One of the appreciable cinematographer of all the time is Gordon Willis. He has shot some of the most unforgettable movies in cinematic history such as The Godfather trilogy. Best well-known person for his potential to use shadow and underexposed film, Willis was a persistent associate with Francis Ford Coppola and Woody Allen. His six films on which he worked went on to receive 39 Academy Award nominations and won 19 of them. Eventually, Gordon Willis did not accept a single nomination for his work. Later, he went on to win the Academy Honorary Award for his life’s work.
His signal achievements span from his inventive use of minimal lighting and under-exposure to make mood and secret, his consummate sense of formulating, his unexcelled capability to visually emphasize the chronical thrust of a film and his re-invigoration of black-and-white cinema.
Willis has always worked on films with creative directors and strong handwriting that permit him to use his skills to the replete. When it comes to awards, Willis has had his quota of prestige. But maybe because he worked outside the Hollywood mainstream, mostly in New York, he never received any Academy Award, in spite he did get nominated twice for an Oscar — for best cinematography. Finally, he got an Oscar in 2010 for his work. And in 1995, he collects the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Cinematographers.
After doing seven films in three years, Willis made a strong intuition and immediately was working nonstop. Willis said- “My transformation into features was very simple”. “I worked with free philosopher— people who loved film. I did what I thought was right, and I never thinking about what other people thought — except for the directors; and those directors provided an environment that would make it simpler to think outside the box. It transformed my life because I met a new, wonderful group of people who didn’t look at things in the same old way.”
Willis’s last film was The Devil’s Own (1997), which was also Pakula’s last film prior his death in 1998 in a car accident. Of his opinion to retire, the laconic Willis said, “I got overtired of demanding to get actors out of trailers, and standing in the rain.”
When Willis, who used Mitchell reflex cameras and Panavision apparatus, was asked a few years ago about shooting films digitally, he replied: “The livings aren’t the same. The interpretive levels suffer. Digital is another form of recording an image, but it won’t replace thinking.”