A Blog from Nick

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WRITE OR WRONG?

Traveling on a plane from NY to Houston the week before last, I was reading the New York Times, marveling at the high quality of journalism they have managed to maintain and musing upon what is likely to happen to the publication in the future, as print media migrates further towards the Internet. Whilst I am all for progress and firmly believe that our opportunities to make good use of technology outweigh the negative effects, I cannot help but question some of the decisions we make. How did we end up choosing VHS over Betamax, when Beta was clearly a superior format? Why did we banish the vinyl album in favour of the CD? And now, worse still, the MP3? These are declining standards and we are forsaking quality for convenience.

With the advent of the digital book, I imagine it will slowly permeate the world and little by little those few small bookstores that have survived the great attack of Amazon, will eventually have to hand back their keys; this saddens me. In the same way I foresee the inevitable impact newspapers will suffer as they become victims of cost cuts; having to scale back their operations, in order to conform to the new online model. I sincerely hope the standard of writing in the towering publications will not be compromised, but fear there will be more casualties than anticipated, which could result in the production of a newspaper such as the New York Times, greatly diminished in style, size and content. In my opinion, this would indeed be a pity, as not everything in life is best abbreviated. Just think, I could have turned this blog into a tweet, but would I have managed to make my point?

Anyway, I digress from what I really wanted say; In the Times, I noticed an obituary for filmmaker, Jack Cardiff. A couple of years ago I received an invitation to an exhibition of his photographs in London, I had long been a great admirer of his work as a cinematographer, so I was thrilled to attend. As I had suspected, the photos were stunningly beautiful, he had managed to capture the essence of all his subjects in a single frame. The show featured transcendent photos of many iconic actresses including Ava Gardner and Marilyn Monroe. Just when I thought I had seen every image there was to be seen of Marilyn, here was another undiscovered gem.

I was fortunate enough to meet Jack that evening, he couldn't have been more charming, I only wish I had spent more time with him to hear the unedited versions of the stories of his journey. In the brief time we spent together, my impression was of a man who really had lived his life and made a remarkable contribution to the visual arts in doing so. Jack Cardiff was renowned for his lighting techniques and use of colour; all of his cinematography has a painterly quality, so it was no surprise to find out that he was influenced by Caravaggio and Rembrandt.

His works have been a true inspiration to me, so for those of you who are not familiar with his oeuvre, but who would like to experience something very special, I recommend that you start by seeing the quintessential British classic film: A Matter Of Life And Death. Then, you should swiftly move on to more Powell and Pressburger masterpieces: The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus. Or you could also try the sublime: Pandora And The Flying Dutchman. For those slightly less adventurous, perhaps: The African Queen, Under Capricorn and War and Peace, which are all treasures too. Finally, for those in search of a sixties cult classic, Jack Cardiff directed, The Girl On A Motorcycle, which features Marianne Faithful in a leather jumpsuit... What more could you ask for?

Enjoy the view.

Nick

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