Legendary Cinematographer Of ‘Godfather’ Trilogy Dies At 82

Boston University, College of Communication, 2004.

Gordon Willis drops in on my cinematography class, my students unaware of his pending visit.

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We were in the second half of the semester, when each student chose a scene to recreate.  Just so happened it was the eve one lucky student was recreating a scene from The Godfather, the scene when Michael is driven to the Cafe for a hit.

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Gordon hung around the back of the studio, behind the camera.  He quietly interacted with students while the scene was set.  Some students had run to the store and bought DVDs of The Godfather, which Gordon happily autographed.  I mentioned to him that he didn’t have to hang around for the entire 3 hour class; he did.  “I’ve been in classrooms all day,” he responded, “it’s good to be back in the studio.”

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When the setup was finished, all eyes turned to Gordon to find out how he actually created the scene.  “Pretty much the same, only we used  Lowell clip lights instead”.

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This was the man we all studied, both his cinematographic and professional style influenced us.  He taught us to push the envelope, to fight for our ideas.

It was an honor to meet the man and have him grace our little studio…

RIP Gordon Willis.