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A Beginner’s Guide to the Cinematography of Darius Khondji

When the likes of David Fincher, James Gray, and Bong Joon Ho want to work with you … you’re doing something right.
Darius Khonji Cinematography
By  · Published on May 1st, 2023

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores the style and cinematography of Darius Khondji.

Michael Haneke, David Fincher, James Gray, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Bong Joon Ho. No, it’s not Monica Belluci aggressively pronouncing directors’ names at Cannes 2017: it’s a list of some of the incredible directors who have worked with Iranian-French cinematographer Darius Khondji.

Why do so many big-name creatives keep collaborating with Khondji? Well, if you’ve seen any of his work (and you probably have), you’ll know that he is easily one of the best working DPs in the film industry. And while it’s true that, like the best folks in his field, Khondji’s work varies considerably depending on who he’s working with, it’s worth the time to get to know what distinguishes him as a cinematographer.

One key hallmark of Khondji’s is a preference for working with film over digital (which allows for more extreme exposure and more expressionistic approaches to lighting). Speaking of lighting, Khondji also tends to favor light sources that are both routed in reality and heighten the thematic thrust of a scene (think: the under-lighting in Howie’s jewel shop in Uncut Gems). Another surefire way to spot Khondji’s work is the presence of contrasting green and gold hues (most boldly deployed in Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s The City of Lost Children).

Khondji has enjoyed a massively varied and compelling career. And if you’re a film fan, his is a name well worth knowing.

Watch “Darius Khondji — Cinematography Techniques”

Who made this?

This video essay on the cinematography and style of director of photography Darius Khondji is created by StudioBinder. This production management software creator also happens to produce wildly informative video essays. They tend to focus on the mechanics of filmmaking itself, from staging to pitches and directorial techniques. You can check out their YouTube account here.

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Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.