#3: "The Truman Show" [1996]





Born: 8 August 1944 [or 1943], Wales, UK, as son of asst dir & ph Leon Bijou [1914-?].

Career: Ph numerous commercials dir by Frank Budgen [for Guinness], Martha Fiennes, a.o.

Awards: Cannes FF 'Best Artistic Contribution' [1984] for 'Another Country'; 'Oscar' AA [1988], BSC Award [1989], BAFTA Film Award [1989] & ASC Award nom [1989] for 'Mississippi Burning'; BSC Award nom [1994] for 'The Road to Wellville'; BSC Award nom [1995] & Camerimage 'Golden Frog' nom [1996] for 'Richard III'; BAFTA Film Award nom [1999] & BSC Award nom [1999] for 'The Truman Show'.

Peter Biziou has quietly built a solid reputation as one of the finest cinematographers of his generation that Britain has produced. Of Welsh extraction, he began his career building models, graduated to lighting commercials, and began his career behind the camera with his friend and long time collaborator, director Alan Parker. His journeyman years spent making commercials have heavily influenced his style without inhibiting his creativity: in making Peter Weir's The Truman Show' he relied on that 'unreal' look to create an insular world lit by too-brilliant sunlight: as Weir put it, 'I was taken with the way Peter uses light, his choice of lenses and his overall look. I loved his work with directors Alan Parker and Jim Sheridan. He takes chances, yet one always sees what one needs to see. I also knew that Peter is selective and only takes on films to which he feels he can offer something unique.' 'The Truman Show' itself is a showcase for the cinematographer's art: when the director Christof [Ed Harris] says abruptly, 'Cue the sun' and a fireball shoots up in response [a stunning effect requiring Biziou's strategy and elaborate digital enhancement] or the vignettes that alert the viewer to the presence of the many spying cameras recording Truman Burbank's life. To give 'a more obvious, menacing feel,' Biziou used gobos [*] placed in front of the lens and explored the use of wide angle lenses often used in commercials, as well as all the ingenious 'Truman-cams.' His ability to translate Weir's wish for a hyper-real, light-soaked Norman Rockwell world is in keeping with his reputation as an inventive, intuitive artisan who compliments and completes a director's vision.

Director Adrian Lyne praised Biziou's ability to deliver the exact look he wanted - an expensive, lush 1980s style eroticism that again hearkened back to the desired style of commercials - for his controversial 'Nine½ Weeks'. The visual style of that film is what audiences responded to more than Lyne's typically juiced-up script, and which complimented leading lady Kim Basinger.

Peter Biziou finally received critical acclaim for his work in 'Another Country', the high-toned public school saga of spy Guy Burgess. He went for a look of 'slightly sour sunlight' to suggest the oppressive nature of the place, and for this film he was awarded 'Best Artistic Contribution' at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival. Admitted to the ranks of the British Cinematographer's Society, Biziou began to receive assignments more worthy of his talents.

Biziou is as well known for his collegiality as his professional acumen: in an interview with American Cinematographer he was careful to credit everyone who helped achieve the astonishing look of 'The Truman Show' and was generous with his praise. As a cinematographer, Peter Biziou has made good films exceptional and memorable, and his art has rescued many others: his body of work shows an artist of remarkable talent and sensitivity. [From article by Mary Hess.]


* A gobo, derived from 'Go Between', 'GO BlackOut' or 'Goes Before Optics', originally used on film sets, is a physical template slotted inside, or placed in front of, a lighting source, used to control the shape of emitted light. [Wikipedia]



Fragment [Norman J. Warren] b&w; short/10m; int ph; ph: Mick Messenger


Mini-Midi: Hier, aujourd'hui, demain/World of Fashion [Robert Freeman] c; doc/23m


Secret World/La promesse/L'échelle blanche [Robert Freeman & Paul Feyder] c


Festival Express [Frank Cvitanovich (1970) & Bob Smeaton (2002)] c; mus doc/90m; cph: Bob Fiore & (2002-03) Steven Hall; the June 1970 film (46 hours of footage) was unfinished due to the bankruptcy of the prod company; finished in 2002 and released in 2003


Our Cissy [Alan Parker] c; short/31m


Footsteps [Alan Parker] c; short/33m


Janis [Howard Alk & Seaton Findlay] b&w-c; mus doc/97m; cph Canadian seq (1970); ph Woodstock seq (1969): Michael Wadleigh, Don Lenzer, Richard Pearce, Chuck Levey, Al Wertheimer, Richard Chew & Ted Churchill; ph 'Monterey Pop' seq (1967): Jim Desmond, Nick Proferes, Albert Maysles, D.A. Pennebaker & Richard Leacock; ph European seq: W.P. Hassenstein; ph opening seq (Janis Joplin's car): Paul Goldsmith


Bugsy Malone [Alan Parker] c; shot first two weeks; cph (finished film): Michael Seresin


Short Ends [Esther Anderson] c; short/30m


Monty Python's Life of Brian [Terry Jones] c


Stretch Hunter [Horace Ové] p/c; short/25m


Time Bandits [Terry Gilliam] c; model ph: Julian Doyle


Pink Floyd The Wall [Alan Parker (live action) & Gerald Scarfe (animation)] c; anim ph: Chris King; see Michael Seresin


The Bloody Chamber [Nick Lewin] c; short/29m


Another Country [Marek Kanievska] c


Nine½ Weeks [Adrian Lyne] c


A World Apart [Chris Menges] c


[Right] with Alan Parker - "Mississippi Burning"

Photo Orion Pictures [David Appleby]



Mississippi Burning [Alan Parker] c


Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead [Tom Stoppard] c


City of Joy/La cité de la joie [Roland Joffé] c


Damage/Fatale [Louis Malle] c


In the Name of the Father [Jim Sheridan] c


The Road to Wellville [Alan Parker] c


Richard III [Richard Loncraine] s35/c


The Truman Show [Peter Weir] c; Wescam ph: David Norris & John Trapman


Unfaithful [Adrian Lyne] c; 2uc: Richard Rutkowski; remake of 'La femme infidèle' (1968, Claude Chabrol; ph: Jean Rabier)


Ladies in Lavender [Charles Dance] c; addph: Ed Rutherford


[Right] with dir Mikael Håfström - "Derailed"



Derailed [Mikael Håfström] s35/c; vfx ph (+ 2uc UK): Peter Hannan




The Touchables/Love Generation [Robert Freeman] 1st c.asst; ph: Alan Pudney