The magnificent career of Hungarian-born cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond resulted in his ranking among the 10 most influential cinematographers in film history in a survey conducted by the International Cinematographers Guild. He was awarded an Oscar for his achievements on “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and a nominee for “The Deer Hunter,” “The River” (1984) and the “The Black Dahlia” (2006).

Blow Out

The recipe for this is two parts Antonioni’s Blow Up and one part Coppola’s The Conversation. Sound man (John Travolta) witnesses and accidentally records what may be the assassination of a president hopeful then suddenly finds himself in danger. An unsettling story about a one-man pursuit against rampant political corruption. 

De Palma’s film’s are known for their strong sense of visual style but even by this standard Blow Up is unique. The cinematographer was Vilmos Zsigmond, who’s other collaborations with De Palma include ObsessionBonfire of the Vanities and The Black Dahlia.

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Scarecrow

Contrary to rumours that this is second-string American new wave, this Pacino-Hackman double-hander is a freewheeling masterpiece. Gene Hackman and Al Pacino giving the performances of their lives as two drifters who team up in the hope of setting up a carwash business in Pittsburgh.

It’s a wonderfully muted performance from Pacino. The guys ride the boxcars; they get drunk and laid and into trouble. They even wind up in prison – briefly. And their chaotic, fragile friendship is all that they have. This is a jewel of American cinema.  Peter Bradshaw  The Guardian

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The Deer Hunter

The Deer Hunter is a three-hour masterpiece, winner of five Academy Awards, in three major movements. It is the story of a group of friends  (Robert De NiroJohn Savage and Christopher Walken) and the record of how the war in Vietnam entered several lives and altered them terribly forever.

The Deer Hunter is said to be about many subjects: about male bonding, about mindless patriotism, about the dehumanizing effects of war, about Nixon’s “silent majority.”  Not once does anyone question the war or his participation in it: This passivity may be the real horror at the centre of American life, and more significant than any number of hope‐filled tales about raised political consciousness. What are these veterans left with? The big answers elude them, as do the big questions.

‘The film has been stunningly photographed by Vilmos Zsigmond, who provides visually a continuity that is sometimes lacking in the rest of the movie.” New York Times.

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The Hired Hand

Peter Fonda followed Easy Rider with this understated western, his directorial debut. Fonda stars as a reluctant gunslinger who returns home and attempts to reconnect with the wife he left behind many years ago (a show-stealing Verna Bloom). Unusual in its sensitive depiction of a woman’s life in the old west, the film also features memorable supporting performances from Warren Oates and Severn Darden. Zsmigmond’s lyrical landscape photography combines with the score from Bruce Langhorn (Bob Dylan’s ‘Mr Tambourine Man’), and the film’s languorous crossfades, resulting in a gently psychedelic, pastoral vision of the past.

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