The son of a well-known Hungarian soccer player Zsigmond became interested in photography at ... Read more »
Along with Laszlo Kovacs, a fellow student who also fled Hungary in 1956, Vilmos Zsigmond rose to prominence in the 1970s.
The son of a well-known Hungarian soccer player Zsigmond became interested in photography at a young age. He earned a degree from the State Academy of Motion Picture and Theatre Arts in Budapest and spent five years working at a film studio in Hungary, working his way up to director of photography. With the Russian invasion in 1956, he fled to the USA where he found work in the film industry difficult to obtain. After spending nearly seven years copying insurance documents on microfilm, operating a portrait photograph studio and working in a custom photo lab, Zsigmond landed work on independent features. Between 1963 and 1970, he shot 14 pictures under the name William Zsigmond (including the documentary "Mondo Mod" with Kovacs in 1967). He is known for his fluid camerawork and vivid use of color, often tailoring the cinematography to the specific project thereby evoking a particular mood and ambiance. Zsigmond won acclaim for his work on two Robert Altman features "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" (1971) and "the Long Goodbye" (1973), Steven Spielberg's first feature "The Sugarland Express" (1974) and his sci-fi classic "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977), which earned Zsigmond an Oscar. Zsigmond has also worked with directors John Boorman ("Deliverance" 1972) Brian De Palma ("Obsession" 1976; "Blow Out" 1980), Michael Cimino ("Heaven's Gate" 1980), Mark Rydell ("The River" 1984) and Sean Penn ("The Crossing Guard" 1995).