It is impossible to imagine the world of Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy (and "The Hobbit" films that would follow) without the stunning cinematography by Australian Andrew Lesnie, who has passed away from a heart attack at the age of 59. Lesnie won the Oscar for his camera work on "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring", and the look of that film would define epic fantasy storytelling for the next decade and a half. What we have come to associate with Jackson's aesthetic owes much credit to Lesnie, who also shot "King Kong" and "The Lovely Bones" for the Oscar-winning filmmaker. His final film is in theaters now, Russell Crowe's "The Water Diviner".
Ron Johanson, the national president of the Australian Society of Cinematographers, broke the news on Facebook: "It is with overwhelming sadness that I inform you of the passing of our dear friend and colleague Andrew Lesnie ACS ASC, who after suffering a serious heart condition over the last six months died suddenly on Monday, 27 April. Words cannot express the absolute feeling of loss, particularly for his immediate family. Andrew gave us many personal cinema moments, moments that will live with us forever, and yet he has been taken from us way too early, and we are now left with those memories.”
Lesnie's legacy extended far out of Middle Earth, redefining much of the way the modern blockbuster looks. He also shot "Babe" and "Babe: Pig in the City" for George Miller, and was the director of photography on "I Am Legend" and "Rise of the Planet of the Apes". He was a master and his influence will be felt for decades to come. Our deepest condolences go out to his friends and family. A few expressions of grief from Twitter:
Devastating news from home. The master of the light, genius Andrew Lesnie has passed on .— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) April 28, 2015
We lost one of the greats in film today, Andrew Lesnie. Thoughts and prayers to his family.— Hugh Jackman (@RealHughJackman) April 28, 2015
Such sad news to hear the passing of Andrew Lesnie. The world of cinematography just lost a brilliant craftsman and artist.— James Wan (@creepypuppet) April 28, 2015