Sunday, January 3, 2016

RIP Vilmos Zsigmond

Sad question to start off the new year...

What is wrong with this world? I know, that's a loaded question these days – I guess I should say, what's wrong with Hollywood? I went on IMDB this afternoon and the top news story was that “The Maus Awakened” had taken yet another billion dollar boffo box office record or something. The second story was the passing of cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond – the last of the greats reduced to second billing. A passing that should be heralded. McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Heaven's Gate two of the most beautiful westerns ever shot. Not to mention Deliverance, The Deer Hunter, and my first three seconds on screen The Sugarland Express. (I have to add one of my favorite films of the last twenty years, Life as a House.) Hollywood always seem to reduce a career to a footnote in favor of what is filling their coffers at the moment. I called Zsigmond as the last of the greats; as he was the last of my personal top five – Haskell Wexler (who we lost last week), Conrad Hall, Gordon Willis, and John Alonzo. The light and shadows that these men shaped over the passed fifty years was the art I grew up with and their passing is a major loss – fortunately, we have new and fresh eyes like Rachel Morrison and Benji Bakshi joining the ranks of Robert Richardson, Michael Chapman, Roger Deakins, John Seale, and Roger Pratt, et al - to carry on. RIP Vilmos.
Set of The Sugarland Express. Courtesy of ASC.