Anthony Dod Mantle — it is time

Posted by · 11:47 am · November 9th, 2008

Anthony Dod MantleI don’t generally throw myself full force behind a contender with the kind of FYC spirit I’m about to project.  We all have our favorites and we all hope this person or that will finally get the recognition deserved, but it’s a different thing to full on advocate.  But today, I just can’t help myself.

Watching “Slumdog Millionaire” a second time Friday night as part of the AFI Danny Boyle tribute, I was taken once again by the urgent nature of the film’s visual style.  It’s a direct reflection of Boyle’s energetic attitude toward life and the cinema, of course.  But it’s also the result of wonderful creativity from cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle.

Boyle says he first took notice of Mantle’s work on the Dogme classic “Festen.”  The two first collaborated on television’s “Strumpet” before moving into daring digital territory with the modern zombie classic “28 Days Later,” and then Mantle moved back to his Dogme roots, taking on projects for Thomas Vinterberg and Lars von Trier with a little Boyle thrown in between (2004’s “Millions”).

I never much responded to the supposed revelation that was Dogme, so Mantle first caught my eye with “28 Days Later” and especially with Kevin Macdonald’s “The Last King of Scotland,” where I suddenly felt the earth move under the weight of a new talent’s insistence on a refreshingly vigorous intimacy with his photography.

Much like Harris Savides, Cesar Charlone or Rodrigo Prieto, Mantle is finding himself moving in and out of the independent market with eye-popping work that can go unnoticed in the wake of the postcard photography that tends to be singled out during the awards season.  But his work is alive, crackling with immediacy and actively creative in the service of story, never more so than in “Slumdog Millionaire,” Boyle’s latest vibrant contribution to the silver screen.

The time has come for Mantle to be recognized for the innovation he lends not only this film, but the trade itself.  I fully expect “Slumdog” to find a home in numerous categories, but if I could insist consideration of just one aspect of its elaborate below-the-line construction, it would be for Mantle’s contribution.  What fierce life he has captured here.

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10 responses so far

  • 1 11-09-2008 at 4:07 pm

    Speaking English said...

    I’ll be seeing the film this week, but already from the trailer I can tell the cinematography is stunning. I think it’s a huge, huge bet for a nomination, and right now I’d totally predict it alongside Button, Road, Milk, and Australia.

  • 2 11-09-2008 at 4:10 pm

    Ryan said...

    Agreed 100%. My favorite cinematographic effort of the year so far. Harrowing, energetic, moody, and brilliant.

  • 3 11-09-2008 at 4:11 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    I’d hardly call it a “huge bet,” though I agree with Kris that Mantle is due for some recognition.

    Speaking English: No “Dark Knight” for cinematography?

  • 4 11-09-2008 at 4:13 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    I should clarify: when I say I don’t think it’s a “huge bet,” I mean that I’m not sure the work is to the Academy’s taste — I personally think it’s totally deserving.

  • 5 11-09-2008 at 5:42 pm

    Speaking English said...

    I’ve voiced my opinion on “The Dark Knight”‘s cinematography before, and while I find it wholly unimpressive and undeserving of a nomination, I’d have to admit the Academy may very well embrace it. At this point, however, I’m not ready to predict it alongside what seems like bigger heavy-weights in the category.

  • 6 11-09-2008 at 5:51 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...


    At your own risk. TDK is 100% locked in.

  • 7 11-09-2008 at 8:49 pm

    Joe Reid said...

    I’ve long thought that Mantle’s work on “28 Days Later” was one of the most underrated technical achievements of the past decade. Great call, Kris.

  • 8 11-10-2008 at 9:07 am

    nick said...

    TDK is definitely in there for best cinematography; Pfister has been nommed twice before (Batman Begins and The Prestige).

    Here’s a cinematography question. In the NYT Holiday Movie section, there was a one-page ad for The Rearder, that listed BOTH Chris Menges and Roger Deakins as directors of photography on the film. The IMDB only has Menges listed, and I have read interviews/articles with Daldry where he’s made reference to the work that Menges was doing, never mentioning Deakins.

    What’s the deal? A typo on the part of The NYT or the people creating the ad art for The Reader? Or did Deakins do uncredited work on the film but for some reason still gets print credit in the ads?

  • 9 11-15-2008 at 1:02 pm

    steamfreshmeals said...

    Is the weekend box office a “good”, “solid”, “great”, “too early to tell” result for “Slumdog Millionaire which has been given a Best Picture and Director nom by the industry? Did it perform outside of NY & LA? Based on ten screens i assume maybe SF and Toronto opened as well. I know Searchlight is going slow, protecting their spends, and waiting for the award recognition to roll in.