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Cinematographer Calls ‘Life of Pi’ Oscar Win “A Total F—ing Piece of S—”

Life of Pi
20th Century Fox

Life of Pi‘ won the 2013 Oscar for Best Cinematography with director of photography Claudio Miranda taking home the Academy Award for his work. The win was mildly controversial since a) Roger Deakins was again denied an Oscar for his beautiful work on ‘Skyfall‘ and b) ‘Life of Pi’ was largely constructed in the digital space (the film also took home the Best Visual Effects Oscar). Any existing debate over the ‘Life of Pi’ win took a big leap forward this morning when veteran cinematographer Christopher Doyle spoke out against the Oscar saying, “it’s a f—ing insult to cinematography.” And he was only getting started…

Though the majority of Christopher Doyle’s work over the years has been with Asian directors (he’s shot the majority of Wong Kar Wai’s films) he’s never worked with Ang Lee and even admits to not knowing him personally. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a strong opinion on his films. Doyle spoke with Blouin News in anticipation of an appearance at the Beijing and Shanghai Film Festivals and when asked about the ‘Life of Pi’ win, he certainly didn’t mince words:

I’m trying to work out how to say this most politely, and no offense to – I don’t know [Ang Lee] personally – but what a total f—ing piece of s—. Let me be blunt….What the fuck are you talking about cinematography, sorry. I’m sorry….I think it’s a f—ing insult to cinematography.

I’m sure he’s a wonderful person, I’m sure he cares so much. But what it says to the real world is it’s all about us, we have the money, we put the money in, and we control the image. And I say f— you, wankers. Are you f—ing kidding? That’s not cinematography…You’ve lost cinema. This is not cinema and it’s not cinematography. It’s not cinematography.

In summation: it’s not cinematography.

As strongly worded as his rant may be, Doyle brings up a good point when he argues that the Oscar for Best Cinematography shouldn’t be awarded to a film that is a “totally digitized image.” But then he curiously subverts his entire argument by saying, “I may be wrong, because I haven’t seen the film.”

We reached out to Ang Lee for a response but have not yet heard back.

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