William Zsigmond


Director Of Photography

About

Birth Place
Czeged, , HU
Born
June 16, 1930
Died
January 01, 2016
Cause of Death
Undisclosed

Biography

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 Vilm...

Family & Companions

Elizabeth Fuzes
Wife
Divorced.

Notes

"I think that every picture has its own world and I want to create a look for that particular picture each time I'm doing one. My mind only starts working when I read the script and see the sets. Then you start creating that world." --Zsigmond quoted in "Masters of Light: Conversations with Contemporary Cinematographers" by Dennis Schaefer and Larry Salvato (Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 1984).

Biography

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.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

The Long Shadow (1992)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Side by Side (2012)
Himself
No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos (2008)
Himself
Cinematographer Style (2006)
Ljuset Haller Mig Sallskap (2000)
Himself
Big Guns Talk: The Story of the Western (1997)
Maverick (1994)
Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (1992)
Himself

Cinematography (Feature Film)

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks (2014)
Director Of Photography
Compulsion (2013)
Director Of Photography
Summer Children (2011)
Director Of Photography
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010)
Director Of Photography
Cassandra's Dream (2007)
Director Of Photography
Surrender Dorothy (2006)
Director Of Photography
The Black Dahlia (2006)
Director Of Photography
Jersey Girl (2004)
Director Of Photography
Melinda and Melinda (2004)
Director Of Photography
Bank Ban (2002)
Director Of Photography
Life as a House (2001)
Director Of Photography
The Body (2001)
Director Of Photography
Ljuset Haller Mig Sallskap (2000)
Cinematographer
Playing By Heart (1998)
Director Of Photography
The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)
Director Of Photography
The Crossing Guard (1995)
Director Of Photography
Assassins (1995)
Director Of Photography
Maverick (1994)
Director Of Photography
Intersection (1994)
Director Of Photography
Sliver (1993)
Director Of Photography
Stalin (1992)
Director Of Photography
The Two Jakes (1990)
Director Of Photography
The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)
Director Of Photography
Fat Man and Little Boy (1989)
Director Of Photography
Journey to Spirit Island (1988)
Director Of Photography
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Director Of Photography
Real Genius (1985)
Director Of Photography
The River (1984)
Director Of Photography
No Small Affair (1984)
Director Of Photography
Table for Five (1983)
Director Of Photography
Jinxed! (1982)
Director Of Photography
Heaven's Gate (1980)
Director Of Photography
Winter Kills (1979)
Director Of Photography
The Rose (1979)
Director Of Photography
The Last Waltz (1978)
Cinematographer
The Deer Hunter (1978)
Director Of Photography
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Director Of Photography
Obsession (1976)
Director Of Photography
Sweet Revenge (1976)
Director Of Photography
Death Riders (1976)
Director Of Photography
The Girl From Petrovka (1974)
Director Of Photography
The Sugarland Express (1974)
Director Of Photography
Cinderella Liberty (1973)
Director Of Photography
Scarecrow (1973)
Director Of Photography
The Long Goodbye (1973)
Director Of Photography
Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970)
Director of Photography
Hot Rod Action (1969)
Director of Photography
The Monitors (1969)
Camera
Five Bloody Graves (1969)
Director of Photography
Jennie, Wife/Child (1968)
Director of Photography
The Name of the Game Is Kill! (1968)
Director of Photography
Mondo Mod (1967)
Director of Photography
Road to Nashville (1966)
Addl Photographer
Deadwood '76 (1965)
Director of Photography
A Hot Summer Game (1965)
Director of Photography
Psycho A Go-Go! (1965)
Director of Photography
The Nasty Rabbit (1965)
Director of Photography
Tales of a Salesman (1965)
Director of Photography
Rat Fink (1965)
Camera
The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Crazy Mixed-Up Zombies (1964)
Director of Photography
What's Up Front (1964)
Director of Photography
The Time Travelers (1964)
Director of Photography
The Sadist (1963)
Director of Photography
Living Between Two Worlds (1963)
Director of Photography

Producer (Feature Film)

The Maiden Danced to Death (2011)
Producer
Torn from the Flag (2007)
Executive Producer

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

The Border (1981)
Photography

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

The Bombing (2018)
Consultant
Side by Side (2012)
Other
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Black Dahlia (2006)
Dp/Cinematographer
Melinda and Melinda (2004)
Dp/Cinematographer
Life as a House (2001)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Crossing Guard (1995)
Dp/Cinematographer
Assassins (1995)
Dp/Cinematographer
Intersection (1994)
Other
Sliver (1993)
Dp/Cinematographer
Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (1992)
Other
The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Dp/Cinematographer
The River (1984)
Dp/Cinematographer
Table for Five (1983)
Dp/Cinematographer
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Sugarland Express (1974)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Long Goodbye (1973)
Dp/Cinematographer
Scarecrow (1973)
Dp/Cinematographer

Cast (Special)

Close Encounters with Vilmos Zsigmond (2016)
Himself

Cinematography (TV Mini-Series)

The Mists of Avalon (2001)
Director Of Photography
Flesh And Blood (1979)
Director Of Photography

Life Events

1956

Immigrated to US along with Laszlo Kovacks; brought footage of the Budapest uprising of October

1962

Was camera operator on "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies"

1963

First feature as director of photography, "The Sadist/Profile of Terror"; credited as William Zsigmond

1971

First feature with director Robert Altman "McCabe & Mrs. Miller"

1973

Again worked as the cinematographer on Robert Altman's "The Long Goodbye"

1976

Worked with Brian De Palma on "Obsession"

1977

Won an Oscar for his work as the cinematographer on Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"

