RIP Michael Ballhaus (1935-2017) - German cinematographer best known for his collaborations with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Martin Scorsese and Mike Nichols passed away yesterday at age 81. The three-time Oscar nominated director of photography began his career in 1959 with a TV movie. In Germany, it was his association with Fassbinder that brought him acclaim and public perception with 15 films together, including Whitty (1971), Beware a Holy Whore (1971), The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (1972), World on a Wire (1973), Martha (1974), Fox and his Friends (1975),
Mother Küsters’ Trip to Heaven
(1975), Satan’s Brew (1976), Despair (1978), Chinese Roulette (1978),
The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979) and Lili Marleen (1981).
His career in America started with Dear Mr. Wonderful (1982) and Baby It’s You (1983) but it was with the partnership with Scorsese that made him a more recognisable and important name in photography, beginning in After Hours (1985). They also worked in The Color of Money (1986), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), the elaborated shots of Goodfellas (1990) going through hallways without cuts, The Age of Innocence (1993), Gangs of New York (2002) and The Departed (2006), which was Ballhaus final major film work. Other works include: Under the Cherry Moon (1986) - to which he directed a few sequences without credit, Broadcast News (1987) - his first Oscar nomination; Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), Working Girl (1988), The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) - 2nd Oscar nod; Postcards from the Edge (1990), Guilty by Suspicion (1991), The Mambo Kings (1992), the exuberance of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), Quiz Show (1994), Outbreak (1995), Sleepers (1996), Air Force One (1997), Primary Colors (1998), Wild Wild West (1998), The Legend of Beggar Vance (2000), Something’s Gotta Give (2003) and 3096 (2013), his last work. He’s father of cinemaographer/camera operator Florian Ballhaus and assistant director Jan Sebastian Ballhaus, and nephew of actor Carl Ballhaus who appeared in M (1931).
A genius of speed, movement and light, Ballhaus was a true versatile cinematographer during his day, embracing several genres and styles. One who’ll be missed.
Jeff Brigdes’ name on the screen, appreciation post. From some of his iconic roles: The Last Picture Show (1971), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), Starman (1984), Against All Odds (1985), Tron (1982), Tron Legacy (2010), The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), Fearless (1993), The Fisher King (1991), The Big Lebowski (1998).