Distinguished Polish cinematographer, Kurt Weber, passed away this June. Remarkable artist and filmmaker, he never had the chance to fully grow as a cinematographer due to tragic events happening in Communist Poland at the end of 1960s. Being of Jewish origin, he had to emigrate because of the anti-Semitic climate pervading the whole country. His first thought was to travel to Israel, but he eventually went to West Germany and settled there, while simultaneously starting to educate the next generation of young filmmakers at universities in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Mainz. His legacy includes at least a couple of genuine masterpieces of Polish cinema and countless grateful cinematographers whom he helped to find their own artistic paths.
Before he left Poland, Kurt Weber collaborated with many outstanding Polish filmmakers, including Tadeusz Konwicki, Czesław and Ewa Petelscy, Kazimierz Kutz, Janusz Morgenstern, Janusz Majewski, Jan Łomnicki, Aleksander Ścibor-Rylski and Stanisław Różewicz. With Konwicki he made the amazing “Somersault”, making each shot visually distinct and creating a space in which Zbigniew Cybulski, Gustaw Holoubek and other actors could show what they were truly capable of. Weber also shot “The Depot of the Dead” which was compared to the works of French auteur Marcel Carné in terms of cinematography.
Kurt Weber tried to make his lensing as seamless as possible within the context of the story he was shooting. As a result, he sometimes heavily stylized the worlds he created on screen and used visual metaphors to accentuate the emotions governing the protagonists’ actions. On a number of occasions he simply tried to be as realistic as possible, almost on the verge of the documentary cinéma vérité style. Above all, he loved to work on real locations, because only then he felt he could “sculpt in nature” with the use of technical means he had at hand. When the anti-Semitic drive of 1969 made him to leave his country, Polish cinema lost one of its most beloved filmmakers. Kurt Weber might not have shot that many movies, but those he made are the greatest artistic legacy he could leave.