GREAT CINEMATOGRAPHERS


#1: 1918

#3: [Right] with dir Jean-Pierre Mocky [left]

 

   


LÉONCE-HENRI BUREL

 

Born: 23 November 1892, Indret, Loire-Atlantique, Pays-de-la-Loire, France. Also credited as L.H. or L.-H. Burel.

Died: 21 March 1977, Mougins, Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France.

Education: University of Nantes [Art].

Career: Worked as photo-engraver and photo-typographer. Entered film industry circa 1913 dir pseudo-scientific films for Cosmographe under superv of Dr. Comandon. Ph shorts [dir by Henri Wulschléger] starring the comedian Zinel. Worked for a while with L'Éclair Laboratories. In 1914, he ph some films dir by Le Somptier. Engaged as doph [chef opérateur] by Louis Nalpas, interim director of 'Le Film d'Art', in 1915. Was official ph of the 1918 Armistice celebrations in Paris and London.

Wrote the book 'Opérations de prises de vues, développement et tirages de films'.

Appeared in the tv-doc 'Cinéma de notre temps: Abel Gance, portrait brisé' [1964, Hubert Knapp].

Awards: Venice IFF 'Best Cinematography' [1951] for 'Journal d'un curé de campagne'.



A cinematographer is like a chameleon, in that his job is to capture whatever diverse moods and images are required by his director. Abel Gance and Robert Bresson are a pair of directors with profoundly different aesthetics. So, if these two are among the most revered French filmmakers of the pre-Nouvelle Vague, then Léonce-Henri Burel [who photographed several films directed by Gance and Bresson] must not only be a master of versatility, but one of the greatest of all French cinematographers.

This could be the case if only for longevity: Burel's career spans seven decades, with credits that include a healthy share of French cinema classics from Gance's 'Mater Dolorosa' in 1917 and his first version of 'J'accuse!' in 1918 through Bresson's 'Procès de Jeanne d'Arc' in 1962. Indeed, in The Parade's Gone By..., Kevin Brownlow calls the cinematographer 'brilliant'; in his book on the reconstruction of Gance's 1926 epic, 'Napoléon' [on which Burel served as a chief cameraman], Brownlow refers to him as 'one of the finest cinematographers Europe has ever known.'

Burel established his reputation as the photographer of Gance's most important early films, culminating with his work on 'Napoléon' as part of a team of cinematographers. Much of Burel's initial collaboration with Gance predates the German Expressionism of the 1920s: in close-ups in 'Barbe-Rousse', the camera is set below the actor's face, resulting in stark, expressive imagery; in 'Mater Dolorosa', light and shade are utilized to vividly emphasize facial expressions.

'J'accuse!' features images which depict the devastation of war in grand, panoramic terms. It is highlighted by the famous, allegorical 'Return of the Dead' sequence, in which thousands of deceased First World War soldiers collectively rise from the battlefields and march off to see if their sacrifices were in vain. Burel's camera captures Gance's vision in vividly eerie detail.

Whatever Burel's specific contribution to 'Napoléon', the film remains a landmark of cinematographic innovation. It is crammed with majestic images, including detailed battle sequences, and is a startling example of the creative use of the camera. There is camera movement to imitate a ship in a storm at sea; spectacular lighting; handheld cameras attached to horses, pendulums, even a toboggan; and, finally, color sequences [the latter, according to Georges Sadoul, was Burel's major contribution to 'Napoléon'].

As the Gance films feature images that portray reality in expressive, panoramic terms, and that are intended to stir the senses, Burel's films with Robert Bresson [including 'Journal d'un curé de campagne', 'Un condamné à mort s'est échappé', 'Pickpocket' and 'Procès de Jeanne d'Arc'] offer visuals that explore their characters' inner workings. His dusky blacks and glaring greys are perfect accompaniments to Bresson's highly personal vision: pastoral and intimate depictions of reality as a still-life, with the resulting emotion deriving from images that are austere, that evolve from the filmmaker's particular world view.

Contrasted with 'J'accuse!' or 'Napoléon', there is a visual monotony, but that is precisely Bresson's scheme. His concern is the characters and their sensitivities, how they look when they ask questions and give answers.

