Legendary British filmmaker Alan Parker, who directed such classics as Midnight Express, Evita, Mississippi Burning, Bugsy, and also immense music related films such as Fame, The Commitments, and Pink Floyd’s The Wall, has died. He was 76 years old. A statement from the director’s family says Parker died Friday in London after a long illness. We send our condolences to his family at this time.
He followed that with 1978 feature “Midnight Express,” the reality-based story of an American’s harrowing incarceration in a Turkish prison for alleged drug offenses. It won two Oscars — including one for Oliver Stone’s script — and gained Parker the first of two best-director nominations.
Parker ranged widely across subjects and genres. While “Shoot the Moon” (1982) and “Angela’s Ashes” (1999) were family dramas, ”Birdy” (1984) was a tale of war and friendship, “Angel Heart” (1987) an occult thriller and “Mississippi Burning” (1988) a powerful civil rights drama that was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including best director.
Parker was also a notable director of musicals, a genre he both embraced and expanded. “Fame” (1980) was a gritty but celebratory story of life at a performing arts high school; “Pink Floyd — the Wall” (1982) was a surreal rock opera; “The Commitments” (1991) charted the ups and downs of a ramshackle Dublin soul band; and “Evita” (1996) cast Madonna as Argentine first lady Eva Peron in a big-screen version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical. His final film was death-row drama “The Life of David Gale” in 2003.
Parker also championed Britain’s film industry, serving as chairman of the British Film Institute and the U.K. Film Council. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002, and in 2013 received the British film academy’s highest honor, the BAFTA Fellowship.