The legend who shot the original Star Wars has left us. Gilbert Taylor passed away today, just eight months shy of his 100th birthday. He leaves behind an unimpeachable body of work.
A veteran of the British film industry, Taylor was born April 12, 1914, in Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire in England. Joining the Royal Air Force, he served for six years as an officer in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve before becoming an operational cameraman flying in Lancaster bombers and filming the damage caused by British bombing raids. But that wasn’t the path his life was meant to take, and by 1948 he had embarked upon a career in cinematography, starting with The Guinea Pig, directed by Roy Boulting and starring Richard Attenborough.
His star rapidly rising, he was soon in-demand and a slew of projects followed. In 1955, the classic World War II film The Dam Busters, directed by Michael Anderson, became a huge hit and a family favorite in the UK.Ice Cold In Alex, starring Sir John Mills and Sylvia Sims featured quite possibly the best ever representation of a cold beer in cinema history, all lovingly set and shot by Taylor. Both The Beatles film A Hard Day’s Nightand Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb for Stanley Kubrick in 1964 were huge hits, and his work on Hitchcock’s Frenzy was highly acclaimed, as was his involvement in the classic 1976 horror The Omen. But that year also brought him into another project that would catapult both him and the rest of its cast and crew into superstardom. That film was Star Wars.