Andrew Lesnie, ‘Lord of the Rings’ Cinematographer, Passes Away at Age 59
The film world lost one of its great artists on Monday when Andrew Lesnie, the cinematographer on all six of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, passed away following a sudden heart attack. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lesnie was 59 years old.
Born and raised in Australia, Lesnie formed a relationship with Jackson on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the King, which won him an Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Lesnie returned for The Two Towers and The Return of the King, as well as the three Hobbit movies, An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug, and The Battle of the Five Armies. Lesnie’s work created a consistent visual continuity between all six films, and he deserves an enormous amount of credit for helping to create one of the most convincing fantasy worlds in film history.
Seamlessly working special effects into a story was a specialty of Lesnie’s, one he also deployed in great films like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and the wonderful children’s movies Babe and Babe: Pig in the City. His final film as cinematographer was Russell Crowe’s just-released directorial debut The Water Diviner. This was Crowe’s reaction to the news of Lesnie’s passing on Twitter:
Peter Jackson posted his own remembrance of Lesnie on his Facebook page:
Dearest Andrew, you never sought nor wanted praise - you never needed to hear how good you were, you only ever cared about doing great work and respecting the work of others. But on behalf of all those who were lucky enough to collaborate with you, love you and in turn, respect your mastery of story, of light and of cinema magic - you are one of the great cinematographers of our time.
Lesnie’s career spanned more than three decades; he worked as a documentary cameraman on The Road Warrior and on other Australian productions before he graduated to a full-fledged director of photography in his own right. His contributions to film world are immeasurable, and his work will be enjoyed for generations to come. He will be greatly missed.