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The Passing of Heinz Hölscher - MCS 70 Pioneer
09.10.1925 - 07.05.2021

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Jürgen A. Brückner, Kinemathek Coburg, Germany Date: 30.05.2021
Heinz Hölscher with 8mm home movie camera, and next to one of the MCS 70 cameras.

In Memory of Heinz Hölscher – A Pioneer in MCS 70 film production

On May 07, 2021 Heinz Hölscher passed away in Munich Germany. The German film economy lost one of its most renowned and busiest cinematographers, honorary member of the BVK (German Society of Cinematogaphers) and Federal Film Award winner for his work on "ONKEL TOMS HÜTTE".

Born in 1925 as the son of a manufacturer of special photographic equipment in Munich, he started his career as an assistant to the experienced cinematographer Franz Weymayr. When the latter fell ill during the shooting of "Zwei Menschen", he had to finish filming this movie. He first became known in 1954 through his work on "08/15" by director Paul May. His knowledge for the use of light was praised early on. The correct use of light, was particularly important in black-and-white films.

In the course of his 50 years of creative work, important actors stood in front of his camera, such as: Heinz Rühmann, Lilli Palmer, Curt Jürgens, Gerd Fröbe, Joachim Fuchsberger, Karin Dor, O.W. Fischer, Uschi Glas, Mario Adorf, Götz George, Pierre Brice, Terence Hill, Stewart Granger and Lex Barker.

The list of directors he had the pleasure of working for is long one and included: Paul & Michael Verhoeven, Jürgen Roland, Alfred Weidenmann, Harald Reinl, F.J. Gottlieb, Harald Philipp, Geza von Radvanyi, Franz Antel, H. Ashley and Wolfgang Petersen.

My first encounter with Heinz Hölscher was in 1971, when I helped re-release the film "Flying Clipper - Traumreise Unter Weissen Segeln" into the movie theaters. He was one of the four cameramen for the first German 70mm movie - a journey on a sailing schooling ship through the Mediterranean sea. I acquired the copyrights for the film from the actress Hannelore Bollmann, whose husband was Rudolf Travnicek, who brought the Cinerama spectacle “Windjammer” to German movie screens in 1958. This 3-strip film could only be shown in a few cinemas due to its special technology. In the meantime, the 70mm format film brought the same image effect to the giant curved screens. For the next movie in this genre "FLYING CLIPPER", Travnicek commissioned the Norwegian designer Jan W. Jacobsen (1916-1998) in 1961 to build a 65mm camera, since the cameras available on the market could only be rented with difficulty.

Heinz Hölscher was one of the first cameramen to work with 70mm cameras in the 1960s. With the first 4 of a total of 6 MCS-70mm field cameras built, he filmed the movie "FLYING CLIPPER", he shot all the aerial shots, the sequences in Greece, Turkey, Egypt, the Formula 1 race scenes in Monte Carlo and on the aircraft carrier "Shangri La". The MCS camera was very light and handy compared to the previously available 70mm cameras and could even be mounted under the wing of an aircraft like Do-27.
More in 70mm reading:

The Passing of Heinz Hölscher - MCS 70 Pioneer

Flying Clipper - Traumreise Unter Weissen Segeln

Dieter Gäbler passed away

Dieter Gäbler verstorben

In the Movies with Gerhard Fromm

The M.C.S.-70 Process and European Cinema of the 1960s

Heinz Hölscher (left) and friend Gerhard Fromm in Schauburg, Karlsruhe, 2008. Picture: Thomas Hauerslev

With the widescreen experience gained, in 1964 the director Géza von Radványi engaged Heinz Hölscher for the film adaptation of the novel "ONKEL TOMS HÜTTE", for which he was assisted by cameraman Gerhard Fromm. He is remembered for his magnificent camera shots, such as the night riding scene. For the same director, he then appeared once again in 1965 in "DER KONGRESS AMÜSIERT SICH" and here, wonderful ball sequences of the amazing Viennese palaces. For the first time the two MCS-70mm studio cameras were used.

Together with Heinz Hölscher I have also been to screenings of his movies at the FILMMUSEUM FRANKFURT and the annual 70mm festivals at the SCHAUBURG in Karlsruhe. His former colleagues and friends Gerhard Fromm and
Dieter Gäbler were also present. The latter was responsible for the technology at MCS.

In 2009, the BERLINALE presented in a 70mm RETROSPECTIVE a 70mm print of "FLYING CLIPPER" newly copied at FOTOKEM in L.A. and invited Hannelore Bollmann and myself as special guests.

In 2012, when one of the six built MCS-70mm field cameras was offered in an auction house in Cologne, I could not resist. Together with Heinz Hölscher and Gerhard Fromm, we got it working again. Today the camera is displayed in the foyer of my studio cinema.

Heinz Hölscher shot countless feature movies within 50 years of his professional career, among them Karl May and Edgar Wallace films. Visibly deprived of his livelihood in the cinemas, Hölscher was forced, though rather late, to turn towards television productions. He was extremely hard-working and successful, and right until the end his name could be found in well-known German TV series such as "Das Traumschiff", "Derrick", "Der Alte" or "Tatort". Highly professional, his work differed from the usual routine work of some colleagues. Few cameramen can look back on such a large and varied life's work.

"FLYING CLIPPER" and the MCS-70mm camera will connect us forever. Grateful and happy to have known him, he will also remain unforgotten in the worldwide family of film and especially among the friends of the 70mm film format.
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Updated 21-01-24