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Alex Thomson BSC

We regret to announce that Alex Thomson sadly passed away on 14th June 2007. He will be sadly missed by us all.


Alex broke into motion pictures with the help of his father, a tailor who was making clothes for Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan, one of the Cineguild partnership that also included David Lean and Ronald Neame. The interview took place at the now-defunct Denham Studios and from that point Thomson was introduced to the head of the studios' camera department. Informed that there were no vacancies at that time he was advised to telephone the following week. He took the hint and, after ‘phoning Bert Easey every week for nearly two years he was told to report for work. That was in 1946. Thomson's first film as clapper boy was So Well Remembered, which was photographed by the world-renowned cinematographer Freddie Young. He stayed at Denham under the aegis of some of the best cinematographers in the industry such as Robert Krasker, Jack Hildyard and Desmond Dickinson until the studios closed in 1951. Thomson then moved to the camera department of Technicolor Ltd on 3-strip cameras, working on such diverse films as John Huston's Moulin Rouge, with Oswald Morris as cinematographer, and Richard III with Laurence Olivier acting and directing. He left Technicolor when the 3-strip system became obsolete and began as a freelance camera operator, forming a long association with the-then cinematographer – now respected director – Nicolas Roeg on films including Richard Lester's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, John Schlesinger's Far from the Madding Crowd, Richard Donner's The Caretaker and Clive Donner's Nothing but the Best. His first film as Director of Photography was Donner's Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush and he went on to photograph another 53 pictures until his retirement in 2001. During those 35 years he was to receive an Academy Award nomination for John Boorman's Excalibur and British Society of Cinematographers awards for Ridley Scott's Legend, Roeg's Eureka and Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet. He also picked up two awards at the 1997 Madridimage Festival and the President of the Polish School of Cinematography Award at Cameraimage in Lodz, Poland, all for Hamlet. He was presented with Emmy awards in the United States for the television films The Gold Bug and Skokie. Thomson has served on the board of the BSC for the past 25 years and was its President in 1981/82. In 2002 he received the society's Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding contribution to the art of cinematography. He is also proud of the fact that he was chosen by Sir David Lean to photograph Nostromo and was working on the picture at the time of Sir David's death in 1991.

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