“It is impossible to express the beauty [of the camera obscura image] in words…

*…The art of painting is dead, for this is life itself: or something higher, if we could find a word for it.” — Constantijn Huygens, private letter April 13, 1622.

Shown: Camera Obscura, Edinburgh. A camera obscura (from Latin camera obscūra, “dark chamber”) is a darkened room with a small hole or lens at one side through which an image is projected onto the wall opposite the hole. Peter Bradshaw, reviewing in December 2017 “A Matter of Life and Death” (1946): “Frank likes nothing more than to keep the village under benign surveillance with his camera obscura device, evidently kept on a high rotating turret, which gives him live pictures of everything that’s happening in the village.”

From: Camera Lucida (La Chambre Claire) (1980) by Roland Barthes:

It is a mistake to associate Photography, by reason of its technical origins, with the notion of a dark passage (camera obscura). It is camera lucida that we should say (such was the name of that apparatus, anterior to Photography, which permitted drawing an object through a prism, one eye on the model, the other on the paper); for, from the eye’s viewpoint, “the essence of the image is to be altogether outside, without intimacy, and yet more inaccessible and mysterious than the thought of the innermost being; without signification, yet summoning up the depth of any possible meaning; unrevealed yet manifest, having that absence-as-presence which constitutes the lure and the fascination of the Sirens” (Blanchot).”

Roger Ebert, on April 21 1995, reviewed “Stairway To Heaven” (A Matter Of Life And Death) on his website:

“…The British title of this film was “A Matter of Life and Death,” and when the Americans retitled it “Stairway to Heaven,” (Michael) Powell wrote in his autobiography, he felt they had missed the point. But “Stairway to Heaven” may be a more expressive title, and certainly there is a stairway in the film, part of the incredible contribution of production designer Alfred Junge, who also provides one of the most spectacular shots in movie history, a view of heaven’s underside: Vast holes in the sky with tiny people peering down over the edges…

…Today’s movies are infatuated with special effects, but often they’re used to create the sight of things we can easily imagine: crashes, explosions, battles in space. The special effects in “Stairway to Heaven” show a universe that never existed until this movie was made, and the vision is breathtaking in its originality…”

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