British filmmaker Alan Parker has died after a long illness, his family has announced. The directors work earned 10 Academy Awards and 19 British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs).
Parker was best known for his ability to move between genres, finding success in most that he explored. He got behind the camera for serious social dramas like the Oliver Stone-penned 1978 film ‘Midnight Express,’ about an American imprisoned for years for drug dealing in a foreign country, but Parker also dove into music-themed films like 1982’s ‘Pink Floyd: The Wall’ and 1980’s ‘Fame.’
Not one to be pigeon-holed, the filmmaker would also go on to dabble in horror with 1987’s acclaimed ‘Angel Heart,’ starring Mickey Rourke and Robert De Niro, a New Orleans-set noir piece that found Parker battling the Motion Picture Association of America system when it was initially slapped with an X-rating for its intense violence and sexual content. Other successful films by Parker included 1988’s ‘Mississippi Burning’ and 1996’s ‘Evita.’
We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of BAFTA Fellow Alan Parker. As BAFTA-winning filmmaker, he brought us joy with Bugsy Malone, The Commitments, Midnight Express and many more. pic.twitter.com/fVOcXARgKM— BAFTA (@BAFTA) July 31, 2020
Born in London, Parker did not set out to be a filmmaker, nor did he have any connections to the business. Born to a seamstress mother and a house painting father, the director eventually got into advertising, starting as a copywriter and then making commercials for the ad firm CDP.
Eventually forming his own company to make advertisements, Parker slowly moved into the world of filmmaking through scripting the 1971 ‘Melody’ and eventually moving to directing full features with 1976’s ‘Bugsy Malone.’
After years of acclaim and studio battles, Parker stepped away from the camera after 2003’s ‘The Life of David Gale.’ He confirmed his retirement in 2015.
“I've been directing since I was 24, and every day was a battle, every day it was difficult, whether you're fighting the producer who has opinions you don't agree with, the studios, whoever it is,” he said.
Film...is hugely expensive, and the moment it gets expensive, you've got people you have to serve.
Films like ‘Angel Heart’ and ‘Fame,’ however, only grew in popularity, and Parker was never far from the public eye.
He was awarded the Academy Fellowship, the highest honor in the British film industry, in 2013, and was knighted in 2002. He spent his later years focused on painting.
From "Fame" to "Midnight Express," two-time Oscar nominee Alan Parker was a chameleon. His work entertained us, connected us, and gave us such a strong sense of time and place. An extraordinary talent, he will be greatly missed. pic.twitter.com/OxZPBxTE8F— The Academy (@TheAcademy) July 31, 2020
Parker is survived by five children, seven grandchildren, and his wife Lisa Moran-Parker.
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