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Image Entertainment presents
Annie Leibovitz (1993)

"There are two kinds of celebrity that are involved in Annie Leibovitz's work; one is the celebrities she photographs and the other is her own celebrity."
- Willis Hartzhorn, deputy director, Int. Centre of Photography

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: October 05, 2001

Stars: Annie Leibovitz
Other Stars: Mick Jagger, Hunter S. Thompson, Jann Wenner, Demi Moore
Director: Rebecca Frayn

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:50m:54s
Release Date: August 07, 2001
UPC: 014381929829
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

"I was totally seduced by the darkroom." - Annie Leibovitz

They say a picture paints a thousand words. The photographer has the ability to capture moments in time in a way no other medium can. They allow us to study a precise moment, to see everything that happened at that very instant, in a way we could not perceive them in real time. Annie Leibovitz has made a name for herself as one of the highest profile, and highest paid, photographers in the world, and her abilities behind the camera have put her in a unique position of trust with many of the celebrities who sit for her. Her portraits have defined the styles of American pop culture since the 1970s, and she is one of the only living photographers honored by the International Centre of Photography by presenting a retrospective exhibition of her work, a showing that was the centre's most popular to that date.

This documentary takes a look at Leibovitz's work from her beginnings as a Rolling Stone Magazine contributor in the 1970s (which left her with a serious drug addiction), through her reemergence in the 1980s as Vanity Fair's chief photographer. Through interview footage with some of the people she has worked with, including her former editor at Rolling Stone, Jann Wenner, along with Mick Jagger and Hunter S. Thompson, the story of how she became who she is unfolds. Leibovitz also shares insight into her work and development as an artist, recounting some of the circumstances surrounding her most famous images, including the last portrait of John Lennon taken the day before his assassination. Home movies with her family tell the story of her childhood and her interest in the camera, taking us to the retrospective exhibition that would tour the world with the iconic images she has captured during her career.

We are also taken inside the world of Vanity Fair, where decisions on the covers are being made, and travel to Hawaii and Los Angeles to visit the shoot of one of Leibovitz's highest profile followup covers—the second Demi Moore nude to grace checkout stands around the world. Her first Demi Moore nude featured the star while she was pregnant, so ideas for a worthy successor are discussed, and the difficulties involved in production shooting. We see the process unfold onset, and with background footage shot during breaks from the work.

This documentary gives us a first-hand perspective of the life and history of one of the world's most celebrated living artists, from her beginnings as an anonymous assignment photographer to her modern day work as one of the most highly-sought creatives in her craft. Filmed in various locations from the back of taxi cabs, to her exhibition in Paris, to the offices of Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, the presentation is informal, and discussion is candid. Leibovitz tells how she came to fall in love with the camera, and how her work has evolved in the over twenty years she has been in the business.The collection of interviews add dimension to the world behind the lens and the people who live there.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Image quality varies based on the source material, which ranges greatly both in age and film stock. Grain is present most of the time, but is well-rendered, without any fake kind of quality. Colors and black levels look appropriate considering the sources and lighting conditions. Defects are present in some footage, but again these look source-related. Overall, this looks quite good for what it is.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Like the video, audio character depends on the nature of the source. In general, everything sounds natural, with the expected ambiences found from location recording. There is no brittleness or distortion to speak of, and musical accompanyment is fairly full range in presentation.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: A chapter menu with eight scene selections is the only feature.

Extras Grade: F


Final Comments

Annie Leibovitz takes an interesting look at the career of one of photography's foremost modern artists. Historical footage and insight from her friends, admirers and subjects take us behind the lens and let us understand the drive and motivation that underlies the creative talent of her work.


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