DVD Release: No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos

DVD Release Date: Feb. 28, 2012
Price: DVD $19.95
Studio: Cinema Libre

The lives, careers and friendship of legendary Hungary-born cinematographers László Kovács and Vilmos Zsigmond are examined in the 2008 documentary No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos.

László and Vilmos: No Subtitles Necessary movie scene

László Kovács (r.) and Vilmos Zsigmond focus on their work in No Subtitles Necessary.

Both survivors of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, Kovács and Zsigmond immigrated in poverty to America in the late 1950s, helping each other up the ladder out of the underbelly of Hollywood all the while holding onto their dreams.

After 10 years of no-budget toil, Kovács’s camera broke Hollywood’s rules with Easy Rider, directed by Dennis Hopper (Blue Velvet). Suddenly in demand, he recommended Vilmos to both Peter Fonda (Race With the Devil) and Robert Altman (3 Women), where Zsigmond poured his “poetic realism” into Fonda’s 1971 The Hired Hand and Altman’s 1971 McCabe & Mrs. Miller.

The two cinematographers quickly became the go-to camera guys of the New Hollywood, ultimately yielding some 140 movie credits between them, including Kovács’s Five Easy Pieces, Paper Moon, Shampoo and Ghostbusters and Zsigmond’s Scarecrow, Cinderella Liberty, The Rose, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Blow Out and The Deer Hunter.

That small list of films alone is proof that both deserved their Lifetime Achievement Awards from the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC)!

Filled with clips from their greatest films (and a few of their turkeys), No Subtitles Necessary also features a number of interviews with those who have worked with the pair, including Hopper, Fonda, Sandra Bullock (Crash), Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show), Sharon Stone (The Specialist), Jon Voight (Coming Home), composer John Williams and fellow cinematographer Haskell Wexler.

Directed by James Chressanthis, No Subtitles Necessary premiered on PBS’s “Independent Lens” in November 2009.

The documentary’s DVD includes some 45 minutes of bonus features, including the following:

  • “The birth of Easy Rider” tribute to Dennis Hopper, featuring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Karen Black
  • “Actor Master Class” with Karen Black on Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces
  • “Director of Master Class” with Bob Rafelson on Head, Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces
  • “Peter Bogdanovich on László”
  • “Drugs on Easy Rider” with Peter Sorel

Buy or Rent No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos
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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.