1978

Earned an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematographer on Michael Cimino's "The Deer Hunter"

1980

Again worked with Michael Cimino on "Heaven's Gate"

1981

Was the cinematographer on the Brian De Palma thriller "Blow Out"

1990

Again worked with Brian De Palma on "The Bonfire of the Vanities"

1990

Was the cinematographer for the Jack Nicholson directed "The Two Jakes"

1992

Earned an Emmy for his work on the TV-movie "Stalin"

1996

Was the cinematographer for "The Ghost and the Darkness"

2001

Earned an Emmy nomination for his work on "The Mists of Avalon"

2006

Received an Oscar nomination as Best Cinematographer for "The Black Dahlia"

Videos

Movie Clip

Long Goodbye, The (1973) - All The Tigers In India Director Robert Altman opens (the old song by Johnny Mercer, who also co-wrote the title song) with rumpled Elliott Gould as Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, transported at least 20 years to contemporary LA, in The Long Goodbye, 1973, with Nina Van Pallandt and Sterling Hayden.
Long Goodbye, The (1973) - I've Been Working On Barbara Stanwyck Director Robert Altman drops two of many versions of the original title song by John Williams and Johnny Mercer, sung by Jack Sheldon then Clydie King, as we meet Lennox (MLB pitcher and author Jim Bouton) and Marlowe (Elliott Gould) shops for cat food, in The Long Goodbye, 1973.
Long Goodbye, The (1973) - You Got Your Friend Marlboro Marlowe (Elliott Gould) on his second visit to the Burbank detox joint where Doc Verringer (Henry Gibson) is squeezing boozy author patient Wade (Sterling Hayden, his first scene), and their return to his Malibu home and wife (Nina Van Pallandt), in Robert Altmans's The Long Goodbye, 1973.
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977) - Can You Tell Me Where Cornbread Is? On the first night of blackouts sweeping across Indiana, lineman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) encounters director Steven Spielberg’s gimmick with the headlights, and a famous sequence from special effects expert Douglas Trumbull, in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, 1977.
Cinderella Liberty (1973) - The Ship Is Under Way After opening with his ship arriving in Seattle, Navy Boatswain Dobbs (James Caan), having just learned he’ll have to stay behind for a medical test, wishes his mates farewell and learns (from nurse Diane Schenker) that he has liberty until midnight, thus the title, cueing the credits, in Mark Rydell’s film from Darryl Ponsican’s novel and screenplay, Cinderella Liberty, 1973, also starring Marsha Mason.
Cinderella Liberty (1973) - I Get Favors From Sailors After a quick liaison in her Seattle apartment, sailor Dobbs (James Caan) and cordial hooker Maggie, who owed him after losing at pool, conversing, and parting before he’s due back at the ship, meeting her supposedly sleeping son (Kirk Calloway), early in Cinderella Liberty, 1973.
Cinderella Liberty (1973) - I Was Too Much Man For Her Still stuck in Seattle, pulling Shore Patrol duty while waiting out a medical matter, sailor Dobbs (James Caan) shows up with a Navy birthday cake he rescued, at the home of Doug (Kirk Calloway), son of his hooker friend, who winds up going out with him and chatty partner Alcott (Bruno Kirby), in Cinderella Liberty, 1973.
Cinderella Liberty (1973) - What Are You Willie Mosconi? With time to kill before his official “liberty” expires, Navy sailor Dobbs (James Caan) in a Seattle barroom meets Marsha Mason, unusually skimpily attired, as working-girl Maggie, shooting pool, her first scene, in director Mark Rydell’s Cinderella Liberty, 1973.
Deliverance (1972) - Downstream Would Be A Good Idea City dwellers Lewis (Burt Reynolds) and Ed (Jon Voight) find the river, then less-experienced partners Drew (Ronny Cox) and Bobby (Ned Beatty) join them as they launch their canoes, John Boorman directing from the ever-profane script by the novelist James Dickey, early in Deliverance, 1972.
Deliverance (1972) - The System's Gonna Fail Still in their first afternoon on the north-Georgia river, Lewis (Burt Reynolds) with Bobby (Ned Beatty) and Ed (Jon Voight) with Drew (Ronny Cox), mark their first successful run and share some private moments, in John Boorman’s film from James Dickey’s novel, Deliverance, 1972.
Deliverance (1972) - You Play A Mean Banjo! Trying to arrange the delivery of their vehicles downstream, Drew (Ronny Cox) takes up the famous banjo-guitar duet, Billy Redden the partner, canoe trippers Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight and Ned Beatty observing, banjo recording by the composer Eric Weissberg, early in John Boorman’s Deliverance, 1972.
Sugarland Express, The (1974) - I Come With The Bad News Earlier in the credits we watched Lou Jean (Goldie Hawn) arrive on the bus to the Texas prison pre-release center, braced by the (un-credited) desk man, then presenting the problem to her inmate husband Clovis (William Atherton), opening Steven Spielberg's fact-based debut feature, The Sugarland Express, 1974.

Trailer

Family

Vilmo Zsigmond
Father
Soccer goalie, coach.
Bozena Zsigmond
Mother
Julia Zsigmond
Daughter
Susi Zsigmond
Daughter

Companions

Elizabeth Fuzes
Wife
Divorced.

Bibliography

Notes

"I think that every picture has its own world and I want to create a look for that particular picture each time I'm doing one. My mind only starts working when I read the script and see the sets. Then you start creating that world." --Zsigmond quoted in "Masters of Light: Conversations with Contemporary Cinematographers" by Dennis Schaefer and Larry Salvato (Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 1984).