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Oscar-winning Norfolk director dies

PUBLISHED: 15:18 23 April 2009 | UPDATED: 09:08 06 July 2010

Jack Cardiff, pictured in Great Yarmouth in 2004 when he visited the town's film festival.

Jack Cardiff, pictured in Great Yarmouth in 2004 when he visited the town's film festival.

A double Oscar winning Yarmouth director and cinematographer who died at the age of 94 has been described as a cinematic genius and legend. Jack Cardiff, who was born in the resort in 1914.

A double Oscar winning Yarmouth director and cinematographer who died at the age of 94 has been described as a cinematic genius and legend.

Jack Cardiff, who was born in the resort in September 1914 to his entertainer parents, worked with countless Hollywood stars on classic films such as the Red Shoes, A Matter of Life and Death and the African Queen.

He won an Oscar for his ground breaking colour cinematography on the 1947 film Black Narcissus and worked with legendary directors Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

In 1937 Mr Cardiff shot the first film in Britain to be made in Technicolor - The Wings of the Morning.

Mr Cardiff went on to direct The Girl on a Motorcycle starring Marianne Faithfull and the Scent on Mystery - the first film to be made in so called “smell-o-vision”.

He was made an OBE in 2000 and a given special Oscar for his 70 year contribution to the world of film.

Mr Cardiff died on Wednesday at his Cambridgeshire home surrounded by his family.

In 2004 Mr Cardiff, aged 90, returned to his Yarmouth roots to appear at the first night of the town's inaugural film festival - which screened the 1946 David Niven film a Matter of Life and Death.

During the festival Mr Cardiff visited the Hippodrome Circus and gave a 30 minute master class on cinematographer at the Hollywood Cinema.

Hippodrome owner Peter Jay said: “He was a fantastic character and it is a shame to hear he has gone. He was a genius in the world of cinematography and it is great loss to the British film industry.”

During the festival Norfolk actor Stephen Fry presented Mr Cardiff with a film canister containing some of the 90-year-old's work.

At the time Mr Fry said: “One of the first films I remember seeing and actually remembering was a matter of Life and Death.

“It absolutely fascinated me. Looking back I realise it was the tremendous cinematography of it.

“We all remember the great film stars but few realise the extraordinary importance of people like Jack Cardiff in world cinema.”

As a four-year-old Mr Cardiff appeared in the 1918 silent film My Son and he appeared on stage many times before working behind the camera.

In 1928 he worked on his first film - Informer. At the tail end of his career he worked as cinematography on Conan the Destroyer and Rambo II. The last film he worked on was the Dance of Shiva in 1998.

British Film Institute director Amanda Nevill said: “Jack Cardiff was a legend. He was a world-class cinematographer who pioneered the techniques of shooting in Technicolor.

“He made a unique contribution to some of the greatest films ever made.”

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