Walter Lassally (1926-2017): Award-winning cinematographer who made magic with black-and-white

The German-born Lasally won an Oscar for his camera work in the 1965 classic ‘Zorba the Greek’.

Cinematographer Walter Lassally died in Greece on Monday following complications from surgery. He was 90.

In a career that spanned five decades and over a hundred movies, Lasally shot several acclaimed films, including Tony Richardson’s Academy Award-winning Tom Jones (1963), Zorba the Greek (1965), for which Lasally won an Oscar for best black-and-white cinematography, Merchant-Ivory’s Heat and Dust (1983) and Pakistani arthouse film Jago Hua Savera (1959). Lasally also made an onscreen appearance in Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight (2013).

Zorba the Greek (1965).

Born in Berlin with Jewish ancestors, Lasally had to flee to London with his family in 1939. He then quit his studies to become a clapper boy at a studio. He began freelancing as a cameraman after the studio went bankrupt and had become associated with United Kingdom’s Free Cinema movement, which rebelled against film industry’s focus on big money and affluent people, choosing to make low-budget feels depicting social realities.

A chance meeting with Greek director Michael Cacoyannis in 1954 led to a five-film collaboration and some of Lasally’s most acclaimed work. Together, they made A Girl in Black (1956), A Matter of Dignity (1956), Our Last Spring (1960) and Zorba the Greek. The Day the Fish Came Out (1967) was the last film Lasally shot for the director, the only one of the lot that was shot in colour.

In 1965, Lassally shot Cacoyannis’s Zorba the Greek in four different locations in Crete, and fell in love with the island. The film chronicled the story of a young and straitjacketed part English part Greek writer whose life alters when he meets the free-spirited musician Alexis Zorba. Lassally eventually moved to Stavros near the city of Chania in Crete in 1998.

Apart from Richardson, Lassally also collaborated frequently with James Ivory in the 1970s and ’80s. For Ivory, he shot Savages (1972), Wild Party (1975) and The Bostonians (1984) in the US, Autobiography of a Princess (1975) in London, and Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie’s Pictures (1978) and Heat and Dust (1983) in India.

Lassally wrote his autobiography, Itinerant Cameraman. in 1987. Although he began to shoot fewer films in the latter 1980s and 1990s, Lassally remained an active photographer, and headed the camera department of the National Film and Television School in London 1988 to 1992. The last film for which he was credited as cinematographer was Crescent Heart (2001).

Heat and Dust (1983).
We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Some of the most significant innovations in automotive history made their debut in this iconic automobile

The latest version features India's first BS VI norms-compliant engine and a host of 'intelligent' features.

The S-Class, also known as Sonderklasse or special class, represents Mercedes Benz’ top-of-the-line sedan line up. Over the decades, this line of luxury vehicles has brought significant automotive technologies to the mainstream, with several firsts to its credit and has often been called the best car in the world. It’s in the S-Class that the first electronic ESP and ABS anti-lock braking system made their debut in the 20th century.

Twenty first-century driver assistance technologies which predict driver-behaviour and the vehicle’s course in order to take preventive safety measures are also now a staple of the S-Class. In the latest 2018 S-Class, the S 350 d, a 360-degree network of cameras, radars and other sensors communicate with each other for an ‘intelligent’ driving experience.

The new S-Class systems are built on Mercedes Benz’s cutting-edge radar-based driving assistance features, and also make use of map and navigation data to calculate driving behaviour. In cities and on other crowded roads, the Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC helps maintain the distance between car and the vehicle in front during speeds of up to 210 kmph. In the same speed range, Active Steering Assist helps the driver stay in the centre of the lane on stretches of straight road and on slight bends. Blind Spot Assist, meanwhile, makes up for human limitations by indicating vehicles present in the blind spot during a lane change. The new S-Class also communicates with other cars equipped with the Car-to-X communication system about dicey road conditions and low visibility due to fog, rain, accidents etc. en route.

The new S-Class can even automatically engage the emergency system when the driver is unable to raise an alarm. Active Emergency Stop Assist brings the car to a stop if it detects sustained periods of inactivity from the driver when Active Steering Assist is switched on. If the driver doesn’t respond to repeated visual and audible prompts, it automatically activates the emergency call system and unlocks the car to provide access to first responders.

The new Mercedes-Benz S 350 d in India features another notable innovation – the country’s first BS VI norms-compliant car engine, in accordance with government regulations to control vehicular pollution. Debuting two years before the BS VI deadline of 2020, the S 350 d engine also remains compatible with the current BS IV fuels.

The S 350 d is an intelligent car made in India, for Indian roads - in the Mercedes Benz S-Class tradition. See the video below to know what drives the S-Class series by Mercedes Benz.

To know more about the 2018 S-Class, click here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Mercedes Benz and not by the Scroll editorial team.