Warner Bros. // 2008 // 83 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // October 28th, 2008
Life through a lens.
Annie Leibovitz is probably one of the most famous photographers in history. Even if you aren't aware of her name, you would likely recognize a number of her images, such the shot of John Lennon and Yoko Ono and the infamous pregnancy pictures of Demi Moore. This film documents her growth as a photographer and a person. It tracks her victories and struggles through her time at Rolling Stone and Vogue.
Filmed by Leibovitz's sister, the documentary does an good job of balancing her personal and professional lives. The real focus is on her career, and it includes a number of interviews with the subjects that she has shot. Throughout these interviews, one concept stands out: Leibovitz has a unique ability to blend in and disappear, so that by the time she's taking pictures, she captures something genuine and true. She has taken a number of photographs that few other photographers would have the opportunity to get, let alone the skill. Every one of the subjects talks about her with warmth and respect, and most celebrities will go out of their way to work with her.
We get to see a number of the pictures as well, of course, though there's only so much detail a DVD can deliver when it comes to still images. Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens doesn't do as much justice to the photographs as it does for her career.
Considering the personal nature of the documentary, there are also many gaps in the story of Leibovitz's life. There is some talk about her drug problems while she is at Rolling Stone, but she doesn't talk much about it. We also don't see that much about her relationship with Susan Sontag, considering how crucial it was to her life. That said, I really respect that the production team didn't make a big deal about Leibovitz's sexual orientation. So often, that becomes a central issue in any story about homosexuals, and the fact that we've moved past that is a benefit to the production.
The DVD has also been well-produced. While much of the interview footage is in widescreen, the film itself is presented in a full frame aspect ratio, and looks just fine that way. The sound is solid as well, delivering clear dialogue in the interviews as well as the footage from the photo shoots. There are a surprising number of extras as well, notably extended interviews with a number of celebrities. They're good interviews that highlight the impact she has had on the industry.
While the film is obviously geared toward fans of photography, anyone with a fascination with celebrity will find a lot of entertainment in Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens. It's a loving tribute to a talented woman, which ultimately shows that one person can make a huge impact, not only on the magazine and photography industry, but on the lives of the people she touches.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated