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Vilmos Zsigmond

Getty Images / Photo by Chad Buchanan

Vilmos Zsigmond

Cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, who won an Academy Award for his achievements in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” has died at 85, according to Variety. His business partner Yuri Neyman said he died Jan. 1 of a combination of several illnesses.

His other outstanding movies included “Deliverance,” “Blow Out,” “The Ghost and the Darkness” and such Robert Altman films as “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” and “The Long Goodbye.”

He continued to work until 2014, recently shooting some episodes of the Fox TV sitcom “The Mindy Project.” Zsigmond ranked among the 10 most influential cinematographers in film history in a 2003 survey conducted by the International Cinematographers Guild.


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Escaping from his native Hungary after the 1956 Russian invasion, Zsigmond started out in Hollywood working on low-budget exploitation films. After a decade, he finally got his break in Robert Altman’s film “McCabe,” in which he used a limited palette of desaturated colors, giving the Western an unconventional and melancholy look.

For the next two decades, Zsigmond was one of the most in-demand cinematographers in Hollywood, going on to work with such directors as Michael Cimino, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma and George Miller.

He picked up an Oscar nomination for “The Deer Hunter” (1979), which he considered one of his greatest accomplishments.

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