Gordon Willis dead: Godfather cinematographer dies aged 82

The Francis Ford Coppola and Woody Allen collaborator is remembered

Gordon Willis has died aged 82.

The cinematographer served as director of photography for The Godfather, Annie Hall and Manhattan.

“This is a momentous loss,” American Society of Cinematographers President Richard Crudo told Deadline. “He was one of the giants who absolutely changed the way movies looked.”

His style was characterised by his ability to use shadow and underexposed film, and his preference for filming just before twilight – when light is often warm and golden. Fellow cinematographer Conrad Hall consequently dubbed him the “Prince of Darkness”.

 In 2010 he was celebrated with an honorary lifetime achievement Oscar. He was also nominated for Academy Awards for Woody Allen’s Zelig and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather: Part III. Coppola once said that Willis had a “natural sense of structure and beauty, not unlike a Renaissance artist”.

Although is perhaps best known for his work on The Godfather, he most extensively worked with Allen – with whom he made eight films, including The Purple Rose of Cairo, Interiors, Stardust Memories and Broadway Danny Rose.

Born in 1931 in New York, Willis first entered the entertainment business as a make-up artist for Warner Brothers. During the Korean War, Willis served in the air force, managing to join the Air Force Photographic and Charting Service in a motion picture unit, where he learnt all he could about the film world.

Upon leaving the air force, he started working on adverts and documentaries before making his move into film with End of The Road in 1970.

He retired following 1997 action thriller The Devil’s Own, which starred Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford.

"I got tired of trying to get actors out of trailers, and standing in the rain,” Willis said of his decision to bring his career to a close.

Read more: Story of the scene: The Godfather
The strained making of Coppola's Apocalypse Now
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones