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Christopher Doyle Calls 'Life Of Pi' A "Fucking Insult To Cinematography," Hates On 'Lincoln' & More

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist March 14, 2013 at 10:21AM

While high-profile Oscar contenders like Best Picture winner "Argo," "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Django Unchained" all had various amounts of haterade poured all over them, one movie that was pretty much untouchable all season long was "Life Of Pi." Outside of the whole mini VFX controversy thing -- which really only happened after the Oscars -- Ang Lee and his film were embraced by the industry, winning four statuettes for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Score and Best Visual Effects. But certainly, not everyone was taken with the movie.
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Life Of Pi Christopher Doyle

While high-profile Oscar contenders like Best Picture winner "Argo," "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Django Unchained" all had various amounts of haterade poured all over them, one movie that was pretty much untouchable all season long was "Life Of Pi." Outside of the whole mini VFX controversy thing -- which really only happened after the Oscars -- Ang Lee and his film were embraced by the industry, winning four statuettes for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Score and Best Visual Effects. But certainly, not everyone was taken with the movie.

The usually opinionated and salty cinematographer Christopher Doyle recently sat down with Blouin and made his feelings quite clear on "Life Of Pi" and the work behind it. "Okay. I’m trying to work out how to say this most politely, and no offense to – I don’t know him personally – but what a total fucking piece of shit," he declared about Claudio Miranda's win for Best Cinematography. "Let me be blunt. Ah, fuck. I don’t care, I’m sure he’s a wonderful guy and I’m sure he cares so much, but since 97 per cent of the film is not under his control, what the fuck are you talking about cinematography, sorry. I’m sorry. I have to be blunt and I don’t care, you can write it. I think it’s a fucking insult to cinematography."

But his anger seems more to be at the voting body ("Do you know the average age of the people who vote? Sixty-five. Check it out.") and the idea of anyone outside the cinematographer working on the look of the movie. “Of course they have no fucking idea what cinematography is.The lunatics have taken over the asylum, but you know we have other asylums in other parts of the world and I live in one of  them, and I intend to continue to be a lunatic," he (kind of) explained. "...The award is given to the technicians, to the producers, it’s not to the cinematographer. I think he should’ve actually, if it were me, I would’ve said fuck off. But of course it’s his career. Sorry. Personally, as you probably realised, I will say fuck off. If somebody manipulated my image that much, I wouldn’t even turn up. Because sorry, cinematography? Really?”

So, from his perspective, was it weird for "Life Of Pi" to win Best Cinematography? “No it’s not a strange choice if you understand how fucked up people are and how lost they are. You bail out your bankers, support your rich people, you say Spielberg and Tarantino are the gods of cinema. Hey, good luck.” Um, okay.

But his vitriol on Oscar contenders didn't stop there. “ 'Lincoln'! Oh! Let’s talk about patriotism. Do you not fucking realise the rest of the world just sits back laughing. Do you not realise that you poor old fuckers with your Academy bullshit, you’re just sitting back, holding onto straws. You’re holding onto straws. Let’s get on with it. I don’t give a fuck what you think about me," he said. "Some of us have to engage with the real world. And it happens not to be about the history of Mr. Lincoln freeing the slaves – which was the most disgusting first three minutes of a film I’ve ever seen. 'Oh, Mr Lincoln, oh, but you understand…' stop fucking fluffing yourselves."

However, Doyle is not a total crank and his admiration and inspiration comes from unlikely corners. “Ai Weiwei is the Tom Hanks of Chinese cinema,” he enthused. “Ai Weiwei is so fucking beautiful on film because he’s so solid, he doesn’t give a shit. He is the great male star of the future of Chinese cinema. Please quote me. He’s the George Clooney of the new wave. Once he sees [the footage] he’ll either burn everything we ever shot or he’ll embrace it.”

And he looks to the young generation to push the medium forward. “So many people ask me very often, so, how do you engage with the digital medium. I say the kids are going to teach us. We’re the students," he says. "The people who are on YouTube or engaging 24 hours of almost every day of their lives, who are online and having visual digital experiences every day, they’re the ones who are going to teach us.”

As for how he'll wrap up his own career? “I know I will die with either a camera in hand or a woman on top – what more could one ask of life?” How zen. [via Film]


This article is related to: Christopher Doyle, Life Of Pi, Lincoln


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