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Gordon Willis In Memoriam: Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen, More Remember Oscar-Nominated DP

By and | Monday May 19, 2014 @ 3:53pm PDT

gordon_willisInfluential The Godfather and Annie Hall cinematographer Gordon Willis died Sunday at the age of 82, leaving behind a legacy that includes many of the most celebrated American films of the 1970s. He contributed some of his most iconic work in collaboration with two of the greats – Francis Ford Coppola and Woody Allen – who remembered their frequent DP today:

Related: R.I.P. ‘The Godfather’ DP Gordon Willis

Godfather - Gordon WillisSaid Francis Ford Coppola, for whom Willis crafted a landmark cinematographic aesthetic for The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, and The Godfather Part III that influenced generations to follow: “He was a brilliant, irascible man, a one of a kind. A cinematic genius with a precise aesthetic. My favorite description was that ‘He ice-skated on the film emulsion’. I learned a lot from him.”

Manhattan Gordon WillisWillis also shot a number of films for frequent collaborator Woody Allen, including Manhattan, Annie Hall, Stardust Memories, Broadway Danny Rose, and The Purple Rose Of Cairo. He earned the first of his two Oscar nods for his work on Allen’s Zelig. “Gordy was a huge talent and one of the few people who truly lived up to all the hype about him,” Woody Allen said of his late DP. Read More »

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R.I.P. ‘The Godfather’ DP Gordon Willis

By | Sunday May 18, 2014 @ 8:57pm PDT

gordon willis cinematographer Iconic cinematographer Gordon Willis died early Sunday at age 82 after a battle with cancer, surrounded by family at his Cape Cod home. Most famous for his distinctive cinematography work on Francis Ford Coppola‘s Godfather series, Willis’s also worked with Woody Allen on some of his great New York-based movies, including  Manhattan, Annie Hall, Zelig, Stardust Memories, Broadway Danny Rose, and The Purple Rose Of Cairo. He was a fixture with New York-based directors, also working with the late Alan J. Pakula on the classic All The President’s Men, Klute, and The Parallax View, and worked with Herbert Ross’s Pennies From Heaven; and Malice, The Devil’s Own. Official cause of death has not been disclosed, but expect Monday morning to be Gordon Willis appreciation day around the cinephile set. Phone calls and social media posts about Willis’s passing began trickling in Sunday evening. “This is a momentous loss,” confirmed ASC President Richard Crudo late Sunday night. “He was one of the giants who absolutely changed the way movies looked. Up until the time of The Godfather 1 and 2, nothing previously shot looked that way. He changed the way films looked and the way people looked at films.”

gordon willisQueens, NY-born Willis cultivated a background in photography and served in the Korean War as an Air Force Photographic and Charting Serviceman before starting his film career as an assistant cameraman, working his way up with commercials and documentaries. He made his debut as a cinematographer with four features in 1970: comedy End of the Road, Irvin Kershner’s Loving, drama The People Next Door, and Hal Ashby’s The Landlord. His deft use of shadows and light for Coppola’s 1972 mafia classic The Godfather was a career-maker for Willis, who came to be known as one of the most influential cinematographers in the field. Despite his landmark contributions, Willis didn’t win either of the Oscar nods earned for films with two of his most frequent collaborators – Woody Allen’s Zelig and Coppola’s The Godfather Part III. He also shot 1986′s The Money Pit, 1988′s Bright Lights, Big City, 1990′s Presumed Innocent, and his own lone directorial effort, the 1980 thriller Windows. In 2009 the Academy awarded him an Honorary Academy Award “for unsurpassed mastery of light, shadow, color and motion.” Read More »

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