At the beginning of his career, Christian Matras quickly established a reputation as a solid technician and an expert in creating decorative and psychological ambiences which testify to his range of taste. During his career, he adapted to developing techniques, as well as to the demands of varied directors.
Using his early training as a newsreel photographer, Matras successfully applied the technique of plain observation to feature films in the ‘30s. His documentary style was put to good use in Renoir’s ‘La grande illusion’, a study of war. Renoir chose to tell his story of the dry rot of inaction, not on the battlefield, but behind the lines in a prison camp. It is a story of complex themes often revealed through camera movements.
This technique would typify Matras’ work prior to World War II. During this period, it was careful, painstakingly detailed, and intelligent, almost to the point of coldness. After World War II, his documentary style gave way to dazzling, flowing… read more