Angel Heart (1987) / Michael Seresin, BSC

Episode #63

Angel Heart (1987) / Michael Seresin, BSC


Michael Seresin, BSC connects with AC via Skype to revisit his work on Alan Parker’s Angel Heart, a dark, atmospheric thriller that has gained iconic status in cinematography circles since its theatrical release in 1987. 

Sharing several anecdotes about the shoot, Seresin reveals how an early wardrobe test for lead actor Mickey Rourke became one of the film’s signature images, how he captured one of Robert De Niro’s most memorable scenes, and how he approached the infamous, blood-drenched sex scene that leads to the story’s denouement.

  • Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) records an update to his case file on Johnny Favorite.
  • A mysterious figure descends to points unknown in one of the film’s recurring visual motifs.
  • Louis Cypher (Robert De Niro, right) pays Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) a surprise visit in New Orleans.
  • Private detective Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke, right) treks to Coney Island to track down information on a missing person.
  • Director Alan Parker (left) works out a setup with cinematographer Michael Seresin, BSC (next to Parker), and camera operator Mike Roberts. Standing in front of the camera is 1st AC Eamon O’Keefe.
  • Director Alan Parker (left) and cinematographer Michael Seresin, BSC, at work on location.
  • Director Alan Parker (left) and cinematographer Michael Seresin, BSC, on location in New York. Partially visible behind Seresin is camera operator Mike Roberts. The crewmember behind Parker could not be identified.

About the Project
Set in 1955, Angel Heart follows private detective Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) as he attempts to track down a missing person for an eccentric client, Louis Cypher (Robert De Niro). Angel’s search takes him from wintry New York to sultry New Orleans, and as bodies start piling up in his wake, he grows increasingly concerned for his own safety. His search finally comes to a shocking conclusion.

About the Cinematographer
New Zealand native Michael Seresin has filmed many motion pictures for director Alan Parker, beginning in 1976 with the unconventional gangster movie Bugsy Malone, in which child actors portrayed adult characters. Their collaborations also include Midnight Express, Fame, Birdy and Angela’s Ashes. Most recently, Seresin shot the 3-D feature Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and he contributed extensive additional photography to the sci-fi adventure Gravity, which won ASC and Academy awards last year.

American Cinematographer interviews cinematographers, directors and other filmmakers to take you behind the scenes on major studio movies, independent films and popular television series.

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