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Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens (2008)

Bette Midler , Kirsten Dunst , Barbara Leibovitz  |  NR |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Bette Midler, Kirsten Dunst, Whoopi Goldberg, Mick Jagger, Keira Knightley
  • Directors: Barbara Leibovitz
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: October 28, 2008
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001C71IEM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,553 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • Over an hour of never-before-seen interviews organized in five thematic exhibition galleries

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens

In her portraits for Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, Annie Leibovitz has photographed a generation (and more) of rock stars, politicians, and supermodels. Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens, a documentary created by Leibovitz's sister Barbara, suggests that she might be somewhat overqualified for the job. Not that Leibovitz reflects too much on the business of photographing movie stars for a living. Her nomadic life suits her just fine, and might have come from a childhood spent as an Army brat, moving around the world every few years. Home movies give some of the flavor of Leibovitz's youth, and her arrival in San Francisco just as the Sixties counterculture (and Rolling Stone magazine) were getting underway is covered with old footage and new interviews with colleagues, including publisher Jann Wenner. It was a wild time (Wenner speaks of sending Leibovitz on tour with the Rolling Stones as though he were responsible for selling her into slavery), and it took its toll; the movie doesn't go into great detail, but a substance abuse problem and subsequent rehab is acknowledged and quickly forgotten. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards remember her warmly, in any case. Leibovitz's personal life is in the shadows, except for her relationship with writer Susan Sontag. The rest is a series of testimonials from admiring subjects (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Whoopi Goldberg) and some on-location stuff for Vanity Fair, including a shoot with George Clooney and Julia Roberts. Her working methods show someone with very specific ideas about what she wants, and a disarmingly blunt way of getting them. Perhaps the most memorable section of this American Masters program is the account of Leibovitz's photographs of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, including a celebrated Rolling Stone cover of a naked Lennon embracing his wife, taken a few hours before Lennon's murder. That kind of work proves that in Leibovitz's world of portraiture, intimacy is everything. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ode to an artist December 1, 2008
By Reader
Annie Leibovitz's sister has created a memorable documentary honoring the life's work of her older sister. We learn about Ms. Leibovitz's early beginings in photography when she started her career at the "Rolling Stones" magazine. Her evolution from rock and roll photographer to a photographer of portraits and later on fashion (when she moved to "Vanity Fair" magazine). Documentary is also an honest look and her personal life: her relationship with Susan Sontag, her parents and siblings, her three daughters. For anyone interested in photography as a visual form of art this movie is a real treasure.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic insight into Leibovitz's work and process December 26, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
As a photographer and fan of Annie Leibovitz I was excited to find this documentary. It was just as I'd hoped. It included most of her most popular and famous images, and gave insight into her process and the road she has taken in her career. It's an interesting companion to her latest book. I watched the documentary, then received her book and felt almost like in the book she gets a little bit of revenge for the candid discussions given by her colleagues and subjects in this documentary!

It's well edited and a great treat for any Leibovitz fan.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Behind the Lens Insight November 16, 2008
I found this a thoughtful documentary into the evolution of a photographer best known in the realm of pop culture.

It touches upon the journey that evolved around Annie and how she came to shape the road of her own destiny.

Very much worth a viewing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Annie has gone from being a fly on the wallpaper to being a Super Star on the Flying Trapeze in a Three Ring Circus. She's began as a photographer in the manner of Robert Frank and Henri Carier Bresson and then moved into the "Vanity Fair" and "Vogue" World of NYC photography with the huge in-town studio and country converted water mill home in Conn. She went from the seeming invisible maker of candid photographs to Cecil B. DeMille Hollywood productions. She was soon working with dozens of assistants, set builders, art directors, grips, teamsters, hairdressers, cranes, helicopters, the Nittany Lions Marching Band, etc., etc. She managed to maintain her ability to make good pictures despite this complete change in work style and still enjoys capturing images as a loner as well as the Glitzy Celebrity Portrait Shoots. For a woman who more of less stumbled accidentally into the world of photography and popular music she has certainly found her secret talent.
This DVD is a very well done portrait of Annie Leibovitz and her life in photography. It includes pictures and home movies of her early life as one of six children of an Air Force Officer. While their father was fighting in the Vietnam War, the six kids were marching and protesting against that same war. This is the tale of a 1960's war protestor gone mainstream. In many ways, it's the story of the entire baby boom generation. It's wonderful to see a success story that is the result of talent, hard work and totally without inside contacts. Annie went to work for "Rolling Stone" as the magazine was being born and then grew up with it. Annie is one-of-a-kind, but that fact hasn't gone to her head.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic February 9, 2012
It seems like we all know Annie Leibovitz, we've seen her photographs everywhere, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Vogue, seemingly everywhere. This film is a wonderful documentary that shows an unknown side of this famous photographer.