Burel's own career as a director - he made a trio of features between 1922 and 1932 - remains minor. But his work with Gance and Bresson - he also collaborated with a gallery of other filmmakers, including Jacques Feyder, Marcel L'Herbier, Jean Benoît-Lévy and Maurice Tourneur - is indicative of his outstanding ability to capture images that fit each filmmakers' diversely varying cinematic vision. [From article by Rob Edelman on the filmreference.com website.]


 

 FILMS

NOTE: It is often difficult to figure out whether or not a cph notation is appropriate, particularly as regards pre-war French films. In some publications, e.g. the IMDb, Burel is mentioned as doph alongside others. It's most likely that these men are his operators and/or assistants. Mr. Burel wrote to the magazine Film Dope: '...on all these films I was chef opérateur, working with an assistant. I myself never worked as assistant. I never had a collaborator in the narrow sense of the word, but colleagues for whom I was entirely responsible.'

1914

Dans les griffes de la peur [Georges-André Lacroix] b&w; short/?m

1914

La dénonciatrice [Georges-André Lacroix] b&w

1914

L'heure tragique [Georges-André Lacroix] b&w; short/?m

1914

Le comte de Monte Cristo ['Épisode 1: Edmond Dantès', 'Épisode 2: Le trésor de Monte Cristo', 'Épisode 3: Le philanthrope', 'Épisode 4: Simbad le marin', 'Épisode 5: La conquête de Paris', 'Épisode 6: Les trois vengeances', 'Épisode 7: Les derniers exploits de Caderousse' & 'Épisode 8: Châtiments' dir by Henri Pouctal] b&w; filmed 1914-17; released in 1918

1915

Alsace [Henri Pouctal] b&w

1915

L'énigme de dix heures [Abel Gance] b&w

1915

Un drame au château d'Acre/Les morts reviennent-ils? [Abel Gance] b&w; short/6m

1915

Strass et Compagnie [Abel Gance] b&w

1915

L'héroïsme de Paddy [Abel Gance] b&w

1915

La fleur des ruines [Abel Gance] b&w

1916

Le fou de la falaise [Abel Gance] b&w

1916

Fioritures ou Sources de beauté/La source de beauté [Abel Gance] b&w

1916

Ce que les flots racontent [Abel Gance] b&w

1916

Les gaz mortels/Le brouillard sur la ville [Abel Gance] b&w

1916

Le droit à la vie [Abel Gance] b&w

1916

La femme inconnue [Gaston Ravel] b&w

1917

Les mouettes [Maurice Mariaud] b&w

1917

Mater Dolorosa/The Torture of Silence [Abel Gance] b&w

1917

Barbe-Rousse/Barberousse [Abel Gance] b&w

1917

Les deux amours [Charles Burguet] b&w

1917

La zone de la mort/The Zone of Death [Abel Gance] b&w

1918

Le marchand de bonheur [Georges-André Lacroix] b&w

1918

L'expiation/Le marquis de Vilbois [Camille de Morlhon] b&w

1918

Ecce Homo/Le soleil noir [Abel Gance] b&w

1918

La dixième symphonie [Abel Gance] b&w

 

 

1918

J'accuse/I Accuse [Abel Gance] b&w; cph: M(aurice) Forster & M(arc) Bujard; 3 & 4-part versions + re-edited 1921 version

1919

Mademoiselle de la Seiglière [André Antoine] b&w

1920

L'hirondelle et la mésange/L'alouette et la mésange [André Antoine] b&w; unfinished; film was edited by Henri Colpi and released in 1984 in tinted version

1920

La roue [Abel Gance] b&w; several versions; released in 1923

1920

Face à l'océan [René Leprince] b&w

1921

L'Arlésienne [André Antoine] b&w

1922

La conquête des Gaules [Léonce-Henri Burel, Yan B. Dyl & Marcel Yonnet] b&w; 47m; + small part

1922

Crainquebille/Bill/Coster Bill of Paris [Jacques Feyder] tinted

1922

Visages d'enfants/Faces of Children [Jacques Feyder] tinted; released in 1925; restored in 1993

