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The Maestro Shot That Took Four Years to Get Right

Rebecca Ford, VANITY FAIR

December 21, 2023

Bradley Cooper and cinematographer Matthew Libatique on their years of preparation and the ability to “pivot and execute” for their Leonard Bernstein love story.

Bradley Cooper knows how much it can hurt a film if the director and the cinematographer aren’t seeing eye to eye. “I’ve been as an actor on movie sets for so many years, and if there’s not that synchronicity between the director and the DP, and if there’s not that ability to pivot, which is always really based on an insecurity about what somebody wants, that’s when things start to get murky,” he says.

The actor filmmaker had already found that synchronicity with his Maestro cinematographer Matthew Libatique, whom he first worked with on A Star Is Born. For their second collaboration, the pair had an even more ambitious undertaking, taking years to trace iconic composer Leonard Bernstein’s (played by Cooper) artistic rise and his long relationship with his wife, Felicia (played by Carey Mulligan). The movie, shot on film, is a big, bold swing, switching between black and white and color and different aspect ratios, creating a dizzying and sometimes joyous cinematic experience.

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