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Owen Roizman, ‘French Connection’ cinematographer, dies at 86



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5-time Oscar nominated cinematographer Owen Roizman, who shot landmark movies together with “The French Connection,” “The Exorcist,” “Community” and “Tootsie,” has died. He was 86.

The American Society of Cinematographers confirmed Saturday that Roizman had died after a protracted sickness.

New York-born Roizman, who died at his house in Los Angeles, was given an honorary Oscar for his profession achievements in 2017, having retired from the movie enterprise within the Nineties with out but taking house one of many Academy of Movement Image Arts and Sciences gold statuettes, regardless of the a number of nominations.

Roizman was identified for his collaborations with Sydney Pollack and William Friedkin. His movie work included “Play It Once more, Sam,” “The Heartbreak Child,” “Three Days of the Condor” and “Wyatt Earp.”

He obtained his first Oscar nomination for 1971’s “The French Connection” — his second movie — which starred Gene Hackman as a violent police detective. After filming the influential Friedkin-directed neo-noir crime thriller, together with its famed automotive chase sequence, Roizman turned identified for his “gritty” documentary type, a designation he discovered amusing, given the big variety of genres wherein he excelled.

“Instantly after ‘The French Connection,’ I bought labeled as a gritty New York avenue photographer, which I believed was very humorous as a result of I had by no means shot something like ‘The French Connection’ earlier than that,” Roizman instructed the Los Angeles Instances in a 2017 interview. “I bought a kick out of that. My main aim was all the time simply to serve the story and to inform the story visually one of the simplest ways I knew how.”

Roizman, born in Brooklyn on Sept. 22, 1936, grew up with camerawork in his blood.

His father, Sol, was a cinematographer for Fox Movietone Information. His uncle Morrie was a movie editor. After graduating from Gettysburg Faculty in Pennsylvania, he started his profession as an assistant cameraman in commercials and labored his approach as much as cinematographer.

He bought his break in a low-budget 1970 movie, “Cease,” that was seen by nearly nobody — aside from some key folks — Friedkin and “The French Connection’s” producer Phil D’Antoni, who preferred his work.

“The French Connection” was notable for its use of obtainable outside gentle, giving it its real-life really feel. The seminal chase scene veers via the imply streets of New York as hard-nosed Det. Popeye Doyle (an Oscar-winning Hackman) commandeers a civilian automotive and tries to maintain up with the hit man who’s trying an escape on an elevated prepare.

“It was executed in two alternative ways,” Roizman told The Times in 2011. “Three cameras had been used contained in the automotive, together with a digicam on the dashboard that might look out via the windshield and one over the motive force’s shoulder. From the surface, we had 5 cameras. We broke it down to 5 stunts, and the remainder of it was simply bits and items. For every of the stunts we had 5 cameras arrange at completely different angles to cowl all of it.”

Roizman told American Cinematographer that “the most important downside there was making an attempt to match as a result of the sunshine was altering continuously. As we’d run alongside the monitor, one other prepare would cross and block out the sunshine. Or we’d go between tall buildings and that might minimize down the sunshine in the midst of a scene.”

His work on Friedkin’s 1973 movie, “The Exorcist,” is remembered for bringing a lived-in realism to the supernatural horror style.

One of many challenges of filming the climatic exorcism scene was to convey the freezing temperature of the kid’s bed room by getting the actors’ breath to show onscreen, he mentioned to American Cinematographer.

To get the plausible impact, the filmmakers created a duplicate of the room and refrigerated it.

“A system was developed that might refrigerate the room rapidly to any temperature from zero to twenty beneath,” Roizman mentioned. “The breath confirmed up effective at zero, however Friedkin needed the actors to actually really feel the chilly as a result of he felt that might assist their performing. An actor on his knees for quarter-hour at 20 beneath zero is admittedly going to really feel chilly. It labored out very nicely.”

The movie earned Roizman his second Oscar nod.

He moved from New York to Los Angeles in 1976, later establishing his personal TV business manufacturing firm, Roizman & Associates.

His different Oscar-nominated work spanned a number of many years, together with Sidney Lumet’s TV information satire “Community” (1976), Pollack’s Dustin Hoffman comedy “Tootsie” (1982) and Lawrence Kasdan’s Western “Wyatt Earp” (1994). “The French Connection,” “The Exorcist,” “Community” and “Tootsie” had been all nominated for finest image as nicely. “The French Connection” gained.

In 1997, he obtained a lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Cinematographers.

He mentioned he by no means regretted turning down any movie — even “Jaws,” the industry-changing Steven Spielberg summer time blockbuster from 1975.

“We spoke for perhaps three hours on the telephone, and I actually preferred him — and I nonetheless to at the present time love the man,” Roizman mentioned. “However what he didn’t know is that I used to be considering to myself the entire time, as he was describing the story to me, ‘Jesus, a shark terrorizing a city on Lengthy Island — which means happening a ship so much.’ I get seasick. In order that didn’t sound too inviting to me. So I turned it down actually for that purpose.”

He’s survived by his spouse, Mona Lindholm and his son, Eric Roizman, who pursued his personal profession behind the digicam, engaged on “Wyatt Earp” along with his father, along with different photos.