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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 13:39 GMT
Film-maker Reisz dies at 76
Meryl Streep in The French Lieutenant's Woman
Meryl Streep in The French Lieutenant's Woman
Czech-born director Karel Reisz - famed for his direction of The French Lieutenant's Woman - has died, aged 76.

His wife, Betsy Blair, said he had been suffering from a blood disorder and died in London on Monday.

Reisz could barely speak a word of English when he fled to Britain from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia as a 12-year-old.

He went on to become one of the leaders of the "new wave" in British film-making.

"He had been very ill for six months but had been fighting the good fight," said Mrs Blair.

"I keep thinking of the 12-year-old boy who arrived here as a refugee and made a life for himself," said added.

"His parents died in Auschwitz. He was a wonderful man."

Life-long passion

Reisz's life-long passion for film began at his Quaker school. He spent much of his time there making 16mm movies.

During World War II, he flew as a pilot with the Czech branch of the UK's Royal Air Force.

After a postwar stint as a teacher, Reisz wrote for the film magazines Sequence and Sight and Sound and produced a seminal book on the technique of film editing.

Vanessa Redgrave
Vanessa Redgrave starred in Reisz's last British movie, Isadora

In 1960, his feature film debut - the gritty Saturday Night and Sunday Morning - became a classic and was hailed by critics as one of the best "angry young man" dramas in Britain.

Another great success was Morgan: A Suitable Case For Treatment, a quirky look at mental illness starring David Warner.

Vanessa Redgrave starred in his last British movie Isadora.

When Reisz's career moved to Hollywood in the mid-1970s he had mixed success, both commercially and critically.

His greatest triumph was The French Lieutenant's Woman - adaptated from the John Fowles novel by Harold Pinter. It secured an Oscar nomination for Meryl Streep.

In the last decade of his life, Reisz devoted himself to the stage, concentrating on theatre direction in London, Dublin and Paris.

He staged Harold Pinter's Moonlight on Broadway as well as an acclaimed revival of Terrence Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea in London.

See also:

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