Anton Corbijn : Inside Out

This profile of photographer and director –his debut film Control won the prestigious Michael Powell award at EIFF in 2007- is probably the most intimate portrait of an elusive character we are ever likely to  get. Totally immersed in his work, the creation of original photos which his clients adore as it captures them as they would most like to be portrayed, it emerges he has little time for interpersonal relationships and his shyness does not make him an easy or typical interviewee. Despite this, director Klaartje Quirins manages to draw some insight out of him as regards the way he approaches his subject matter both in photography and film.

First registering in the public’s consciousness for his early work with the legendary Joy Division, Corbijn’s intimate photos of the band threw up many lasting iconic images which contributed to their myth. One particular image, in particular, captures perfectly the haunted despair of doomed singer Ian Curtis shortly before the pressure got to him and he took his own life. This was followed up by the posthumous video for ‘Atmosphere’ which acted as a metaphorically visual epitaph.

Following this successful partnership such luminaries as David Bowie, U2, Depeche Mode, Elvis Costello, John Lydon and more recently Arcade Fire enlisted his services in creating images for them. Bono waxes lyrical-as is his wont-on how Corbijn manages to capture and reflect light and somehow simultaneously has both humour and melancholia running through his work. Even professional curmudgeon Lou Reed shows something akin to pleasure when first handed the prints Corbijn took for his recent collaboration with Metallica.

It is the scenes with his family which reveal the most however. His sister explains how the family worry he is burning himself out by never standing still and always chasing the next project with scant regard for his health or any calm in his lifestyle. It is a strange dichotomy though as the man who is positioned at the centre of this maelstrom of creativity seems totally at peace and resolute with no sign of the frantic lifestyle he has created for himself.

Perhaps one of the more telling scenes is when he reveals his self portraits of him as famous rock stars. Janis Joplin, The Beatles and Kurt Cobain are all treated to his interpretation and it is perhaps his ability-and perhaps desires to be a rock star himself- to capture their iconic looks which allow him to create such empathetic images for others.

When it comes to film his debut, Control, was about the fated Ian Curtis and became a highly critically and commercial success. The follow up The American featuring George Clooney was less well received but this was probably more down to an uninspired and implausible script as it was still visually arresting and beautifully filmed.

Anton Corbijn : Inside Out is a very worthwhile document of an exceptional and inspiring talent who has helped many major bands realise their visual ambitions. He is a quiet and unassuming character who although reticent and shunning any publicity somehow always manages to have a strong and extremely identifiable presence in the works he creates.

Anton Corbijn:Inside Out is showing at Cineworld on Thursday 28th June at 6.30pm and Friday June 29th at 8.40pm

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