Orson Welles’ The Immortal Story / Willy Kurant, ASC, AFC, Episode #3

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Denis Lenoir, ASC, AFC, interviews Willy Kurant, ASC, AFC, about his work on Orson Welles’ 1969 production for French television, Une Historie Immortelle (The Immortal Story).

Denis Lenoir, ASC, AFC
Denis Lenoir, ASC, AFC

Lenoir won an ASC Award for Uprising and a Bronze Frog from the Camerimage International Film Festival of Cinematography for Demonlover. His credits include Monsieur Hire, Carrington, The Secret Agent, Fin août, début septembre, Boomtown (pilot) and The Clearing.

Kurant began his career shooting television news film and documentaries. He was on the leading edge of the New Wave in France. His body of work includes some 60 narrative films, including Masculin Feminin, The Immortal Story, The Night of the Following Day, Je t’aime, moi non plus, Sous le soleil de Satan, Trans-Europ-Express, Le DepartChina Moon, A Business Affair, Delivering Milo, Pootie Tang and White Man’s Burden.

Willy Kurant, ASC, AFC
Willy Kurant, ASC, AFC

The Immortal Story (Un Histoire Immortelle)

Written by Welles, based on a story by Isak Dinesen. Photographed by Willy Kurant. With Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Roger Coggio, Norman Ashley.

Immortal Story was directed by Orson Welles, who also stars as a fabulously wealthy, but bitter and dictatorial, European merchant. Soured on life, Mr. Clay (Welles) decides to play games with the lives of others. He decides to make the “immortal” legend of a sailor seducing a rich man’s wife come true and even picks the sailor (Roger Coggio) himself. Through Mr. Clay’s machinations, the sailor beds a beautiful younger woman (Jeanne Moreau) whom Clay pays to pose as his own wife. There’s little more to the story than that, but Welles weaves his short tale with an economy and expertise which proves he hadn’t lost his touch by 1969.

Based on a story by Isak Dinesen, The Immortal Story was originally made for French television; it was also the only Orson Welles-directed film to be released in color.

— Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Photos by Douglas Kirkland, courtesy of Kodak.

 

 

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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