When I first saw the initial installment of Lord of the Rings, it was remarkable how Peter Jackson was able to move the camera with the special effects, much like Robert Zemeckis did with Roger Rabbit. A big epic, and a director with vision like Jackson, needs a great cinematographer, and Andrew Lesnie was Jackson’s director of photography on the Lord of the Rings films.
Variety has reported that Lesnie has died at the age of 59, and it is a terrible loss. In addition to Lord of the Rings, Lesnie did some of the best genre cinematography in recent memory, not only with the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit series, but also on Rise of the Planet of the Apes and I Am Legend.
Jackson picked Lesnie because he directed George Miller’s Babe, the wonderful family film about a talking pig. “I thought the Babe films looked amazed, the way he’d used backlight and the sun and natural light to create a very magical effect,” Jackson said. “Babe had that larger than life feel about it that I wanted.”
Lesnie recently shot Russell Crowe’s directing debut, and he tweeted, “The master of the light genius Andrew Lesnie, has passed on.” Yet Lesnie’s wonderful magic he created with light and shadow will live on in the wonderful movies he shot for many, many years to come.