Classic cinematographer Gilbert Taylor passed away Friday, August 23, at the age of 99, as reported by BBC News, leaving behind an impressive filmography of incomparable importance. Taylor died at his home on the Isle of Wight in England, with his wife, Dee Taylor, and family by his side.
With a career spanning over 40 years and including films such as “Dr. Strangelove,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “The Omen” and “Star Wars,” Taylor’s contributions to the world of film are immeasurable.
Taylor was born in 1914 in Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire, and found work as a camera assistant at London’s Gainsborough Studios at the young age of 15. He then served as an officer in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during World War II, filming the aftermath of overnight raids on Germany for Winston Churchill. Taylor’s cinematography career began with 1948’s “The Outsider” starring Richard Attenborough.
After working on the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Frenzy,” Taylor — by then almost a 30-year film industry vet — began work on George Lucas’ latest film, “Star Wars,” in the 1970s. His contributions to the film, as he revealed in an interview with American Cinematographer magazine, were substantial.
“George avoided all meetings and contact with me from day one,” said Taylor. “So I read the extra-long script many times and made my own decisions as to how I would shoot the picture. I took it upon myself to experiment with photographing the lightsabers and other things onstage before we moved on to our two weeks of location work in Tunisia.”
Taylor’s contributions to cinema were honored in 2001 when he was presented with a lifetime achievement award by the British Society of Cinematographers, a group that he was also a founding member of.