It’s with deepest sadness that we learn of the passing of Walter Lassally BSC. Walter was the former Head of Cinematography at the NFTS between 1988 and 1992, and won an Oscar in 1964 for his beautiful black and white photography on Zorba The Greek.
Walter was born in Berlin and moved to England in 1939 to flee the Nazis. Wanting to get into films himself, Walter abandoned his studies and took a job as clapper boy at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith. When the studio went bankrupt, he began freelancing as a cameraman. Throughout his career he became known for trying new techniques and being associated with the Free Cinema and British New Wave movements. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this sad time.
(Alan Bates and Irene Papas in Zorba the Greek, 1964. Photograph: Fox/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock)
Current Co-head of Cinematography, Stuart Harris, who worked for Walter for a number of years, reflects on the man and his passing:
“I learned today of the passing of a man I consider to be my surrogate father and possibly the finest boss you could work for, Walter Lassley. He was quite simply a pioneer in the world of cinematography and in my opinion, he should have won an Oscar for Tom Jones. Instead he won the last black and white cinematography Oscar for Zorba The Greek. He broke rules, he stood his ground, he made shooting on location possible where others said not. He didn't suffer fools and could be the most cantankerous self-opinionated person you ever met, but to his crew he was generous, nurturing, loyal and above all made sure the evening meal wherever we were in the world was to be savoured. I loved him and will miss him very much. R.I.P True Legend Walter Lassally.”