Sunday, July 20, 2008

Shooting Kinski: Jurgen Jurges

Award winning cinematographer Jurgen Jurges was born in war ravaged Germany a couple of weeks before Christmas in 1940. Jurges discovered a natural eye for photography very early on and by his twenties it was his main focus and passion. He began his cinematic career in 1966 as an assistant cameraman on the acclaimed Young Torless from director Volker Schlondorff.
Things really began to kick in gear for the talented Jurges when he shot Ulli Lommell’s astonishing Tenderness of the Wolves in 1973 which led him directly to Lommell’s mentor, Ranier Werner Fassbinder.
With the legendary Fassbinder, Jurgen shot some of the most important films of the seventies including Ali: Fear Eats The Soul (1974), Effi Breist (1974) and Fear of Fear (1975).
As essential as his work for Fassbinder is, my favorite project of Jurgen’s is absolutely Uli Edel’s heartbreaking 1981 feature Christiane F., one of the most powerful films centering on drug addiction ever filmed. Jurgen’s work is absolutely superb in this production and it is hard to imagine the film’s spiritually icy landscape being photographed by anyone else.
Jurgen’s work on the black and white and color Faraway, So Close is quite striking and he would be honored with a German Oscar for his work on the film. Surprisingly it remains the only time Wenders and Jurgen would work together, even though artistically they seemed to represent a perfect fit. It would also mark the only time he ever photgraphed Nastassja in a film.
Jurgen’s continues to be one of the most in demand cinematographers in Germany and in 2002 he was given a lifetime achievement award at the German Oscars, an honor well deserved for one of cinema’s most striking stylists.

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