The first film in Müpa's series presenting the work of Vilmos Zsigmond is Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the film which won the cinematographer an Oscar. To avoid any misunderstanding: by that time, he had already shot about three dozen feature films, not to mention shorts and TV films. This was no mean feat given that Zsigmond and his fellow student László Kovács left Hungary in November 1956 having filmed the events of the uprising throughout. Entering the American film business is ...no easy task, however. The Oscar thus also signals that the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences already knew and appreciated the Hungarian filmmaker, who was distinguished not merely by his professional excellence but also by his distinctive visual language. Although much is made of the special effects, it is clear that the film's visual foundations were laid by the cinematographer. The movie's images and lighting still live and breathe after four decades, leaving visual impressions that have acquired a cult value. To this day this film keeps returning to the memory to be interpreted and reinterpreted, as it meant something completely different to Americans than to European audiences, and likewise carried different meanings then and now. And, naturally, there is always the director Steven Spielberg as a reference point.
Why, when talking about films, is less mention generally made of the role of the cinematographer? How are critics able to routinely reduce assessment of their work to one or two mundane sentences? It's perfectly understandable. When we recall a visual experience, we don't talk about our eyes. And yet in cinema the lights, colours and compositions created by the cinematographer appear in such a natural way that it is as if we see them with our own eyes: when we surrender ourselves to the experience, we forget about the eye of the creator behind it.
The series is made possible with the support of the Hungarian National Film Fund.
Presented by: Müpa Budapest
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