Wolfgang Suschitzky

Wolfgang Suschitzky, BSC (29 August 1912 – 7 October 2016), was a documentary photographer, as well as a cinematographer perhaps best known for his collaboration with Paul Rotha in the 1940s and his work on Mike Hodges' 1971 film Get Carter.

Wolfgang Suschitzky
Born29 August 1912
Died7 October 2016 (aged 104)
London, England, UK
NationalityAustrian (1912–1947)
British (1947–2016)
Years active1934–1984
Spouse(s)Ilona Donath Suschitzky[1]
ChildrenPeter Suschitzky[2]
Misha Donat[3]
Julia Donat[3]

Andrew Pulver described Suschitzky in 2007 as "a living link to the prewar glory days of the British documentary movement."[4] Steve Chibnall writes that Suschitzky "[developed] a reputation as an expert location photographer with a documentarist's ability to extract atmosphere from naturalistic settings."[5] His photographs have been exhibited at the National Gallery, the Austrian Cultural Forum in London and The Photographer's Gallery, and appear in many international photography collections. He was the father of cinematographer Peter Suschitzky (born 1941), classical musician and writer Misha Donat, and Julia Donat.[3]

Early life

Suschitzky was born in Vienna, Austria-Hungary. His father was a Viennese social democrat of Jewish background, but had renounced his faith and become an atheist, or "konfessionslos". He opened the first social democratic bookshop in Vienna (later to become a publisher), and Suschitzky was born in the apartment above the bookshop. His sister was photographer Edith Tudor-Hart (1908–1973). Suschitzky said of his father "he was a great man. I realised that later on in life, not so much when I saw him every day. But, I met interesting people, some of his authors who came and had lunch with us or met people who came to his shop."[6] In an interview at the age of 95 in September 2007, Suschitzky recalled boyhood memories of the excitement that greeted the Russian Revolution in 1917.[7] As he was brought up with no faith, he remembered the envy of his friends that he was allowed to miss religious classes and sit outside reading a book and described himself as "a very naughty boy. We played all sorts of tricks with… my chums in the park, every afternoon." He was often in trouble at home and at school.[8] On the advice of the counsellor for education of Vienna, his father sent him to a day boarding school to learn some discipline. However he continued to be mischievous and was often detained at school.

Suschitzky's first love was zoology, but he realised he could not make a living in Austria in this discipline, so instead, influenced by his sister, he studied photography.[9] At this time, the political climate in Austria was changing from a Socialist Democracy to Austrofascism. Being a Socialist and of Jewish origin, Suschitzky decided there was no future for him in Austria and in 1934 left for London where his sister lived; while he was in London his father committed suicide. Suschitzky married a Dutch woman, Helena Wilhelmina Maria Elisabeth (Puck) Voûte in Hampstead and they moved to the Netherlands. His wife left him after a year, which he said "was great luck because had I stayed there, I wouldn’t be alive anymore, I'm sure."[10] He returned to England in 1935, and in 1939 married Ilona Donath, with whom he had three children.


Suschitzky's first job was in the Netherlands photographing postcards for newsagents. This job lasted only a few months.[10] He travelled to England in 1935 and became a film cameraman[4] for Paul Rotha, with whom he had a long working relationship. Their work during the war included World of Plenty (1943) and government-sponsored information shorts and magazine programmes. With Rotha he graduated to feature films, working on No Resting Place (1951), which was one of the first British feature films shot entirely on location. The film was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Film in 1952. He then photographed Colin Lesslie's production, the comedy The Oracle (1953), followed by another Rotha film, Cat & Mouse (1958). He also worked on Jack Clayton's short film The Bespoke Overcoat which won an Oscar for "Best Short Subject, Two-reel" at the 1956 Oscars.[11] He also took a photograph of the writer C. S. Lewis in approximately 1959.

In the 1960s, Suschitzky work included Joseph Strick's adaptation of James Joyce's Ulysses (1967) and Hammer Film Productions' Vengeance of She (Cliff Owen, 1968). He also photographed the British crime film The Small World of Sammy Lee (1963), directed by Ken Hughes. This film proved influential to screenwriter Mike Hodges, with whom Suschitzky worked on Get Carter (1971).[12] His last film before photographing Get Carter was the adaptation of Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr. Sloane (1970) directed by Douglas Hickox.[11]

His other credits include two films directed by Jack Couffer, Ring of Bright Water (1969) and Living Free (1972), which was the sequel to Born Free. Issue 12 of Lid magazine featured a twenty-eight page portfolio of Suschitzky's photographs with a portrait and essay by Gerard Malanga.[13] His son Peter Suschitzky ASC/BSC is also a cinematographer. Wolf (or Su, as he is also known) is featured in the book Conversations with Cinematographers by David A Ellis (Scarecrow Press).


Suschitzky died on 7 October 2016 at the age of 104 in London.[14]

Partial filmography


  1. "Peter Suschitzky (1941–) personal". Encyclopedia.com. HighBeam™ Research, Inc. © Copyright 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  2. "Peter Suschitzky". Internet Encyclopedia. IEC. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  3. "Wolfgang Suschitzky, Biography trivia". Internet Movie Database. IMDb,Inc. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  4. Pulver, Andrew (17 January 2007). "'I got into places people never go'". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  5. Chibnall, Steve (2003). Get Carter: The British Film Guide 6. UK: I.B. Taurus. p. 94. ISBN 978-1-86064-910-3.
  6. "WOLFGANG SUSCHITZKY 3 – The situation in Austria and my father's suicide". Web of Stories. Web of stories. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  7. Interview with Suschitzky
  8. Suschitzky, Wolfgang. "Early Life In Vienna". Web of Stories. Web of Stories. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  9. "WOLFGANG SUSCHITZKY 2 – Studying photography and moving to London". Web Of Stories. Web of Stories. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  10. "WOLFGANG SUSCHITZKY 4 – Moving to Holland and working as a photographer". web of stories. web of stories. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  11. Chibnall, 2003, pg. 25
  12. Williams, Tony (2006). "Great Directors: Mike Hodges". Senses of Cinema (40). Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  13. http://thewaverlypress.com/product/lid-12-elizabeth-taylor-cover
  14. https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/oct/07/wolfgang-suschitzky-obituary%3f0p19G=e?client=safari
  15. "Wolfgang Suschitzky Cinematographer- filmography". Internet Movie Database. IMDb, Inc. Retrieved 5 April 2012.

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