Nicolas Roeg, Director of ‘Don’t Look Now’, Dies at 90
No list of the best horror films of all time is complete without Don't Look Now, the haunting and disturbing 1973 film about a married couple after the death of their young daughter. (Here's a list by The Guardian from 2010 that ranks it #3 ever.) Sadly, the man who made that great movie along with many others has died. The BBC reports that Nicolas Roeg passed away on Friday night. He was 90 years old.
Don't Look Now remains Roeg's most famous film, but he produced many influential movies over a long career. He slowly worked his way up from assistant to camera operator to cinematographer; he shot second unit on Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. His breakthrough, according to the BBC, was as director of photography for Roger Corman on his Edgar Allan Poe film The Masque of the Red Death:
Corman was gaining a reputation for spotting and developing new talent and boosted the careers of other future directors including James Cameron and Martin Scorsese. Interestingly the red-clad figure in the Corman film foreshadowed a similarly dressed character in Roeg's masterpiece, Don't Look Now.
His first film as director was Performance (co-directed with Donald Cammell), which was also Mick Jagger's acting debut and remains a cult film to this day. Next came Walkabout, an international cult hit about two children stranded in the Australian outback. Two years later came Don't Look Now. To this day, people still talk about the movie's famous sex scene thanks to its scrambled chronology, explicit content, and the intimacy between the two actors, Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. Their chemistry was so good that rumors persisted for years that they had really had sex on camera.
Roeg followed up Don't Look Now with another classic: The science-fiction film The Man Who Fell to Earth, starring rock star David Bowie as an alien who crash lands on our planet, looking for water he can bring back to his home.
Roeg worked with another rock star, Art Garfunkel, on Bad Timing, and continued directing steadily through the 1980s. In 1990, he teamed with Jim Henson Productions to make an adaptation of Roald Dahl's novel The Witches starring Anjelica Huston.
Roeg was one of the all-time great cult directors. He followed his own interests, and rarely compromised his beliefs in order to appeal to commercial tastes. That's precisely why his bold, unconventional movies have endured this long, and will continue to endure many years from now. There's nothing else quite like them.