You’ve probably seen a lot of camera commercials in your life, but you’ve probably never seen one like this. It’s a minute-and-a-half art film that’s at once enticing, exciting, sexy, and sentimental. It was made to promote Leica’s new black-and-white only model, the digital M-Monochrom, and it recently won five awards at the Cannes Lions Film Festival. These include a Golden Lion in cinematography, a Silver Lion for direction and two Bronze Lions for editing and art direction. These are in addition to the 12 international awards it had previously received:
The photographer referred to in the video was Robert Capa, a Hungarian combat photojournalist who covered World War II and the Spanish Civil War, among others. He was a co-founder of Magnum Photos – the infamous association of the world’s greatest photographers – along with Henri Cartier-Bresson and others.
Although many details of his life are true (he did indeed die from stepping on a landmine), some Capa advocates argue that the film contains historical inaccuracies or rumors; they claim that he stopped using his Leica in Spain, and was using a Contax and a Nikon at the time of his death during the First Indochina War.
Nonetheless, the film is a beautiful achievement in its own right. It is narrated by Capa’s old Leica III, and uses low camera angles, sporadic focus, and hectic shots to give the perspective of a lens slung around his neck. It tells (a version of) the story of Capa’s life through stark, gritty, and evocative images which give a palpable sense of passion and of tragedy.
It was created specially for the opening of the new Leica store in São Paulo, Brazil. Its production was actually not associated with the Leica Camera company at all, and was made independently by Felipe Vellasco of Sentimental Filmes and FNazca / Saatchi & Saatchi (both sites in Portugese). Its title, “Alma”, translates from Portugese (and Spanish, too) as “Soul”.
In case you’re unfamiliar, Leica is a legendary German manufacturer that is considered the cream of the crop as far as camera production goes. They have been known for their optical superiority and exceptional build quality since they introduced the world’s first practical 35mm camera in 1924.
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