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Obituaries : Documentary Film Director Basil Wright

October 17, 1987

Basil Wright, a director and producer of documentary films for more than 30 years, has died in London at the age of 80.

Wright, who became involved with film while studying at Cambridge--where he produced an amateur short--was a pioneer member of Britain's Film Centre.

Among his better-known pictures were the elegiac "Song of Ceylon" in 1934, which he wrote, directed and photographed, and "Night Mail" in 1935, about a mail train run from London to Glasgow that he co-directed with Harry Watt.

The train film had a verse commentary by W. H. Auden, music by Benjamin Britten and sound track direction by Alberto Cavalcanti.

He also wrote two books, "The Use of Film" in 1948 and "The Long View," a history of film making, in 1974.

Wright, who died Wednesday, worked closely with Scottish documentary master John Grierson, who called him the "best cutter in the business."

Another close associate was Paul Rotha, the documentarian and film historian. Together they made "World Without End" in 1953 for UNESCO to show the U.N. organization's work in primitive communities.

Wright's "Immortal Land" in 1957 explored Greece, a country with which he had a lifelong association. His other pictures included "Gibraltar," "Cargo From Jamaica," (which he also photographed) and his last, "A Place for Gold," in 1961.

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