Cinematographer – Christopher Doyle

A Cinematographer’s role is to translate the set, actors and story on to the screen. The cinematographer is a particularly important figure to the production designer. The two must work closely together with the director to achieve all the visuals for the film that all three are happy with. One cinematographer in particular is known for his energy, engaging work and enthusiasm.

Christopher Doyle is an Australian-born cinematographer who works predominately in Asia. He worked on the cinematography for Wong Kar-wai from 1990 to 2004. He is known for his use of saturated colours and dramatic lighting. His style of camera work is also very kinetic, as if the camera is chasing the characters. There is a level of curiosity in the movement that fits beautifully with Wong Kar-wai’s emotionally intense work.

Excerpt from The Guardian 17 July 2005

Doyle has always loved Asia; he read Japanese literature as a child. He loves the indirectness of Chinese, the fact that ‘yes’ means ‘maybe’, as he puts it, and that the colour green could be blue, black or green. It’s clear this has affected his work: he thinks of colour the way it’s thought of in Chinese medicine – ‘like in alchemy, colour is associated with some element’ – and believes that ‘colour has an emotional rhetoric’. He has nothing but contempt for the conventions such as blue light to designate moonlight. ‘Is there any blue light on this street?’ he asks. ‘Yeah, it’s coming from the cop’s car. You look up at night in this city; it’s all orange because of the incandescent lighting. That’s why you can’t see the stars. You ever been to Venice? The moonlight is green because it’s reflected off the canal.’


He is a fantastically interesting character whose Chinese name Du Ke Feng, which means ‘like the wind’, suits his energetic nature very well. Take a look at his interview for the Culture Show broadcast on the BBC on the 19 May 2005.

‘Cinematography is how a colour suggests a certain emotion. It certainly is about light on people’s faces.’

Feature films

One thought on “Cinematographer – Christopher Doyle

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