1923

Paternité [Gennaro Dini] b&w; 55m

1923

Das Bildnis/L'image [Jacques Feyder] b&w

1924

Salammbô/Der Kampf um Karthago [Pierre Marodon] b&w

1925

Michel Strogoff [Viktor Tourjansky] b&w-c

1926

Napoléon/Napoléon vu par Abel Gance/Abel Gance's Napoleon [Abel Gance] b&w/tinted; originally in Polyvision (triptych format); 330m; as tech asst (superv the 2u ph - e.g. Roger Hubert - working under dir Viktor Tourjansky, Blaise Cendrars, a.o.); ph: Jules Kruger; vfx superv + co-sfx: Eugen Schüfftan; there are many versions of this film, e.g. in 1981 (235m); filmed January-June 1925 & January-August 1926; released in 1927

1926

Autour de Napoléon [Abel Gance] b&w; behind-the-scenes doc/?m; released in 1928

1927

Casanova/Prince of Adventurers/The Loves of Casanova [Alexandre Volkoff] b&w-c

1927

Die Apachen von Paris/Paname n'est pas Paris/Schon wieder eine Seele.../Apaches of Paris [Nikolai Malikoff] b&w; as tech adv; ph: Roger Hubert (1st version) & Jules Kruger (2nd version)

1927

Morgane la sirène/Morgane the Enchantress [Léonce Perret] b&w

1927

La danseuse Orchidée/The Orchid Dancer/Woman of Destiny [Léonce Perret] b&w

1928

The Three Passions/Les trois passions [Rex Ingram] b&w

1928

L'équipage/The Crew/The Last Flight [Maurice Tourneur] b&w

1928

Nuits de princes [Marcel L'Herbier] b&w

1929

Le requin [Henri Chomette] b&w

1929

Vénus [Louis Mercanton] b&w

1930

L'étrangère [Gaston Ravel] b&w

1930

La straniera [Amleto Palermi & Gaston Ravel] b&w; Italian-language version of 'L'étrangère'

1930

Die Fremde [Fred Sauer] b&w; German-language version of 'L'étrangère'

1930

La femme d'une nuit [Marcel L'Herbier] b&w

1930

Die Königin einer Nacht [Fritz Wendhausen] b&w; cph: Günther Krampf; German-language version of 'La femme d'une nuit'

1930

La donna di una notte [Amleto Palermi (superv) & Marcel L'Herbier (asked for his name to be removed)] b&w; Italian-language version of 'La femme d'une nuit'

1930

Le mystère de la chambre jaune/The Mystery of the Yellow Room [Marcel L'Herbier] b&w; + small part

1930

Un soir de rafle/Dragnet Night [Carmine Gallone] b&w

1931

L'aiglon [Viktor Tourjansky] b&w; cph: Franz Planer; French-language version of 'Der Herzog von Reichstadt' (1931, Victor Tourjansky; ph: F. Planer)

1931

Danton [Hans Behrendt] b&w

1932

Il a été perdu une mariée [Léo Joannon] b&w

1932

Baroud/Love in Morocco [Rex Ingram & Alice Terry] b&w; 65m; English-language version

1932

Baroud/Les hommes bleus [André Jaeger-Schmidt] b&w; French-language version

1932

La femme nue/The Nude Woman [Jean-Paul Paulin] b&w

1932

Perfect Understanding [Cyril Gardner] b&w; uncred cph; ph: Curt Courant

1933

Son autre amour/Dédé, son père et l'amour [Alfred Machard & Constant Rémy] b&w

1933

Pas besoin d'argent [Jean-Paul Paulin] b&w; French-language version of 'Man braucht kein Geld' (1931, Carl Boese; ph: Willy Goldberger)

1933

Mariage à responsabilité limitée [Jean de Limur] b&w; French-language version of 'Ehe m.b.H./Ehe mit beschränkter Haftung' (1931, Franz Wenzler; ph: Carl Drews)

