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Aug 25, 2013

Gilbert Taylor cinematographer of The Omen, Flash Gordon and a popular Beatles film has died. Oh, he also was cinematographer for a small, low budget film called Star Wars.

gilbert taylor starwars

Some people may think that the original Star Wars film was simply George Lucas getting lucky was mistaken. A director merely directs (ha!) others to do their jobs in the way they are directed. It just so happens those others are incredibly talented people in their own right who are able to contribute wonderfully to the films they are a part of. 

Case in point, Gilbert Taylor who was the cinematographer for A New Hope. If you thought the movie 'looked' cool, he's one of the people that made it so...

Gilbert died last week. Here's what was posted on the official Star Wars website about the man. It appears he had a fine innings. 

Star Wars cinematographer Gilbert Taylor passed away on Friday at his home in the Isle of Wight. He was 99. From the iconic opening shot of a massive Imperial Star Destroyer chasing the Rebels' Tantive IV to the setting of twin suns on Tatooine, Taylor played a large role in establishing the visual identity of the entire series.

"Gilbert's work truly stands the test of time," says George Lucas. "I had long admired his work on films such as A Hard Day's Night and Dr. Strangelove and I had the privilege of working with him on Star Wars. He was a true expert in his craft. Gilbert's inspired work will live on in the many films he contributed to throughout his long career."

Taylor's credits include several classics, such as Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Roman Polanski's Repulsion (1965), and Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy (1972). He remains a deeply respected figure in film.

For more on Taylor and his work on Star Wars, visit the Star Wars Blog.

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Here's what Taylor said about Star Wars:

“I am most happy to be remembered as the man who set the look for Star Wars. I wanted to give Star Wars a unique visual style that would distinguish it from other films in the science fiction genre. I wanted Star Wars to have clarity because I think space isn’t out of focus, also I was mindful that there was an enormous amount of process work to be done in America with [John] Dykstra after we had finished shooting in England, and a crisp result would help this process.

 The cinematography was specially designed by myself so that these huge dark spacecraft could be illuminated to contain all the action. I literally tore the sets to pieces and inserted huge quartz like panels which would give George Lucas freedom to shoot in all directions quickly without re-lighting.

My special light screens used 7,000 photofloods on large dimming apparatus. This powerful pattern made a huge impression on the audience. I was honored to be awarded the Golden Globe from the American Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror Films for 1977 for my outstanding photography of Star Wars. I also received a BSC award. Although my career is at its end, I still communicate with Star Wars fans from all over the world with autographs and photographs. In addition to this I have my paintings of my impressions of Star Wars.”

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I love how the Stars Wars website chose to reference 'respectable' artists that Gilbert had worked with. Good movies indeed, but the Omen was awesome! And as for The Dambusters.....

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