Saturday, 24 August 2013

Cinematographer Gilbert Taylor Passes On

Gilbert Taylor, the cinematographer who worked on such films as A Hard Day's Night (1964), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), died on 23 August 2013 at the age of 99.

Gilbert Taylor was born on 12 April 1914 in Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire. In 1929 he became a camera assistant with Gainsborough Studios. His first credited work was on the film Rookery Nook in 1930, on which he served as a camera assistant. For the next several years he served as a camera assistant on such films as Third Time Lucky (1931), Many Waters (1931), Nell Gwyn (1934), Turn of the Tide (1935), Escape Me Never (1935), and The Lambeth Walk (1939).

During World War II Gilbert Taylor served in the Royal Air Force, where he served as a cameraman documenting the damage caused by British bombing raids over Germany. Following World War II Mr. Taylor returned to work, serving as associate director of photography on Journey Together (1945) and a camera operator on School for Secrets (1946), Fame is the Spur (1947), Brighton Rock (1947), and My Brother Jonathan (1948). His first credit as a full fledged cinematographer was on The Guinea Pig (1948). He served as director of photography on Seven Days to Noon (1950).

In the Fifties Gilbert Taylor served as cinematographer on such films as Circle of Danger (1951), High Treason (1951), Single-Handed (1953), Front Page Story (1954), The Weak and the Wicked (1954), As Long as They're Happy (1955), Yield to the Night (1956), The Good Companions (1957), Ice Cold in Alex (1958), Bottoms Up (1960), and The Full Treatment (1960). He provided special effects photography for The Dam Busters (1955).

The Sixties would arguably be the height of Giblert Taylor's career, as he served as cinematographer on such classic films as Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), A Hard Day's Night (1964), Repulsion (1965), and Cul-de-sac (1966).  He also served as cinematographer on such films as The Rebel (1961), It's Trad, Dad! (1962), Hide and Seek (1964), Ferry Cross the Mersey (1965), The Bedford Incident (1965), The Man Outside (1967), Before Winter Comes (1969), and A Nice Girl Like Me (1969). He also served as cinematographer on episodes of The Avengers and The Baron, and provided additional photography for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). He also directed an episode of Department S.

In the Seventies Gilbert Taylor served as cinematographer on such films as The Tragedy of Macbeth (1971), Frenzy (1972), Soft Beds, Hard Battles (1974), The Omen (1976), Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), Escape to Athena (1979), Meetings with Remarkable Men (1979), Dracula (1979), and Flash Gordon (1980). He was also cinematographer on episodes of The Pathfinders. In the Eighties he worked on such films as Green Ice (1981), Venom (1981) Losin' It (1983), Lassiter (1984), and The Bedroom Window (1987). His last film work was in the 1994 film Don't Get Me Started.

If Gilbert Taylor is one of the greatest cinematographers of all time, it is perhaps because he had a gift for choosing a look specific to each film he shot. His work on A Hard Day's Night is a perfect example. He shot The Beatles' first film in the documentary style then popular with both the French and British New Wave filmmakers, lending a bit of reality to an at times surreal film. He gave The Omen a soft, dream like look, as befitting its somewhat nightmarish plot. He gave Repulsion a stark look, with wide angle shots and lighting to capture the film's mood. Each of Gilbert Taylor's films looked different from the others, and each one had its own look tailored specifically to it. What is more, Mr. Taylor had a knack for creating just the right sort of photography that would fit any given film. While the writing, direction, and acting might not be up to par in the films on which Gilbert Taylor worked, his cinematography was always top notch.

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