Henri Albert Alékan was born on February 10, 1909 in Monmartre, Paris, Île-de-France France. Alékan studied at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts and the Institute of Optics, while following practices during Pathé Cinema. He was an Operator Assistant in 1928 and his union sympathies for the Popular Front led him to create an association of operator’s assistants. He is then, until 1940, a cameraman and cinematographer. Prohibited from practicing the profession of director of photography by law on the status of Jews by the Vichy government, he founded in Cannes in the autumn of 1940, the artistic and technical Youth Centre Cinema (CATJC ) 1, which takes the associative form in Nice in March 1941.
During World War II he was captured and imprisoned by the Germans when they invaded France in 1940, but he escaped from prison and formed his own resistance group. After the Liberation, he participated in the Higher Technical Committee (STC), founded in September 1944 in Max Douy by Jean Painlevé among others. After the war, he was also co-founder Louis Daquin the General Cooperative French 2 Cinema, for the production of demanding films.
Fame comes with the release and promotion by the Cooperative films, “La Bataille du rail” by René Clément (1946), in a documentary style. The same year, his success doubles with “La Belle et la Bête” by Jean Cocteau, in a fantastic style. His career as cinematographer continued with such films as :Les Maudits” (1947), “Les Amants de Vérone” (1949), “La Marie du port” (1949) “Une si jolie petite plage” (1949), “Austerlitz” (1960) and “La Princesse de Clèves” (1961). In 1971 he films his only Euro-western “Red Sun” starring Charles Bronson and Toshiro Mifune.
He was the inventor of a lighting process Transflex, and devoted the rest of his life showing highlighted cities, paths of light. He participated in long films jury of the Cannes Festival 1983.
Alékan died in Auxerre, Yonne, France on June 15, 2001.
Today we remember one of the great cinematographers Henri Alékan on what would have been his 105th birthday.