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


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

The American Society of Cinematographers confirmed Saturday that Roizman had died after an extended sickness.

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

Roizman was recognized for his collaborations with Sydney Pollack and William Friedkin. His movie work included “Play It Again, Sam,” “The Heartbreak Kid,” “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 recognized for his “gritty” documentary type, a designation he discovered amusing, given the wide range of genres by which he excelled.

“Immediately after ‘The French Connection,’ I got labeled as a gritty New York street photographer, which I thought was very funny because I had never shot anything like ‘The French Connection’ before that,” Roizman informed the Los Angeles Times in a 2017 interview. “I got a kick out of that. My primary goal was always just to serve the story and to tell the story visually the best way I knew how.”

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

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

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

“The French Connection” was notable for its use of accessible outside gentle, giving it its real-life really feel. The seminal chase scene veers by 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 practice.

“It was done in two different ways,” Roizman informed The Times in 2011. “Three cameras were used inside the car, including a camera on the dashboard that would look out through the windshield and one over the driver’s shoulder. From the outside, we had five cameras. We broke it down to five stunts, and the rest of it was just bits and pieces. For each of the stunts we had five cameras set up at different angles to cover it all.”

Roizman informed American Cinematographer that “the biggest problem there was trying to match because the light was changing constantly. As we’d run along the track, another train would pass and block out the light. Or we’d go between tall buildings and that would cut down the light in the middle of a scene.”

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

One of the 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 indicate onscreen, he stated to American Cinematographer.

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

“A system was developed that could refrigerate the room quickly to any temperature from zero to 20 below,” Roizman stated. “The breath showed up fine at zero, but Friedkin wanted the actors to really feel the cold because he felt that would help their acting. An actor on his knees for 15 minutes at 20 below zero is really going to feel cold. It worked out very well.”

The movie earned Roizman his second Oscar nod.

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

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

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

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

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“We spoke for maybe three hours on the phone, and I really liked him — and I still to this day love the guy,” Roizman stated. “But what he didn’t know is that I was thinking to myself the whole time, as he was describing the story to me, ‘Jesus, a shark terrorizing a town on Long Island — that means going on a boat a lot.’ I get seasick. So that didn’t sound too inviting to me. So I turned it down really for that reason.”

He is survived by his spouse, Mona Lindholm and his son, Eric Roizman, who pursued his personal profession behind the digital camera, engaged on “Wyatt Earp” along with his father, along with different footage.


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