‘Don’t Look Now’ di­rec­tor Ni­co­las Roeg dies aged 90

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Tim Robey and Cal Revely-Calder

NI­CO­LAS ROEG, the ac­claimed di­rec­tor of Don’t Look Now and The Man Who Fell to Earth, died on Fri­day night at the age of 90, his fam­ily has con­firmed.

Roeg’s ca­reer in Bri­tish film spanned more than 70 years. It took over two decades for him to be­gin di­rect­ing: at first he was renowned as a cin­e­matog­ra­pher, pro­moted to this role after his stint as a sec­ond unit cam­era­man on David Lean’s Lawrence of Ara­bia (1962).

He painted a vi­sion of pur­ga­tory in ex­tra­or­di­nary pri­mary colours for Roger Cor­man’s The Masque of the Red Death (1964), then gave John Sch­lesinger’s Far from the Madding Crowd (1967) a sweep­ing scale and grandeur.

Per­for­mance (1970) was Roeg’s di­rec­to­rial de­but. Co-di­rected by Don­ald Cam­mell, it dis­played Roeg’s pen­chant for coun­ter­cul­tural ex­cess and the cast­ing of mu­si­cal stars. Its lead ac­tor was Mick Jag­ger, and it con­tained enough vi­o­lence and sex­u­al­ity that Warner Bros held the re­lease back for two years while they over­saw a com­plete re-edit.

Roeg con­tin­ued to use off­beat mu­si­cians, as in cult favourite The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), which starred David Bowie as a hu­manoid ex­trater­res­trial, and Bad Timing (1980), in which Art Gar­funkel played an ob­ses­sive psy­chi­a­trist. He also con­tin­ued to fo­cus on sex­ual themes, of­ten in graphic de­tail.

In sub­se­quent years, Roeg’s out­put dwin­dled. De­spite the ac­co­lades that came his way, in­clud­ing a CBE in 2011, he of­ten had to play a wait­ing game for fund­ing. After The Witches (1990) and Sam­son and Delilah (1996), he only di­rected one more film: the su­per­nat­u­ral drama Puff­ball (2007).

The Bri­tish Film In­sti­tute said he “cre­ated some of the most af­fect­ing mo­ments of beauty, ter­ror and sad­ness ever seen”. Dun­can Jones, David Bowie’s son, paid tribute to a “great sto­ry­teller” who “[made] so many brave choices, and [gave] this strange lit­tle lad in pa­ja­mas an on­go­ing love of film­mak­ing.”

Roeg is sur­vived by his wife Har­riet Harper, and six chil­dren.

Di­rec­tor Ni­co­las Roeg, who has died aged 90, had a suc­cess­ful, and con­tro­ver­sial, ca­reer that spanned more than 70 years

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