THE GODFATHER and MANHATTAN Cinematographer Gordon Willis Dead at 82

     May 19, 2014


Cinematographers never get enough credit.  Their so crucial to a film’s success, but if you mention their names to casual filmgoers, they’ll probably give you a blank stare.  Variety reports that Gordon Willis, the cinematographer behind some of cinema’s best films, passed away at the age of 82.  Willis was a giant of 1970s cinema, and helped to create some of Hollywood’s all-time classics including The Godfather, Annie Hall, Klute, Manhattan, and All the President’s Men.  To quote The Playlist’s obituary, “Willis’ greatest gift was in collaborating with the filmmakers he worked with on evoking that intangible mood for each of their pictures.”  Willis’ last film was 1997 was Alan J. Pakula‘s The Devil’s Own after which he retired due to his failing eyesight.

Hit the jump to check out some clips from Willis’ films and an interview with the master cinematographer.  Our deepest condolences go out to Mr. Willis’ family and friends.

Hat tip to Russ Fischer for leading me to this clip from the documentary Visions of Light, which is about the art of cinematography.


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  • Alboone

    Woah the world of cinema just lost a giant. If anyone has a semblance of interest in visual photography today we are really feeling it. One of the masters of the field. Mr. Willis thank you so much for all the indelible imagery you have given us, may you RIP.

  • The Flobbit

    This is sad news. Gordon Willis was a true titan of the filmmaking world. Every frame of The Godfather was utterly perfect, largely due to this mans visual genius. Rest in Peace, Mr. Willis.

  • Person

    All hail Manhattan, arguably the most beautifully shot black-and-white film ever made. Yes, I’ll make that statement.

    • Hey…HEY!


  • the king of comedy

    R.I.P Gordon Willis, arguably the greatest conematographer that ever lived, the Godfather and Manhatan were beautiful to behold.

  • Bo

    Yes, a great photographer. Those days seem to be long gone when a film and its photography were mentioned like with this man’s work. I just don’t hear people talking about the photography in films since the digital era has come. Not like they did back in the days of Lawrence of Arabia, Days of Heaven, The Conformist, Apocalypse Now, all of Willis’ work. But film is gone and so seems the beauty of it. I’m not a fan of digital and mourn the passing of film, but it is what it is. Having said that, one of my now all time favorite films, in my top 5, is Valhalla Rising. The look of that film is just great, very beautifully shot…and lo and behold it was shot digitally…on the Red thingy or whatever, lol…so I’ve got to mourn, let go of film in recognizing its passing, and accept digital as it’s here to stay. And Valhalla Rising certainly shows digital can capture beautiful images as, to me, that whole film is masterfully shot and captured.

  • DEADP00L

    Now an extinct species.

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