Joseph Natanson, who has died in Rome aged 94, began life as a Surrealist painter before being recruited in 1947 to do the special effects for Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's film "The Red Shoes".
The picture won an Oscar for its designs, but Natanson vowed never to become involved with such a project again. Yet he went on to provide the illusionistic art work for some of the best-known directors of the second half of the 20th century.
This followed Natanson's move in the early 1950s from London to Italy, where he collaborated with many leading Italian filmmakers, including Vittorio De Sica, Sergio Leone, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Franco Zeffirelli, as well as numerous other visitors to Cinecitta, from John Huston to Joseph Mankiewicz.
In the end, he was involved in more than 80 films, the last of them Jean-Jacques Annaud's "Name of the Rose".

His principal task was painting and filming "matte-shots", miniature scenes and additional elements on glass, that were blown up by the camera to create magnificent backdrops cityscapes, vistas and details that would have been prohibitively expensive to construct, or impossible to engineer and co-ordinate while shooting the main action.
Natanson was dispatched to Italy a number of times in the early 1950s, to participate in various international co-productions at Cinecitta in Rome, the new "Hollywood on the Tiber"

Long before the use of computericed effects, Natanson had ingenious tricks of the trade; for Mankiewicz's "Cleopatra", using a castle in the sea near Anzio as a point of view, he managed, with the landscape artist Mary Bone, to create a vast panorama of ancient Alexandria. However, after a delay in filming, when Elizabeth Taylor was indisposed, he noticed that due to a change in the weather, the distant chain of the Italian Apennines, until then shrouded in mist, had suddenly become startlingly visible. The sets were hastily repainted.

Biographical  info from:


- The name of the Rose.(1986)
-  Guerrieri dell'anno 2072, I (1984) (optical effects and miniatures)
- Casanova ( 1976 )
- Satyricon. (1969)
- Witches, The (1969)  (special effects)
- Histoires extraordinaires (1968) (optical effects) (segment "Toby Dammit")
- Satyricon(1968)
- Tre passi nel delirio (1967) (special effects)
- Il Fischo al naso (1967) (special effects)
- La cintura di castita (1967)(special effects)
- Arabella (1967) (special effects)
- Arriva Dorellik (1967) (special effects)
- The cavern (1966) (Special effects)
-  Cast a giant shadow.(1966)(matte shots)
- Caccia alla volpe (1966)/ After the Fox (1966)  (USA)(special effects)
- Mark Donen agente Z7 (1966) (special effects)
- Se tutte le monde del mondo (1966) (special effects)
- Sette contra la morte (1965) (special effects)
- Montagna di luce, La (1965) / Temple of a Thousand Lights (USA)(special effects)
- Belle famiglie, Le (1964) (special effects)
- My son the hero(1963) (Spec effects)
- L'eroe di babilonia (1963) (special effects)
- Cleopatra  (1963) (special effects)
- Boccaccio'70 (1962) (special effects)
- Arrivano i titani (1962) / The Titans (USA)(special effects)
- Le sette folgori di Assur  (1962) (special effects)
- Giulio Cesare, il conquistatore delle Gallie (1962) (matte shots)

Three samples of his matte shots at Julius Caesar.

- La Dolce Vita  (1960)
- Francis of Assis i (1961) (Spec effects)
- Maciste nella terra dei ciclopi (1961) (matte shots)
- Triunph of Maciste (1961 (matte shots)

- The Giant of metropolis (1960)(special effects)
- Ciociara, La (1960) (Two woman) (matte artist)
- Regina delle Amazzoni, La (1960) (special effects)  Colossus and the Amazon Queen (USA)
- Contessa azzurra, La (1960) (special effects)
- Giuseppe venduto dai fratelli  (1960)
- Nel segno di Roma (1959) (special effects)
-  Sheba and the Gladiator (1959) (USA) (special effects)
- Sign of the Gladiator (1959) (USA)(special effects)
- Herod the Great (1960) (USA)(special effects)
- Casta diva (1954) (special effects)
- Helen of Troy (56) (special effects)
- Madame Butterfly (1954) (special effects)
- Eterna Femmina (1954) (special effects)
- Symphony of Love (54) (special effects)
- Puccini, (1953) (special effects)
- Miracle in Milan (1951) (special effects)
- The Red Shoes. (1947) (pictorical effects)

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