He was one of the greats of cinema, David Cameron

He was one of the greats of cinema, David Cameron
His career included acting in films such as The Great Escape and Jurassic Park, and directing and producing Gandhi.

Attenborough won the Oscar for best director in 1983 for his work on Gandhi, and for Best Picture for producing Gandhi.  He also won three Golden Globes for supporting actor in Doctor Doolittle and The Sand Pebbles, and as director for Gandhi, which seemingly won everything the year it came out, including the DGA’s top prize (its Oscar total was eight). His directing of the musical adaptation A Chorus Line and Cry Freedom, the biopic about slain anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, also earned Golden Globe nominations.

Attenborough’s relationship with BAFTA (where he served as president for seven years, beginning in 2002) was even longer, beginning in 1959 and including 11 BAFTA Award nominations and four wins.

Beginning in 1961, he was nominated as Best British Actor for his work in The Angry Silence, which he also produced. His last BAFTA winner (with Brian Eastman) was the C.S. Lewis biopic Shadowlands, in 1994, which won for Best British Film and was nominated for two other awards.

BAFTA’s leadership issued a lengthy and heartfelt statement (see below) calling Attenborough a ‘monumental figure’ in the organization’s history and detailing the many ways he helped shape the organization and its predecessor. Attenborough also spent 13 years as chair of the British Film Institute which issued a statement (see below) noting his advocacy for the local industry.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron took to Twitter to pay tributes to the late director and said, ‘Richard Attenborough was one of the greats of cinema’: Ben Kingsley, who won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal in Gandhi, issued a statement as well:  ‘Richard Attenborough trusted me with the crucial and central task of bringing to life a dream it took him twenty years to bring to fruition. When he gave me the part of Gandhi, it was with great grace and joy.

He placed in me an absolute trust. I, along with millions of others whom he touched through his life and work, will miss him dearly.’

Steven Spielberg, who directed Attenborough in Jurassic Park, also issued a fond statement: ‘Dickie Attenborough was passionate about everything in his life.

Family, friends, his country and career. He made a gift to the world with his emotional epic Gandhi and he was the perfect ringmaster to bring the dinosaurs back to life as John Hammond in Jurassic Park.  He was a dear friend and I am standing in an endless line  of those who completely adored him.’

Directors Guild of America President Paris Barclay said, ‘Lord Richard’s immense contribution to the film industry has few parallels. As a director, actor and producer, he dedicated his lifetime to the arts, entertaining us from both behind and in front of the camera.

As a director he took on passion projects, many of which were biographical, highlighting individuals who lived extraordinary lives, dedicated to a particular passion – much like Richard himself. A winner of the 1982 DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for the biographical Gandhi, Richard was a true master filmmaker, embodying the alchemy necessary to turn film into art. He will be greatly missed.’

Attenborough had been in failing health in recent years, selling his beloved estate and moving into a nursing home in 2013 to be near his wife, Sheila. He died at lunchtime on Monday in west London, his son said, five years after a stroke that had confined him to a wheelchair and only a few days before his 91st birthday. Richard Samuel Attenborough was born on Aug. 29, 1923 in Cambridge, England.


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