1933

Le fakir du Grand Hôtel [Pierre Billon] b&w

1933

Les deux "Monsieur" de Madame [Abel Jacquin & Georges Pallu] b&w

1933

Coralie et Cie. [Alberto Cavalcanti] b&w

1933

L'abbé Constantin [Jean-Paul Paulin] b&w

1934

L'auberge du Petit Dragon [Jean de Limur] b&w

1934

Un homme en or/A Man and His Wife [Jean Dréville] b&w

1934

Napoléon Bonaparte [Abel Gance] b&w; ph new footage: Roger Hubert; re-edited & abridged version of 1926 film + soundtrack (140m)

1934

Le petit Jacques [Gaston Roudès] b&w

1934

Toboggan/Battling-Géo [Henri Decoin] b&w

1934

L'homme à l'oreille cassée [Robert Boudrioz] b&w

1935

Touche-à-tout [Jean Dréville] b&w

1935

La gondole aux chimères [Augusto Genina] b&w

1935

La gondola delle chimere [Augusto Genina] b&w; cph: Anchise Brizzi; Italian-language version of 'La gondole aux chimères'

1936

Hélène [Jean Benoît-Lévy & Marie Epstein] b&w

1936

Les petites alliées [Jean Dréville] b&w

1936

La dernière valse [Leo Mittler] b&w

1936

Mademoiselle ma mère [Henri Decoin] b&w

1937

Mirages/Mirages de Paris/Si tu m'aimes [Alexandre Ryder] b&w

1937

La mort du cygne/Ballerina [Jean Benoît-Lévy & Marie Epstein] b&w

1937

Les filles du Rhône [Jean-Paul Paulin] b&w

1937

Abus de confiance/Abused Confidence [Henri Decoin] b&w

1938

Retour à l'aube/She Returned at Dawn [Henri Decoin] b&w

1938

Carrefour/L'homme de la nuit/Crossroads [Kurt Bernhardt] b&w

1938

Éducation de prince/Bargekeepers Daughter [Alexander Esway] b&w

1939

L'homme du Niger/Forbidden Love [Jacques de Baroncelli] b&w

1939

Pour le maillot jaune [Jean Stelli] b&w; cph: Pierre Montazel & Roger Dormoy

1940

Vénus aveugle/Blind Venus [Abel Gance] b&w; 2uc (+ c.op): Henri Alekan

1941

Le club des soupirants/Nine Bachelors [Maurice Gleize] b&w

1941

Une femme dans la nuit [Edmond T. Gréville (started by Abel Gance)] b&w

1942

La belle aventure/Twilight [Marc Allégret] b&w

1942

Feu sacré [Maurice Cloche & Jean Choux] b&w

1942

Ne le criez pas sur les toits [Jacques Daniel-Norman] b&w

1943

Les mystères de Paris [Jacques de Baroncelli] b&w

1945

Étrange destin [Louis Cuny] b&w

1945

La route du bagne [Léon Mathot] b&w

1945

La colère des dieux [Carl Lamac] b&w

1946

Rocambole [Jacques de Baroncelli] b&w

1946

La revanche de Baccarat [Jacques de Baroncelli] b&w

1946

Le fugitif [Robert Bibal] b&w

1946

Pour une nuit d'amour [Edmond T. Gréville] b&w; uncred cph; ph: Jacques Lemare

1946

Dernier refuge [Marc Maurette] b&w; cph: Jean Bachelet

1947

Carrefour du crime [Jean Sacha] b&w

1948

Métier de fous [André Hunebelle] b&w

1948

Tous les deux [Louis Cuny] b&w

1948

Les casse-pieds/The Spice of Life [Jean Dréville] b&w

1948

Valse brillante [Jean Boyer] b&w

1948

Suzanne et ses brigands [Yves Ciampi] b&w

1948

Le mystère Barton [Charles Spaak] b&w

1949

La ronde des heures [Alexandre Ryder] b&w

1950

Journal d'un curé de campagne/Diary of a Country Priest [Robert Bresson] b&w

1950

Banco de prince [Michel Dulud] b&w

1950

Bille de clown [Jean Wall] b&w

1950

La vie chantée [Noël-Noël] b&w

