Gordon Willis earns honorary Oscar

Lenser paints dark corners of soul with light, shadow

They called him “the Prince of Darkness” for his propensity for low-level lighting, but seriously, how better to convey Vito Corleone’s unfathomable evil than to have him lurk in the shadows, his whiteless eyes a cipher as henchmen pass along in a range of browns, blacks and grays?

Still, in a very real sense Gordon Willis paints less with light than with heat. The moral chill of the Godfather’s den is intensified when intercut with the warmth of his daughter’s wedding reception just past the closed shutters, just as the bleak Gotham midwinter of son Michael’s vengeance gives way to the searing Sicilian glare when he spots his soulmate with a blast of “the thunderbolt.”

Willis expresses ’70s paranoia in every frame of “Klute,” “All the President’s Men” and “The Parallax View,” while “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan” define their city for all time. More mind-boggling than all these accomplishments is his Oscar record: two mere nominations with no competitive wins.

But no matter. To see a film photographed by Gordon Willis is to be hit by the thunderbolt.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading