Philippe Rousselot - Writer

Cinematographer. Nationality: French. Born: Meurthe et Moselle, France, 4 September 1945; moved from Paris to New York. Education: Attended "Vaugirard," Ecole Louis Lumiere Film School in Paris, 1964–66. Family: Married 1981; one daughter. Career: Early work on documentaries; worked as loader for Nestor Almedros on Ma Nuit Chez Maud (My Night at Maud's) , 1969; worked in commercials and still photography with Sara Moon; camera assistant on Eric Rohmer films; directorial debut, The Serpent's Kiss , 1996. Awards: Prix Jean Vigo, for Paradiso , 1972; Prix Special, Cannes, for La Drolesse , 1978; National Society of Film Critics Award (USA) for Best Cinematography, and Cesar Award (France) for Best Cinematography, for Diva , 1982; Cesar Award for Best Cinematography, for Theresa , 1987; National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cinematography, and British Society of Cinematographers Award for Best Cinematography, for Hope and Glory , 1987; Academy Award for Best Cinematography, for A River Runs Through It , 1993; British Society of Cinematographers Award for Best Cinematography, and BAFTA (UK) Award for Best Cinematography, for Interview With the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles , 1994; Cesar Award for Best Cinematography, for La Reine Margot (Queen Margot) , 1995. Agent: David Gersh, Gersh Agency, 232 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, U.S.A.

Films as Cinematographer:


Clair de Terre (Gilles)


Absences Repetees (Gilles)


Paradiso (Bricoult); L'Affiche Rouge (The Red Poster) (Cassenti); Pour Clemence (Belmont)


La Raison du Plus Fou (Reichenbach); Il Pleut Toujours (Simon)


Couple Temoin (Klein)


Diabolo Menthe (Peppermint Soda) (Kurys); Adam (Benamou)


La Drolesse (Doillon); La Vie de Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Goretta)


Cocktail Molotov (Kurys)


La Provinciale (The Girl From Lorranine) (Goretta)


Diva (Beineix); La Gueule du Loup (Leviant); Guy de Maupassant (Drach)


La Lune dans le Caniveau (Moon in the Gutter) (Beineix); Les Voleurs de la Nuit (Fuller)


Nemo (Selignac)


Emerald Forest (Boorman); Night Magic (Furey)


Therese (Cavaliere)


Hope and Glory (Boorman)


L'ours (Annaud)


Dangerous Liasons (Frears); Trop belle pour toi (Blier)


Henry and June (Kaufman); We're No Angels (Jordan)


The Miracle (Jordan); Merci la vie (Blier)


A River Runs Through It (Redford)


Sommersby (Amiel); Flesh and Bone (Kloves)


La Reine Margot (Quenn Margot) (Chereau)


Interview With the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (Jordan); Mary Riley (Frears)


The People vs. Larry Flint (Forman)


Instinct (Turteltaub)


Random Hearts (Pollack)


Remember the Titans ; The Tailor of Panama

Films as Camera Assistant:


Ma Nuit Chez Maud (My Night at Maud's) (Rohmer)


Le Genou de Claire (Claire's Knee) (Rohmer)


L'Amour l'apres-midi (Chloe in the Afternoon) (Rohmer)

Other Films:


The Serpent's Kiss (d)


On ROUSSELOT: articles—

Hewitt, C., "Anguish and Light Balls," in Eyepiece (Middlesex), vol. 15, no. 4, 1994.

"Interview with the Vampire," in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), January 1995.

"Rousselot at 'Serpent' Helm," in Hollywood Reporter , 5 February 1996.

Geffner, David, "Shooting Stars: Interviews with the World's Greatest Living Cinematographers," in MovieMaker , no. 29, July 1998.

* * *

Philippe Rousselot first caught the attention of Hollywood with his work as cinematographer on the John Boorman film Hope and Glory in 1986, but he had been celebrated throughout Europe and in his native France for many years prior. His work on the 1982 Diva won the Cesar (the French equivalent of the Academy Award) for Best Cinematography and propelled his career to new levels. He received another Cesar for Therese , a 1985 work which chronicled the life of a fiercely faithful Carmelite nun. Rousselot's work is lyrical, passionate, and subtle in its execution. His films never suffer from apparent technique, but reveal an appreciation for the sublime qualities of light and color.

Rousselot began his career as a camera assistant on several Eric Rohmer films. The first was Ma Nuit Chez Maud (1969), where he worked beside esteemed cinematographer Nestor Almendros as a camera loader. This apprenticeship was apparently instrumental in Rousselot's development. Rousselot credits this experience as a profound influence, along with his work in commercials with still photographer Sara Moon. Before this, though, there was Jean Cocteau. Rousselot was a child of eleven when he first saw the French avantgarde filmmaker's work, and he found them "so moving, emotionally, visually, and intellectually. They were complete magic to me," he told MovieMaker interviewer David Geffner. Other films which expanded his horizons included the works of Ingmar Bergman, Frederico Fellini, and the German Expressionists.

Rousselot embraced the masters from an early age, and he undoubtedly learned a great deal from all this study. By 1970 he was working as the Director of Photography on the French film Clair de Terre , and found such success that he performed in the same capacity in nearly two films per year in the first decade of his career. This prolific pace continued, with quality never suffering as Rousselot shaped important works by such directors as Phillip Kaufman ( Henry and June ), Neil Jordan (We're No Angels , Interview With the Vampire) , Robert Redford, Sidney Pollack, Milos Forman, and many others.

Rousselot's work has won much praise from his peers. In 1993, he won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for Redford's flyfishing film A River Runs Through It. It was his third nomination for the award. Honor has also come from the French Cesar Awards, where he has claimed the title of Best Cinematographer three times, for Beineix' Diva , Cavaliere's Therese , and Chereau's La Reine Margot (Queen Margot). Rousselot received the BAFTA, similar to the Cesar and the Academy Awards, for his work in Jordan's 1994 film Interview With the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles , based on the best-selling book by Anne Rice.

Rousselot's work is highly praised in part because of his delicate lighting design. He uses such devises as Chinese lanterns to soften spectral light and shape his elegant compositions. He works to complement film content and tone with tailored illumination. This is especially evident in such films as Therese , where the lighting shifts to enhance the feeling of holiness within this tale of a young, remarkably passionate nun. His Henry and June shows a loving replication of tonal qualities seen in the still photographs of Brassai, a peripheral character in the film. One wonders where Rousselot's fine artistic sensibilities will lead him next, as he continues to work on an astonishing number of films from the most important directors of our time.

—Tammy Kinsey

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