If you’ve seen even one frame of The Innocents, you know that it’s one of the best shot films in Hollywood history…screen so wide it seems to go on forever, every nook and cranny expressively crammed or drained, always reflective of its characters’ inner torments and external fears. The film’s brilliant director of photography, Freddie Francis, Academy Award winner for 1960’s DH Lawrence adaptation Sons and Lovers and 1989’s Glory, has died this week at age ninety. With a distinctive and varied career as both a cinematographer of some of the world’s best loved, most visually memorable films of the British New Wave (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Room at the Top) and beyond (The Elephant Man, The French Lieutenant’s Woman), and as a director in his own right for Hammer Films and then at the Hammer-esque horror production company Amicus (Torture Garden, Tales from the Crypt), Francis proved himself one of our most adept film stylists. I’m unlikely to ever forget those shattering final moments in the The Innocents‘ gothic statue garden, the opening drift down from the tree brances of The Straight Story, or even Robert DeNiro’s lightning and fire-streaked face as he blathers in tongues at the end of Cape Fear.
Some images to remember.