in 1990 the Academy could have made up for past sins by giving him the Oscar for GODFATHER III, so masterfully matching the look and beauty of the former films (his only GODFATHER nomination) but it was lost in the DANCES WITH WOLVES mania. at least he was given an honorary award. such a terrific artist.
Out of pure coincidence I watched Interiors for the first time last night. It’s one of those films that is so close to being unbearable, but it works because of serval key ingredients that really pull together, Gordon Willis was an invaluable part of that.
A fantastic cinematographer, and it boggles the mind that he not only didn’t win an Oscar, but he was only nominated twice. RIP
One of the titans of his craft
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN isn’t often cited when talking about him, but just go back and re-watch that one if you can.
Quite simply, the greatest cinematographer in American history.
“Gordon Willis is the best cinematographer working in America today. Without a doubt. Period. End of discussion”
“Masters of Light: Conversations with Contemporary Cinematographers.” (Dennis Schaefer and Larry Salvato)
That Willis could govern light as few others can is a given, but what he also excelled at was a visual design. Bryce Forestieri mentioned ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN. If anyone looks at that picture, you will know what I mean by design. Not just the light and the framing. The genius of the visual design was that the most powerful man in the entire picture is not seen but for five seconds at the start… and yet, Willis’s cinematography put Nixon EVERYWHERE. He did so by using the geometry to convey power. Squares, rectangles, ciricles, straight lines, angular perspective… the spaces of Washington, interior and extrior SHOW power. His work elsewhere was majestic (and I prefer The Godfathers as movies), but PRESIDENT’S MEN is one of the most astonishing works I have ever, ever seen. A career high for nearly all involved.
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