Middle-earth’s “master of light” Passes Away …

Andrew Lesnie

Andrew Lesnie (1956-2015)

What looked like the start of a positive and optimistic day, soon turned into a melancholic struggle.

Andrew Lesnie, the master cinematographer whose indispensable contribution brought Middle-earth to life, passed away earlier today.

To general audiences the names of actors and directors are perhaps at the forefront of a film-viewing experience.

To someone like me who loves the technical aspects of filmmaking, the work of every major crew member behind the camera is of deep interest.

As with many others, I was introduced to Andrew Lesnie and his work via The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Suffice to say, the impressive visuals captivated my young mind and made me believe in the wonders of Middle-earth.

Peter Jackson may have had the vision and direction, but Lesnie brought the artistry to the moving images.

Andrew Lesnie and Peter Jackson

As a result of this, he was rightfully handed the Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 2002, for The Fellowship of the Ring.

My love for the trilogy’s cinematography – undoubtedly enhanced by the greatness of the films themselves – was certainly not the only example.

Lesnie went on to prove his mastery of the art in other films, not least Jackson’s further projects: King KongThe Lovely Bones and The Hobbit trilogy.

But his career went beyond his collaborations with Jackson, with an impressive résumé including: Babe, I Am Legend, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Water Diviner …

The list is endless.

Hobbits hiding from Nazgul

Exquisite cinematography. Cinematic history in the making.


Russell Crowe, in a Twitter post, perfectly dubbed Lesnie as “master of the light”.

Peter Jackson himself, posting on his Facebook page, considered him as “a brother” .

He was truly exceptional; not only in his work, but the behind the scenes footage from his films have offered us a glimpse of his dedication, outgoing character and bubbly personality.

A few days ago I saw his final work in Crowe’s The Water Diviner.

I couldn’t help but smile as I read his name in the opening credits: it was a guaranteed reassurance that visually the film wouldn’t disappoint.

It certainly didn’t. It stood out from the rest.

You could feel that the cinematography employed was beyond mainstream: the lighting, the mood, the camera angles …

Whether Lesnie would have gone on to work on another Peter Jackson film or not, I was still very much looking forward to any future projects he would be involved in.

Clearly, that won’t happen.

I’ll never be able to see any of the Middle-earth films the same way; without thinking all the more of the exquisite cinematography in memory of Lesnie, and what a great loss the film industry has suffered.

Andrew Lesnie 2

Today is a sad day indeed; but I’m thankful his work and presence lives on in cinema: the great dream machine that offers respite from the harsh realities of the world.

Thank you Andrew for showing us the Magic.


Copyright of images belongs to Warner Bros. studios


14 thoughts on “Middle-earth’s “master of light” Passes Away …

  1. I’m sure I wouldn’t have felt like I knew Andrew Lesnie, and been so saddened by his loss, if not for Peter Jackson putting out such in-depth behind the scenes documentaries of his films. I thank him for it though, because knowing the hard work and effort behind the films I love so much, by everyone who worked on them, make them even more special to me. Rest in peace Mr. Lesnie.

  2. I teared up when I heard this. Its so sad to think that the man who created the beautiful cinematography in these beautiful films is gone. Just writing about it makes me think of so many amazing shots from the Tolkien films.

  3. This is no lesser than a shock! He was amazing and he will be remembered for his marvelous work, especially The Lord of The Rings & The Hobbit. movies.

  4. Just realized, although Peter Jackson essentially knows what will be in the Extended Edition, Andrew Lesnie, R.I.P., might have been crucial in editing the scenes.

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