This is a simply made, elegant film. It feels a lot like we simply spent an hour and twenty-seven minutes listening to her recount her life. The film rolls full circle, from her early days taking pictures of her family, through the incredible luck getting a job at Rolling Stone during it's first years of publication, through the diva-like celebrity photographs, back to her love of photographing her family. The film ends where her latest book starts, Pilgrimage, (Pilgrimage) a book of family trip photographs. It is remarkable that a film from 2008 would predict the wonderful current work.

I didn't know a lot about Annie Leibovitz, but yet I knew a lot. We all know a lot about her - at least through the thousands of photographs she has published. Barbara Leibovitz, Annie's sister, does a remarkable job directing this film. Much like her photographs, the film is a little bit posed and a little bit raw. The film was edited very carefully, and does present Annie in the best possible light. The film was delicate about the Rolling Stones tour and her drug use during the early years of her career at Rolling Stone Magazine.

The core film was originally aired on PBS, so the film is PG. The DVD includes a massive set of bonus features - slightly more raw, somewhat uncut, interviews with many of the subjects of the film. There appears to be a bit more honesty in these interviews. Sadly, the bonus features get really long in the tooth. The film is gem of the DVD.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Testament to the Power of Photography May 24, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
If you think Ansel Adams was or is the only famous photographer, think again. I honestly had never heard of Annie Leibovitz before buying this DVD. However, I am taking expensive night classes to become a professional photographer and have become very open minded to learning about photographers I had not known before. This video of Annie's life opened my mind like nothing had before to what fantastic possibilities photography offers one working in this profession. I found this DVD to be a first-rate, high-energy production that kept me on the edge of my chair the whole time. Part of me never wanted it to end. At the end, however, you are left with a keen awareness of the power photography offers as an art form and communication tool. I almost never write a review on any DVD or book, though this is different. If you want to experience a brief taste of what it means to be a photographic master, do not hesitate to pick up and watch this DVD. In conclusion, after seeing this DVD, my hope is that one day Annie would be inspired to develop training DVDs or to actually teach several week-long seminars on location each year so that photographers aspiring to greatness could have the privilege and opportunity to learn directly from the master.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a very good inside view of her work and working methods
I'm actually not an Annie Leibovitz fan but I respect her dedication. This is a very good inside view of her work and working methods. Read more
Published 27 days ago by Paul T. Owen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good
Published 2 months ago by Americo de Paula e Silva Junior
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This was a gift. It was very much appreciated.
Published 2 months ago by Nancy G.
5.0 out of 5 stars Best doc ever
Love this documentary about Annie Leibovitz. It is filled with celebrity interviews and insider looks at the process of working with these amazing stars. Read more
Published 4 months ago by MM
4.0 out of 5 stars annie lribowitz
the road to success is rarely easy. for a serious photographer, this is classic viewing of a contempory photo artist.
Published 5 months ago by martin Dittelman
4.0 out of 5 stars I like her work but she is a child of the 60's
She does very good work but listening to her is trying. The images and watching her work makes this worth it.
Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars annie leibovitz
Loved this film Its done by her daughter a very intimate look at her career to date, shes an amazing talent.
Published 15 months ago by OluWaa
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Documentary with a Mixed Message
This engagingly produced documentary concentrates on the various phases of photographer Annie Leibowitz's career, from her beginnings in the San Francisco protest movement in the... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Dr. Laurence Raw
5.0 out of 5 stars Great video
This was a gift for my fiance who is an Annie Leibovitz fan. I thought it was a great documentary perspective on a talented artistic photographer. A definite recommend from me!
Published 23 months ago by Jenn Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly unique individual
This movie told me so much about Annie Leibovitz that I did not know and reminded me of so many of the images that she captured that changed our lives. Read more
Published on September 28, 2012 by jon brewer
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