His contributions to cinema, great as they are, pale in comparison to his contributions to cinema nudity.
But the name of this blog is not Other Great Stuff. I’ll leave the encomiums to the experts, like Marty Scorsese.
From our perspective, he’s the one who directed Eva Green in The Dreamers and Maria Schneider in Last Tango in Paris. He’s the one who got a young Thandie Newton naked in Besieged and even got Debra Winger to strip in The Sheltering Sky. He managed to film nude scenes from Liv Tyler and Rachel Weisz in the same film (Stealing Beauty). And that list only scratches the surface. There’s Stefania Sandrelli, Dominique Sanda …
We owe him so much.
Enough to forgive him for Little Buddha.
UPDATE from the comment section:
The death of Nicolas Roeg should also be noted. He gave us Jenny Agutter in Walkabout, Amanda Donohoe in Castaway, the classic sex scene in Don’t Look Now, and one of the most memorable nude classics in Full Body Massage. The Man Who Fell to Earth had some memorable nudity as well. He was married to Theresa Russell and she was naked in Bad Timing. Oh yeah, he was also one of the most interesting and innovative filmmakers of all-time, though I don’t know how much I actually enjoyed his work.
Trivia: He was second-unit cinematographer on Lawrence of Arabia. He’s the second 90+ year old crew member on that film to die this year after editor Anne V. Coates passed in May.
I didn’t know how to eulogize Nic Roeg without breaking the rule about speaking ill, which is to say honestly, of the recently deceased. Roeg was a perfect illustration of the Peter Principle. He was a wonderful cinematographer, who reached his level of incompetence as a director. He had absolutely no sense of narrative or pacing, although his films always looked great because of his cinematographer’s eye. In fact, he took the rare split roles of director/cinematographer in Walkabout.
In all of his years in the film industry he was never nominated for an Oscar, and was only nominated for three BAFTAs, two of which were for cinematography. He lost all three times. To be fair, he perhaps should have received an Oscar nomination for his outstanding cinematography in Far From the Madding Crowd.
He did win the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the “Transilvania Film Society,” so we know he was huge in the vampire set! (Wikipedia says “Transilvania” is the Romanian spelling.)
As the commenter noted, there’s no disputing his contribution to screen nudity, and thanks to the internet, we don’t actually have to watch any of his boring and poorly edited movies to see the nude scenes. So, Nic, thanks for the mammaries.