Henri Alekan

Director of photography, Director, Camera operator
One of France's most distinguished, and versatile, cinematographers, Henri Alekan became an assistant camera operator in 1929 and graduated to director of photography as a member of the French Resistance (he had escaped ... Read more »
Born: 02/10/1909 in France


Camera, Film, & Tape (34)

La Belle et la Bete 1992 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Petrified Garden 1992 (Movie)

cinematography (Cinematographer)

Berlin Jerusalem 1991 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Golem, the Spirit of the Exile 1991 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Esther 1989 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

J'ecris dans l'espace 1989 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Wings of Desire 1988 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Im Exil der Ertrunkenen Tiger 1987 (Movie)

cinematography (Cinematographer)

Wundkanal 1983 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Une Pierre dans la bouche 1982 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Der Stand der Dinge 1981 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Het Dak van de Walvis 1981 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

La Belle Captive 1981 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Trout 1981 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Territory 1980 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

L' Ombre et la nuit 1977 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Soleil Rouge 1970 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Christmas Tree 1969 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Mayerling 1968 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Lady L 1966 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Triple Cross 1966 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Topkapi 1964 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Five Miles to Midnight 1962 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Un, deux, trois, quatre! 1962 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Austerlitz 1960 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Case of Dr. Laurent 1958 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Julietta 1956 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Frou-Frou 1955 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The House on the Waterfront 1955 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Heroes and Sinners 1954 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Roman Holiday 1953 (Movie)

cinematography (Cinematographer)

Le Fruit defendu 1951 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

La Bataille du Rail 1945 (Movie)


La Bataille du Rail 1945 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)
Actor (5)

Faraway, So Close 1993 (Movie)

Captain (Actor)

The Other Eye 1990 (Movie)


Dorenavant tout sera comme d'habitude 1984 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Unser Nazi 1983 (Movie)

Director of Photography (Actor)


One of France's most distinguished, and versatile, cinematographers, Henri Alekan became an assistant camera operator in 1929 and graduated to director of photography as a member of the French Resistance (he had escaped from a German prisoner-of-war camp in 1940). He made his mark in black and white in the 1940s. Rene Clement's "Battle of the Rails" (1945), an expansion of Clement's short documentary, allowed Alekan to beautifully capture the acts of sabotage and fights between the railway workers and Germans. His lyrical precision and sober yet sensitive abilities achieved their apotheosis with Jean Cocteau's "La Belle et le bete/Beauty and the Beast" (1945), in which he created a poetic atmosphere that was a perfect harmony of images, using contrasts to create plays of light and shadows in ways that invoked artists like de Hooch and Vermeer.


Pierre Alekan

younger traveled with brother performing until Henri decide to pursue career in film

Nadia Starcevic



Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers


Institut d'Optique




Shot last feature, "Petrified Garden", directed by Gitai


Acting debut in Wenders' "Faraway, So Close"


Received the lion's share of critical praise for the glorious black and white cinematography of "Wings of Desire", directed by Wenders


Began collaboration with director Amos Gitai on "Esther"


Earned acclaim for "The Trout"


Shot both "The Territory" for director Raul Ruiz and "The State of Things" for Wim Wenders


Served as cinematographer on "Mayerling"


Was director of photography on "Topkapi"


Solo short film directing debut, "L'enfer de Rodin"


Hired to replace Franz Planer on "Roman Holiday", directed by William Wyler


Short film co-directing debut (with Henri Bonniere), "La Sarre, pleins feux"


Reunited with Carne to shoot "La Marie du Port


Shot the British-produced "Anna Karenina", directed by Julien Duvivier and starring Vivien Leigh


Co-founded Academie du Cinema


Garnered international attention for work on "La Bataille du rail/Battle of the Railway", helmed by Rene Clement, and "La Belle et le bete/Beauty and the Beast", directed by Jean Cocteau


Was a founding member of IDHEC


Debuted as director of photography on the short "Le Chariot de Thespis" and Yves Allegret's feature "Tobie est un ange" (no longer extant)


Imprisoned by the Germans


Helped organize what became the union of assistant cameramen


Worked as camera operator's assistant at Billancourt Studio

Worked as a bank clerk

Worked as camera operator on films by directors such as Marcel Carne, Max Ophuls and Abel Gance; first film as camera operator, G.W. Pabst's "Mademoiselle Docteur"

With younger brother Pierre, worked as a traveling puppeteer

After escaping from a German prison camp, formed the Resistance group July 14 with brother Pierre

Studied optics and worked as an assistant cameraman

Bonus Trivia


He was a Commander in the Legion of Honor of Arts and Letters.