UPDATED - NANCY ALLEN FB POST - "A GREAT ARTIST AND A GENTLEMAN"
Vilmos Zsigmond has passed away. He was 85. According to an initial report by Variety's Carmel Dagan, Zsigmond's business partner Yuri Neyman said that the legendary cinematographer died January 1st. Zsigmond shot four films for Brian De Palma over four decades: Obsession (1976), Blow Out (1981), The Bonfire Of The Vanities (1990), and The Black Dahlia (2006), the latter of which gained Zsigmond his fourth Oscar nomination (he won for his first nom, for Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters Of The Third Kind in 1977).
I hadn't heard this before, but Dagan states that in an interview, "Zsigmond professed dissatisfaction about working with Spielberg; despite having many good ideas for the look of the film, he felt like nothing more than a glorified cameraman. He never worked with the director again." Dagan continues, "He picked up an Oscar nom for [Michael Cimino's] The Deer Hunter (1979), which he considered one of his finest achievements. Though the film was critically panned, Zsigmond’s work on Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate was equally strong. He brought a documentary style to the film musical The Rose, directed by Mark Rydell, which led to the Scorsese documentary about the Band, The Last Waltz. Another high-water mark for Zsigmond was De Palma’s 1981 thriller Blow Out."
In 1992, Zsigmond directed the feature film The Long Shadow. In recent years, he made three films with Woody Allen, and also shot several episodes of NBC's The Mindy Project.
"IF YOU PLAY EVERYTHING IN CLOSE-UPS THEN YOU MIGHT AS WELL JUST READ THE BOOK"
In a 2014 interview with Filmmaker Magazine's Kaleem Aftab, Zsigmond was asked about when it is frustrating to work with a director. "If the director doesn’t like long shots and doesn’t like establishing shots and everything is based on words and dialogue and he wants to play everything up in close-up and use it that way, that’s no fun for me," replied Zsigmond. "I really think a movie should be visual, if the visuals are not good then I’m not interested. If you play everything in close-ups then you might as well just read the book. If you really want to have dialogue and just talk, talk, talk, there is no reason to go to the movie theater."
When asked what was the most difficult shot he had ever achieved, Zsigmond responded, "I don’t know what is the most difficult shot. But a difficult shot is to do something like at the start of Bonfire of the Vanities, the opening shot which is going on five minutes with a Steadicam, going from a basement, up an elevator, getting out of the elevator, going along the hallway until you end up a thousand feet away from where you started. That is all in one shot. If it works that’s great, it’s good for a film. The closer a film looks like reality and real life, the better it is." Asked how much planning went into that shot, Zsigmond said, "A whole day. One day of rehearsing and lighting and then the next night we were shooting at least ten times and one of them turned out good."
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