it has hurt the films reputation considerably.
Sobocinski’s son, Piotr, is just as talented as his father and his work with Kieslowski on such films Dekalog (1990) and Red (1994) is already the stuff of legend. Witold at near eighty years old is no longer working on films but his legacy behind the camera will continue to inspire for years to come…