Friday, 14 October 2016

Wolfgang Suschitzky R.I.P.

Photographer and cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky died on October 7 2016 at the age of 104.

Wolfgang Suschitzky was born in Vienna on August 29 1912. His passion was zoology, but he could not make a living as a zoologist in Austria. He then followed his sister Edith (who would become famous herself as Edith Tudor-Hart) into the field of photography. He attended  the Höhere Graphische Bundes-Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt in Vienna. In 1934, with Nazism on the rise, Mr. Suschitzky left Austria for Amsterdam. Among other things, there he took pictures for postcards for newsagents for a few months. It was in Amsterdam that he met Helena Voûte, called "Puck". The two married and opened a photography studio together there, but the marriage would not last. In 1935 Wolfgang Suschitzky moved to London. In the United Kingdom Mr. Suschitzky made a name for himself photographing places in the city of London. His interest in zoology would be reflected in many of the photographs of animals he took throughout his career. In fact, his first exhibition in London in 1940 consisted of his pictures of animals. That same year he published his first book Photographing Children, followed by his second book, Photographing Animals, in 1941. In 1956 he provided photographs for the book The Kingdom of the Beasts by Julian Huxley.

It was in the Forties that Wolfgang Suschitzky began his collaboration with documentary producer and director Paul Rotha. His first work with Mr. Rotha was the short "Life Begins Again" in 1942. Over the next few years he worked with Mr. Rotha on the shorts "Defeat Tuberculosis" (1943), "World of Plenty" (1943), "Children of the City" (1944), and  "New Builders" (1944). He also provided cinematography for many other documentary shorts in the Forties and Fifties.

The Fifties saw Wolfgang Suschitzky begin work in narrative feature films, beginning with Paul Rotha's No Resting Place in 1951. In the Fifties he also worked on the films The Oracle (1953) and Cat and Mouse (1958), as well as the TV shows The New Adventures of Charlie Chan and The Invisible Man and several documentary shorts.

In the Sixties he worked on the films Den hvide hingst (1961), The Small World of Sammy Lee (1963), Sands of Beersheba (1964), Ulysses (1967), The Vengeance of She (1968), Ring of Bright Water (1969), and Entertaining Mr. Sloane (1970), as well as several documentaries and shorts.

In the Seventies Mr. Suschitzky worked on the films Get Carter (1971), Some Kind of Hero (1972), Living Free (1972), A Better Mousetrap (1973), Theatre of Blood (1973), Moments (1974), and Falling in Love Again (1980). He worked on the TV series Worzel Gummidge, as well as several documentaries and shorts.

In the Eighties Wolfgang Suschitzky worked on the films The Young Visiters (1984), The Chain (1984), Claudia (1985), and Riders to the Sea (1987).

As both a photographer and a cinematographer, Wolfgang Suschitzky tend towards naturalism. His photographs were almost always shot with natural lighting and without any flourishes. His ability to find art in natural settings proved not only to serve him well in shooting documentaries, but in narrative films as well. Many of the films Mr. Suschitzky shot had the look of cinéma vérité, particularly Get Carter. Wolfgang Suschitzky was not only very talented when it came to naturalistic photography, but he was also very adaptable as well. The films upon which he worked ranged from action thrillers (Get Carter) to horror movies (Theatre of Blood) to comedies (The Oracle) to dramas (Ulysses). As both a photographer and cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky was a most singular talent.

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