1951

La vérité sur Bébé Donge/The Truth of Our Marriage [Henri Decoin] b&w

1951

La demoiselle et son revenant [Marc Allégret] b&w

1952

Mon gosse de père [Léon Mathot] b&w

1953

L'envers du paradis [Edmond T. Gréville] b&w; cph: Jacques Lemare

1953

Secrets d'alcove/Il letto/The Bed [seg 'Riviera-Express' dir by Ralph Habib] b&w; 4 seg; cph: Michel Kelber; other ph: Christian Matras (2 seg) & Enzo Serafin (1 seg)

1953

La route Napoléon [Jean Delannoy] b&w

1953

L'étrange désir de Monsieur Bard [Géza von Radványi] b&w

 

 

1954

Marianne de ma Jeunesse/Marianne of My Youth [Julien Duvivier] b&w; sfx ph: Eugen Schüfftan

1954

Marianne, meine Jugendliebe [Julien Duvivier] b&w; uncred cph: Georg Krause; sfx ph: Eugen Schüfftan; German-language version of 'Marianne de ma Jeunesse'

1955

La madone des sleepings [Henri Diamant-Berger] b&w

1955

Tant qu'il y aura des femmes [Edmond T. Gréville] b&w

1955

Toute la ville accuse/Les mille et un millions [Claude Boissol] b&w

1955

Bonjour sourire/Sourire aux lèvres [Claude Sautet] b&w

1955

Vous pigez?/Diamond Machine [Pierre Chevalier] b&w

1956

Mon curé chez les pauvres [Henri Diamant-Berger] b&w

1956

Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut/A Man Escaped [Robert Bresson] b&w

1956

Magirama [Abel Gance & Nelly Kaplan] ?; includes extracts from 'J'accuse!' (1918) and 'Napoléon' (1926)

1957

Les fanatiques/A Bomb for a Dictator/The Fanatics [Alex Joffé] b&w

1957

Quand sonnera midi [Edmond T. Gréville] b&w

1958

Cette nuit-là/Night Heat [Maurice Cazeneuve] b&w

 

 

1959

Pickpocket [Robert Bresson] b&w

1961

Un soir sur la plage [Michel Boisrond] b&w

1962

Procès de Jeanne d'Arc [Robert Bresson] b&w

1963

Un drôle de paroissien/Deo gratias/Heaven Sent/Light-Fingered George/Thank Heaven for Small Favors [Jean-Pierre Mocky] b&w-c

1963

Chair de poule/Highway Pick-Up [Julien Duvivier] b&w

1964

Dernier tiercé [Richard Pottier] b&w

1966

Les compagnons de la marguerite/Order of the Daisy [Jean-Pierre Mocky] b&w

1971

Bonaparte et la révolution [Abel Gance] b&w; 275m & (tv-version) 180m; ph new footage: Jean Collomb (?); reworking of 1926 & 1934 films

 

 FILMS AS DIRECTOR

1913

Les rapaces diurnes et nocturnes [short/?m]

1913

L'industrie du verre [doc/?m]

1913

La pousse des plantes [short/?m]

1913

La floraison [short/?m]

1922

La conquête des Gaules [co-d: Yan B. Dyl & Marcel Yonnet; + ph/small part] see Films

1929

L'évadée [co-d: Henri Ménessier] ph: ? Luttke & Jean Manoussi

1932

Le fada [short/53m]

 

NOTE: The following films are sometimes attributed to Burel, but he deleted them from a list submitted to him by the magazine 'Film Dope' in 1974:

1915

La folie du Docteur Tube/The Madness of Dr. Tube [Abel Gance] b&w; short/11m; ph: ?

1915

Le périscope [Abel Gance] b&w; ph: ?

1919

La terre [André Antoine] b&w; ph: René Gaveau & René Guichard

1928

Marines et cristaux [Abel Gance] triple-screen/b&w; doc/?m; ph: ?

1932

Boudu sauvé des eaux [Jean Renoir] b&w; ph: Marcel Lucien; Burel never worked with Renoir