Monday, August 26, 2013


Gilbert Taylor, in 1976, on location for  Star Wars.
Camera-minded people like me were saddened by the news of veteran cinematographer Gilbert Taylor's passing this week. Looking over his list of credits made me appreciate the "lighting cameraman" even more; I'm familiar with what he shot but there were some reminders: Repulsion, for one (from 1965).

Talking about an image is almost as futile as trying the same with music, but here it goes....

The cameraman with a long career worked effectively in both colour and black & white.

Monochrome goodness: Look at Dr. Stranglelove (1964) and A Hard Day's Night (1964) as evidence of one film lit using lots of "heads" (the former) and one lit by optimizing what was there (the latter)... I'm exaggerating, of course, since Day's Night would have had supplementary lighting; but it looked Cinema Verite. (Taylor was hired by Roman Polanski to shoot Repulsion due to his work on Dr. Strangelove.)

Now for colour: The Omen's chill effect was, in a large way, generated by Taylor's lensing. A friend of mine calls it "drizzly photography", and I think he is right. That wasn't a southern California production; and an Englishman knows how to play-up what attributes his homeland offers.

Star Wars (1977) was the big bang; meaning the film that put Gilbert Taylor on the map for us, at least "name" wise. I've long been a fan of the lighting plan in that film. That movie glows. To see this, one has to get an 'original' print of Star Wars -- creator George Lucas had the film's image "cooled-off" when he did the 1997 re-release abortionation.

Like many people who worked for years in the highly stressful and competitive film business, Gilbert Taylor lived a long life: 1914 - 2013

In the War Room - Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

BBC quality obit on Gilbert Taylor...

A surprisingly feeble Wikipedia entry...

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