Visions of Light (1992)

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Cameramen and women discuss the craft and art of cinematography and of the "DP" (the director of photography), illustrating their points with clips from 100 films, from Birth of a Nation to... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Himself (as Ernest Dickerson)
Michael Chapman ...
Allen Daviau ...
Lisa Rinzler ...
Conrad L. Hall ...
Himself (as Conrad Hall)
William A. Fraker ...
John Bailey ...
Néstor Almendros ...
Himself (as Nestor Almendros)
Charles Rosher Jr. ...
Himself (as Charles D. Rosher)
Stephen H. Burum ...
Harry L. Wolf ...
Himself (as Harry Wolf)
Charles Lang ...
Himself (as Charles B. Lang)


Cameramen and women discuss the craft and art of cinematography and of the "DP" (the director of photography), illustrating their points with clips from 100 films, from Birth of a Nation to Do the Right Thing. Themes: the DP tells people where to look; changes in movies (the arrival of sound, color, and wide screens) required creative responses from DPs; and, these artisans constantly invent new equipment and try new things, with wonderful results. The narration takes us through the identifiable studio styles of the 30s, the emergence of noir, the New York look, and the impact of Europeans. Citizen Kane, The Conformist, and Gordon Willis get special attention. Written by <>

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Release Date:

24 February 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$799,856 (USA)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Director Todd McCarthy had hoped to include an interview with the legendary cinematographer, John Alton, whose work is highlighted in the film, but could not locate him. Alton had quit the movie business after working on Elmer Gantry (1960), and for many years, even close friends didn't know his whereabouts, or if he was still alive. In 1992, McCarthy was shocked to receive a phone call from the now 91-year-old Alton, who had heard about Visions of Light (1992), and wanted to attend the premiere. Alton insisted that there was nothing mysterious in his disappearance, that he and his wife had simply decided to give up the movie business and travel a bit. They had lived in France, Germany, and Argentina, and had a great time. Alton died in 1996 at the age of 95. See more »


Vittorio Storaro: I understood at that moment that cinema really has no nationality.
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Edited from The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939) See more »


If 6 Was 9
Written by Jimi Hendrix
Performed by The Jimi Hendrix Experience during a clip from Easy Rider (1969)
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User Reviews

6 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Yes, it ignores most of Europe and the rest of the worlds contributions, but for what it is, it's just lovely.

It's an introduction to the art of cinematography in American movies, with clips and comments from the greats about American film from birth till 1990 or so, when it was made. Some of the cinematographers are humble and self-effacing, some clearly have large egos, but they all obviously love and care deeply about film and film making.

This is a terrific film to show your children, a behind the scenes that is informative rather than salacious or snarky.

Highly recommended.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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