Michael Chapman, ‘The Fugitive’ and ‘Raging Bull’ Cinematographer, Dies at 84

“He was a great artist, and it saddens me that I won’t get to see him again,” Martin Scorsese says in a statement

Last Updated: September 22, 2020 @ 7:19 AM

Michael Chapman, the cinematographer who lensed classics like “The Fugitive” and “Raging Bull, died on Sunday. His wife, screenwriter Amy Holden Jones made the announcement on Twitter. Chapman was 84.

“Goodbye to the love of my life. Michael Chapman Sept 20 2020”

Chapman received two Oscar nominations for best cinematography for his work on both “Raging Bull” and “The Fugitive.” In 2004, Chapman received a lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Cinematographers.

“I consider myself so fortunate to have been able to work with Michael Chapman. Michael and I made three films together–‘Taxi Driver,’ ‘The Last Waltz’ and ‘Raging Bull,’ and he brought something rare and irreplaceable to each of them,” Martin Scorsese said in a statement Tuesday on Chapman’s passing.

He continued: “I remember when ‘Taxi Driver’ came out and Michael became known as a “poet of the streets”–I think that was the wording, and it seemed right to me. Michael was the one who really controlled the visual palette of ‘The Last Waltz,’ and on ‘Raging Bull’ he and his team met every single challenge–and there were so many. One of the greatest of those challenges was shooting in black and white, which Michael had never done before, a fact that still astonishes me. His relationship with the camera and the film that was running through it was intimate, mysterious, almost mystical. He was a great artist, and it saddens me that I won’t get to see him again.”

Other notable credits Chapman earned as director of photography include “Scrooged,” “Ghostbusters II,” “Kindergarten Cop,” “Doc Hollywood” and “Space Jam.”

In 1987, Chapman was also the cinematographer on Michael Jackson’s 18 minute “Bad” music video which was directed by Martin Scorsese.

Chapman was born in New York City on Nov. 21, 1935, and first started working in film production as a camera operator on films such as “The Landlord” for Hal Ashby, “The Godfather” for Francis Ford Coppola, and “Jaws” for Steven Spielberg.

Chapman would eventually make the leap from camera operator to director of photography for Ashby’s “The Last Detail,” and then shot films like “The Front” for Martin Ritt and “Fingers” for James Toback.

Chapman would eventually direct a single feature starring a young Tom Cruise in 1983’s “All the Right Moves.”

Chaman is survived by Jones and son Andrew Chapman.