Vilmos Zsigmond, the celebrated cinematographer behind such classics as The Deer Hunter and Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, has died aged 85.
News of Zsigmond’s passing was confirmed by his long-time business partner Yuri Neyman, revealing that the Oscar-winner died on Friday in Big Sur, California.
Born and raised in Hungary in 1930, Zsigmond’s eye for cinema started early, when he would go on to study at the Academy of Drama and Film in Budapest, earning a Master of Arts in cinematography. After nurturing a series of low-key B-movies in Austria, his big break arrived in the form of Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller in the early 70s, before earning critical acclaim for his work on Close Encounters in 1977, along with The Deer Hunter the following year.
Throughout his long career, Zsigmond also stepped up to the plate to try his hand at directing, though was best known for serving as director of photography on the likes of Obsession, Blow Out, The Witches Of Eastwick, The Two Jakes, The Long Goodbye, Maverick.
Back in 2003, Zsigmond rubbed shoulders with the best in the business after charting in the top 10 most influential cinematographers of all time, according to the International Cinematographers Guild. In light of his passing, President Steven Poster released the following statement.
“Vilmos’ genius was not only in his images, but in his sense of duty to honest storytelling. Working up close with him, I also learned about perseverance and an obligation to the story from the master. His brave beginnings providing footage from the Hungarian revolution will always be an important part of his legacy and to future generations of cinematographers and film students. He made a difference.”
Rest in peace, Vilmos Zsigmond. Our thoughts go out to his close family members and friends.