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