Cinema lost a true great when it was announced that legendary cinematographer Gordon Willis passed away. Gordon Willis was responsible for some of the greatest looking pictures of all-time over the course of his 31 year career. His trademark shadow-play is instantly recognizable, even if movie watchers aren’t aware of his the man behind the camera, they know the works of Gordon Willis.
In what must be considered one of the greatest runs ever in the history of cinema, from 1971 to 1977 Willis worked on Klute, The Godfather, The Parallax View, The Godfather Part II, All the President’s Men and Annie Hall. Those films accumulated 39 Oscar nominations between them, with three of them winning Best Picture—The Godfather (1972), The Godfather Part II (1974) and Annie Hall (1977)—yet Willis himself was not nominated for any of his work on those films.
Shockingly, he never won an Academy Award for his cinematography, but in 2009 Willis received an honorary Academy Award along with fellow honorees Lauren Bacall, John Calley and Roger Corman. Looking back at the man’s contributions to the medium of cinema, he should have had many, many more.
Willis will be greatly missed, but fortunately, we will always have his great works to look upon.
In closing, I leave you with the sentiments of CriticWire’s Sam Adams on Willis’s passing.
“The great cinematographer Gordon Willis has died. Heaven has never looked more beautiful.”