R.I.P.: Douglas Trumbull (1942-2022)


DOUGLAS TRUMBULL has died. He was a filmmaker, innovator, artist, engineer, and visual effects legend -- yet even all those varied titles don't capture the full scope of his genius.


Trumbull's cinematic contributions are beyond comparison. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, SILENT RUNNING, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, STAR TREK - THE MOTION PICTURE, and BLADE RUNNER... all feature images that will haunt my imagination forever.


I first met Trumbull while I was in college, and spent time at his RIDEFILM CORP. facility in Lennox, Massachusetts. Obviously, meeting Doug was a big thrill, and we crossed paths a handful of times after I moved to Los Angeles. I regret that I didn't get to know him better, and that his long-gestating feature documentary on the VFX of "2001" was never completed.


He was always exploring new methods in cinematography and film presentation. Long before the 48 frame, 3D presentation of Peter Jackson's THE HOBBIT -- which was met with considerable controversy -- Trumbull was experimenting with 60 frame filming and projection, with even more immersive (and aesthetically pleasing) results.


His last feature as a director, 1983's BRAINSTORM, was a film very much ahead of its time, and wildly underappreciated. More press was given to star Natalie Wood's death than to the merits of the movie itself.


He was a VFX consultant on Terence Malick's THE TREE OF LIFE, and the organic visual fidelity of the space sequences -- as with those of 2001 -- possess both surreal and timeless qualities.


More recently, Trumbull was planning to return to feature film directing, with an ambitious sci-fi project "way beyond anything that Peter Jackson and James Cameron have been doing". I'm sorry that it, too, shall remain only the stuff of dreams...







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