Wrap Shot: Nixon

Looking back at this 1995 creative collaboration between Robert Richardson, ASC and director Oliver Stone.

David E. Williams

The 1995 drama Nixon, photographed by Robert Richardson, ASC and directed by Oliver Stone (pictured here, from left), is a biography as compelling and challenging as its subject.

“What links all my films,” Stone told American Cinematographer, “is the story of an individual in a struggle with his identity, his integrity and his soul. In many of these movies, the character’s soul is stolen from him, lost, and in some cases he gets it back in the end. I believe the highest ethic is the Socratic one, which says, ‘Know thyself.’”

As Stone consults his script, Richardson (back to us) frames up on actors Anthony Hopkins and James Woods.

As on their previous projects — including JFK, Born on the Fourth of July and Natural Born Killers — Richardson employed all manner of cameras, film and video formats and lab techniques to form the jigsaw visual fabric of Nixon, including the handcranked Bell & Howell 2709 35mm unit unit seen in the photograph at top.

“It was one of the old Charlie Chaplin cameras,” Richardson told AC. “It gives you a flicker, a kind of pulse, which is an important part of those cameras if you know how to use it properly.”

Richardson has won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography three times, for his work on JFK (1991), The Aviator (2004), and Hugo (2011). He is one of three living persons who won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography three times, the others being Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC and Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC.

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