Allen Daviau obit

Allen Daviau, a cinematographer whose work includes E.T.Empire of the Sun, Bugsy, and more, has died at the age of 77 due to complications from the coronavirus. Daviau had a long-standing relationship with Steven Spielberg, having worked with the director on his short films, including 1968’s Amblin’. He would go on to shoot four feature films for Spielberg.

He may not be as big a household name as some cinematographers, but Allen Daviau left his mark. Daviau met Steven Spielberg in 1967, and would eventually shoot several feature films for the filmmaker: E.T.Twilight Zone: The MovieThe Color Purple, and Empire of the Sun. Daviau’s other credits include Harry and the HendersonsBusyFearlessThe Falcon and the SnowmanDefending Your LifeCongo, and more. His final credit was on Van Helsing.

Empire of the Sun

Kees van Oostrum, president of the American Society of Cinematographers, released this statement about Daviau’s death:

“It is with great regret and sadness that I have to announce the passing last night of my friend and a great member of the society, Mr. Allen Daviau, ASC. Allen started his career shooting the early movies of Stephen Spielberg, including Amblin (1968), and went on to an impressive career as a cinematographer with movies that have deeply inspired us all. He was honored with 5 Academy Award nominations, was bestowed our Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 and won our Outstanding  ASC Achievement in Cinematography for Bugsy (1991) and Empire of the Sun (1987). He amassed an impressive body of work: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), The Color Purple (1985), and Avalon (1990), just to mention a few.

Allen was active in our society in many ways like chairing our membership committee for several years. Also, his commitment to teaching our craft and being very accessible for young cinematographers will forever be engraved in our memories. He will be remembered fondly for his sense of humor, his taste for the best of foods and his laugh that unmistakably marked his presence from far away.”

E.T.

When asked how he got into cinematography, Daviau replied:

“When I was 12 years old, I saw color television for the first time. It was a brand new thing and I said I have to find out how that works. It led me into a whole series of studies—reading, going to the library and then gate crashing at television studios and then movie studios. The more I learned, the more I realized I had to learn more about photography. The more I learned about photography, the more fascinated I was with the cinematographer, the director of photography and what that job was. I figured, by the time I was 16 years old, that it was the best job in the world. I never stopped thinking that, and it’s been one of those things that has been a delight to accomplish.”

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