Otto Heller
Otto Heller

(1896-03-08)8 March 1896
Died19 February 1970(1970-02-19) (aged 73)
London, United Kingdom
Years active1919–1969

Otto Heller, B.S.C. (8 March 1896 – 19 February 1970)[1] was a Czech cinematographer long resident in the United Kingdom. He worked on more than 250 films, including Richard III (1955), The Ladykillers (1955) and Peeping Tom (1960).


Otto Heller was born in a Jewish family in Prague on 8 March 1896. As a teenager, he became a projectionist in the Lucerna cinema. During World War I, he worked in a film laboratory in Vienna. After the war, he started to work as a documentary cameraman at Pragafilm. During the 1920s, he was the most requested cinematographer in Czechoslovakia. Together with Karel Lamač, Anny Ondra and Václav Wasserman, he made many movies both for domestic and international audience. He often worked with Svatopluk Innemann, Martin Frič and Jan S. Kolár. Because of the rise of Nazism, he left Czechoslovakia in 1938 with Lamač.

In an interview for the extra materials on the Blu-ray Disk version of The Ipcress File, Michael Caine recollects how Otto Heller told the story of leaving Nazi Germany in 1939. His camera crew were all Germans and they kept telling him to leave but he did not believe he needed to go and he would refuse, saying they were having a great time doing movies. Then one day his camera operator came dressed in an SS uniform and told him that he has joined the SS and urged Heller to go "now". Heller told Michael Caine that he "went to the toilet, went out through the toilet window and I never stoppped running till I got to London".[2]

He became a British citizen in 1945. Heller continued to live and make movies in UK until his death.[1]

He died in London on 19 February 1970.[3]

Selected filmography


  1. ^ a b "Otto Heller". Retrieved 2011-01-24.
  2. ^ Interview - Sir Michael Caine (Bonus Material on The Ipcress File film Blu-ray disk). 2006.
  3. ^ "Otto Heller Biography". Screenonline. BFI.