Remembering - Marcus Bartley
But who remembers the man who did bulk of the camerawork for the movie including the famous sea scene picturing the epic struggle of Satyan with a shark in the swirling waters? It was a certain genius named Marcus Bartley. For all these years I thought he was a German who strayed into
He did only one more Malayalam film after Chemmen, titled ‘Mamangam’ in 1979. Raam Aur Shyam, Saathi, Yehi hai zindagi and Zindagi Jeene ke Liye are his Hindi films. ‘Chemeen’ incidentally used a technicolour format. The cinematography was considered outstanding, especially the shots of the sea, providing the audience with a wide angle feeling about the fishing community of the story. Close up’s of characters were resorted to as and when required.
Bartley was born in 1917 and was the recipient of the gold medal at the International Film Festival held at
Ambu Rao, his protégé, says “To me calling Bartley as my guru is causing disrespect to him, the word `guru' is too small to address that man. He has a towering influence over me and what I am today is merely because of him. In those days his young mind was brimming with creative ideas and Bartley allowed Ambu to experiment with a free hand. Bartley skillfully kindled this enthusiasm, though he was harsh at times. It was an experience that I would cherish till my end." Bartley not only taught Ambu the finer points of photography but also played a very important role in shaping his individuality.
"One day as I was standing near the dollies during the shoot of a very important scene of `Maya Bazaar', the director K. V. Reddy pointed at me and asked Bartley: `who is this novice, tell him to go, this is a very important scene'. Bartley replied: `he is my assistant and it's my look-out'. He later scolded me and gave me a through dressing down on body language." Another nice article on Ambu Rao’s recollections about Bartley.
Following from the review of the movie PathalaBhairavi- Marcus Bartley was arguably the greatest cinematographer of those times. Almost all the superhits of those times were made with his hand at the camera. His specialty was the shots under the moonlight. In those days, a circle was drawn on a screen and the screen was lit to make it look like a moon. With this on the background, one cannot have other lights there. In spite of this difficulty, all the characters in such scenes had their shadows away from the moon. Apart from this, many of the transformations of elements in this movie were shown using Fade-In and Fade-Out techniques giving it a much better look and feel than the latest digital morphing which uses high technology computers. Marcus Bartley made this possible with his innovative ideas.
Adoor Gopalakrishnan, the famous film maker says - Chemmeen, Yes, the film made by Ramu Kariat in 1965 was the first Malayalam film to win the President's Gold Medal. It was an important film in many ways. It was a color film; in fact a very colorful film with impeccable photography by Marcus Bartley.
Maya bazaar - The first cinematic Maya Bazar was made in 1936 in Telugu based on the play. Later 16 films were made with the same title in different languages but K.V. Reddy's production stood out. Though there were efforts to convert this film into color, using latest technology, the idea was dropped as the legatees of the film makers feared that original charm of black and photography of Marcus Bartley would be lost. He simply created magic on screen with his imaginative photography. Full of special effects, camera tricks by the famous camera man Marcus Bartley, this movie produced 50 years ago is a visual feast!
Passionforcinema has this to add - Marcus Bartley was the top camera man those days (his work for Mayabazaar is legendary). As per the protocol adhered to by KV’s crew, only Marcus and KV will get a chance to see through the camera lens. Right from the moment he started working on the sets of Mayabazaar, Rao always wanted to see through the lens - at least once.
One fine day he gathered courage and approached KV. KV gave Ambu Rao one glance and gave a shout to Bartley. Bartley looked back and beckoned the young man. Rao ran towards the camera only to hear Bartley say “WAIT!”. He was scared by the tall giant of a man and stood still. Bartley summoned a spot boy to get a high chair. Rao was a short guy and the camera was set high - in position. Hence the high chair. Bartley then he called the lights on and Rao had his first look through the lens eye.
What was it like? Let’s hear from the man (rao) himself - “When I saw through the lens, my lifelong wish was fulfilled. It is the memorable moment of my life. It is the best moment of my life. It is the greatest moment of my life. I am blessed to see Bartley’s vision through his lens. Believe it or not, till date I have never seen the same lighting feel again. I pointed out the same to camera man Kabir during the making of Bhairawa Dweepam.”
Marcus Bartley shot brilliant movies with the legendary Mitchell Camera. The Mitchell camera was originally developed by Leonard in 1917 who sold its designs to George Mitchell. The Mitchell standard went on to remain for many decades, no camera has ever been so well equipped for special effects work; it was another reason for the Mitchell's immediate popularity. 85% of all
Pics – Thanks to ‘The Hindu’