This post continues excerpts from a tribute to the late, great Gordon Willis, ASC, that I organized with Stephen Pizzello at Camerimage last November, with comments by ASC members Caleb Deschanel, Ed Lachman, Matthew Libatique and Vilmos Zsigmond. My friend Stephen is both Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the American Cinematographer, and has also recently finished writing a book about Gordon.
This second post focuses on the wonderful cinematography of The Godfather. If you haven’t read the first post about Klute, I encourage you to do so before reading this one.
Because of a prior commitment, Caleb was absent from the discussion about Klute, but he was able to join us for this portion of the tribute.
Marlon Brando as Don Vito in The Godfather, 1972
During the tribute to Gordon Willis at Camerimage, we screened excerpts from The Godfather, 1972, and The Godfather Part II, 1974. These two films by Francis Ford Coppola are landmarks in world cinema. The two films re-invented the gangster genre, and contributed to the New Wave of American film in the 1970s. Both met with great critical and commercial success.
Like many masterpieces, these films have it all: engaging scripts, incredible actors, masterful directing, memorable music, evocative art direction… And then there is Gordon Willis’ extraordinary cinematography that combines restrained compositions and movements with gutsy, revolutionary lighting.
The Godfather was nominated for 11 Oscars. Amazingly, neither film was nominated for cinematography, proof perhaps that Gordon’s approach was too radically different from the conventions of the day to be recognized.
Continue reading ‘Gordon Willis Tribute – THE GODFATHER’