Honorary Doctorate Presented to Freddie Young, BSC

Article excerpt

The following is the speech by which Freddie Young was introduced at the ceremony at the Hoyal College of Art.

My Lord Provost, by rights the man standing before you should be mounted on a camel in the Arabian desert, and filmed slowly riding towards you from about two miles away - surrounded by hazy heat waves, as if in a mirage - through an 800mm long-focus lens. For it was this sequence in Lawrence of Arabia-the most magnificent entrance in the history of the movies - which finally got him into the history books. Following a career which has spanned the entire story of cinema from handcranked cameras to motordriven ones, from silent to sound, from black & white to color, and from square-shaped images to letterbox -shaped ones and back again to wide-screen - Freddie Young, now in his 93rd year, is today recognized bv film professionals as the finest cinematographerand lighting cameraman of them all. As William Wordsworth might well have put it had he ever gone to the pictures, "Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, but to be Freddie Young is very heaven."

Born in 1902, six years after the Lumiere brothers first projected their flickering images before a public audience, the same year Picasso started the experiments which resulted in Cubism, and that Peter Rabbit first hopped into the scene, Freddie Young entered the industry in 1917, aged 15, as a film developer in the Gaumont laboratory when studios were literally glass houses for reflecting natural light.

In 1922, when Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, Freddie Young was also in the Valley of the Kings, working for a film crew shooting a Conan Doyle mystery. And in 1929, his name began to appear in the credits. Sixty-eight years - and a staggering 124 films-later, he recalls that in a notoriously unstable business, he has been out of work only two weeks, and that was at the end of the First World War. …