Today: May 30, 2024

Anton Corbijn – Inside Out

More than a rudderless fly-on-the-wall piece, Inside Out is a piercing look at Dutch visual auteur Anton Corbijn’s work and life, and how the two have influenced each other.

More than a
rudderless fly-on-the-wall piece, Inside Out is a piercing look at Dutch visual
auteur Anton Corbijn’s work and life, and how the two have influenced each
It looks at his personal as well as professional life (he is a
self-confessed workaholic), from his upbringing as a Protestant pastor’s son to
his current struggle to fit personal relationships into a hectic schedule.
Living most of the year on the road with just his camera for company, as he
says, is “a strange way to live”.

This eye-opening 90 minute documentary on the creative
pioneer, directed by Klaartje Quirijns,
is of interest not only to photography aficionados. Even those unaware of
Corbijn’s work may find themselves drawn to his distant, compelling work. A
portrait of the man and the artist, Inside Out, features Corbijn himself – now
57 – and contributions from Bono, George Clooney (star of his feature The American), Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore, Lou Reed, Metallica and Arcade Fire, without giving the big
names too much distracting time in the limelight.

Corbijn’s work on U2’s album covers for the past thirty
years are what he is known best for and mean that no matter what else he has
done or will do, his status as an iconic is guaranteed. But though it might
look like he comes out to play only when U2 bring out a new album, Corbijn is
very prolific and, as this film points out, there is plenty else of interest we
should know about.

The visual artist’s acclaimed film Control, about the troubled existence of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, is one, as are incredible shots of
musical legends like Kurt Cobain, Bjork,
Miles Davis
which he has collected while travelling the world, putting out
a film or two once in a while. And what of the man himself? Inside Out depicts
him as a loner, taking his creative output deeply seriously.

Corbijn’s methods are intriguing; in the documentary we see
a set of pictures he has taken from the vantage view of hotel rooms he has
stayed in, in metropolises across the globe – Dublin, NYC, Las Vegas,
Stockholm. But again, it’s as the outsider, Corbijn never getting too close to
his subject.

Inside Out, filmed with an aesthetic which is reminiscent of
Corbijn’s own style – includes many eloquent and genuine conversations with its
notoriously reserved subject, some of which reveal his biggest demons, namely
the isolation he feels between himself and those he photographs, and that old
dilemma – living one’s life as opposed to capturing life being lived. Despite
the glamorous names involved, it’s Corbijn’s own family members who provide the
most interesting reflections (his sister, for instance, calls him “a loner”).

Not everyone is in agreement on Corbijn and his work. He is
extremely successful, and Inside Out doesn’t press the point or celebrate him
as a genius; instead, it deftly attempts to get under the skin of a craftsman who,
at the age of 57, having avoided the kind of celebrity life he could for years
have had easy access to, as he assesses his existence as candidly as his work.

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