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Overview for William Zsigmond
William Zsigmond

William Zsigmond



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Also Known As: William Zsigmond Died: January 1, 2016
Born: June 16, 1930 Cause of Death: Undisclosed
Birth Place: Czeged, , HU Profession: Cinematography ... director of photography lab technician cameraman still photographer camera assistant


Hungarian cinematographer Vilmos Szigmond helped to define the look and scope of such iconic films of the 1970s, including "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" (1971), "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977) and "The Deer Hunter" (1978), over the course of an five-decade, Oscar-winning career. Born June 16, 1930 in Szeged, Hungary, he was the son of a famed soccer player and coach, also named Vilmos Szigmond. After earning his master's degree in cinematography from the Academy of Drama and Film in Budapest, he served as director of photography for a film studio. The turmoil of 1956 Hungarian Revolution spurred him and fellow student Laszlo Kovacs to record the clash between his countrymen and the Soviet occupying forces; together, they fled to Austria before making their way to the United States. There, both Szigmond and Kovacs worked on numerous low-budget horror and exploitation titles, most notably the epically titled "Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies" (1964). Director Robert Altman brought him to mainstream features with "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" (1971), which earned him praise for his muted palette of color and light to emphasis the film's cold, dreary environment. The success of the film led to more work with Altman ("The Long Goodbye," 1973), as well as such iconic films of the decade as John Boorman's "Deliverance" (1972), Stephen Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," which earned him an Oscar, Martin Scorsese's "The Last Waltz" (1978) and Michael Cimino's "The Deer Hunter." By the 1980s, Szigmond was one of the most in-demand cinematographers in Hollywood, lending his crisp visuals and painterly use of color to Brian DePalma's "Blow Out" (1981) and "Bonfire of the Vanities" (1990) and Mark Rydell's "The River" (1984), which brought him a second Oscar nomination. In 1992, Szigmond made his debut as director on a Hungarian/Israeli production, "The Long Shadow," but soon returned to cinematography for both features and television, including the HBO biopic "Stalin" (1993), which brought him an American Society of Cinematographers Award, and the TNT miniseries "The Mists of Avalon" (2001), which earned him an Emmy nomination. As his storied body of work began to reap laurels in the late '90s - most notably, a 1999 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Cinematographers and a PBS documentary "No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo and Vilmos" (2009) - his career continued unabated, and soon included collaborations with Woody Allen ("Melinda and Melinda," 2004) and a third Oscar nomination for DePalma's "The Black Dahlia" (2006). Szigmond had begun work on four films at the time of his death in Big Sur, California on January 1, 2016.

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