Saturday, 28 March 2009

Magician With A Movie Camera: Nicolas Roeg

Yesterday's BAFTA tribute to Nicolas Roeg was a fitting reward for one of the two greatest directors that Britain has ever produced. (The other being Michael Powell, in case you're wondering.)

The evening was the brainchild of Danny Boyle and was designed to celebrate Roeg's illustrious career not through the contributions of those who have worked with him, but those filmmakers whom Roeg has inspired and influenced. On stage to talk about their love and admiration for a filmmaker who Boyle equates to Picasso were three Oscar-winning directors — Boyle, Kevin Macdonald, and James Marsh — as well as Stephen Frears and novelist Richard T Kelly.

There were also filmed contributions from Todd Haynes, Guillermo Del Toro, Terry Gilliam, Chris Nolan, Paul Greengrass, Mike Figgis, and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, as well as the world premiere of a Roeg-inspired short from Steven Soderbergh.

In the audience were Julie Christie, James Fox, Amanda Donohue, Jeremy Thomas, Sandy Lieberson and Allan Scott who joined Roeg, assorted family members, and the various presenters on stage at the end for a group photo.

Everyone talked about Roeg's remarkable skill as as cinematographer, director and all round cinematic artist, his masterful and experimental editing technique, his use of montage, of sound, and his movies' fractured timelines which laid the groundwork for so much of what we take for granted in movies today. Without Roeg, claimed Nolan, there wouldn't be a Memento. What he produced, Boyle, Del Toro and others insisted, was Pure Cinema, plain and simple.

Boyle had his editor Chris Dickens cut together a four minute condensed version of Don't Look Now which was brilliant; Marsh showed a clip from the same film in which Donald Sutherland falls from the platform in the church he's renovating in Venice that was an inspiration for him during the making of Man On Wire; Madonald said the third shot in Touching The Void was of a lizard, in homage to Walkabout; Frears, who lives down the road from Roeg, wanted him to come on stage to explain how he created the astonishing opening sequence of Don't Look Now. Roeg declined.

The event culminated in Roeg being presented with a BAFTA ("the first award I've ever won," Roeg quipped) from Walkabout stars Jenny Agutter and Roeg's producer son Luc.

All in all it was a splendid evening. Congratulations to everyone involved. And to Nic, of course.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like an amazing evening (hopefully it was filmed and will be posted on Bafta's website.) Was any mention made of Roeg's next film "Night Train?"

Mark Salisbury said...

It was filmed so I'm sure an edited version will appear on the website in the very near future.

There was lots of talk of future work but, alas, nothing specific.

Anonymous said...

Is "Magician with a Movie Camera"
a booklet or something? I mean,
is it obtainable to read?

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Loquacious Kumquat: A Facetious Adventure said...

Wait a second...Night Train was filmed already?

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