Star of the TV show named carrying his name, the whole world has watched him grow from infant to adult. But he doesn’t know this, living as he does in a giant studio, an entire town peopled by actors. One morning things start to click…
A profound modern myth, Truman is an everyman, both for his fictitious viewers and for us.
On May 2nd Mark Lord shared with us his passion for design and tailoring, and how he has become a costumier for many TV and film productions, including the BBC’s recent Dickensian. He explained how he had to work from (often incomplete) scripts, and spot where later episodes required a character to have a particular kind of clothing from the start. For example, if a character beats someone with a belt in episode 10, they have to wear a belt from episode 1. If a character is stabbed in episode 6, Mark has to order five of the same shirt, as scenes often require several takes. He is a stickler for detail, and takes great pains to be historically accurate. Many in his audience were keen to work in different aspects of film, and were very grateful to Mark for the warm, generous and precise advice he gave them.
On Tuesday the 26th April, the Williams Project attenders were fortunate enough to listen to a talk given by our very own Mr Paul Fletcher. The presentation gave an insight into the second world war from a French perspective, by showing an abundance of marvellous clips from classic French war films including Monsieur Klein and Hiroshima Mon Amour. Mr Fletcher also articulated how there were no second world war films made during the war itself. It was only after the war ended that the French made copious amount of war films, using various genres such as love films, action films and even cartoons set during the war.
The films portrayed some of the things that happened in France during the War including when the German soldiers took over the North of France, creating the German-occupied Zone, so they could use the coasts nearer to Britain, and leaving the South of France as the free zone. The film La Ligne de démarcation clearly illustrates this situation. The talk was extremely riveting and showed me an insight on the second world war which I had never seen before.
Mr Fletcher, Sergio and Ennio
On the 12th of May, the WP was visited by Mr Fletcher, who gave an interesting and informative talk on the “Spaghetti Western.” Mr Fletcher spoke excellently on the history behind the film genre, and the inspirations and themes on which Sergio Leone based his “Dollars” trilogy. He began by showing us a clip from “Yojimbo,” a Japanese Samurai film which inspired Leone to make his own western, with a Samurai-style anti-hero. Working on a low budget and with an almost entirely Spanish and Italian cast (except, of course, for the then-unheard-of Clint Eastwood), Leone managed to create a hugely popular western using the rough plot of “Yojimbo.” Despite being sued by Akira Kurosawa, the director of “Yojimbo,” Leone received great success thanks to “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964), as it was eventually titled, although this was in part thanks to the music composed by his old school friend, Ennio Morricone. Interestingly, Leone was originally unaware of the popularity achieved by the “The Magnificent Stranger” – he failed to recognise that the positive reviews related to his film.
Leone then did what any director would have the instinct to do in such a situation – he made a sequel, entitled “For a Few Dollars More” (1965). Although this was also successful, the third and final instalment of the “Dollars” trilogy, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966) is widely considered to be the most successful and the most complex. Following Leone’s success in the western genre, other Italian directors began to imitate him, producing films such as “Django” and “The Great Silence,” known as “Spaghetti Westerns.” Each followed the same essential plot: a mysterious stranger turns up in a town ruled by local thugs, and works as a hired gun to overthrow these thugs. The talk finished with clips from “Once Upon a Time in America” (1968), Leone’s final and perhaps greatest film, and the infuriatingly tense final shoot-out in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”
Mr Fletcher’s talk was engaging and interesting, and I’m sure that we are all very grateful to Mr Fletcher for delivering such a fascinating talk about some of the most influential films of all time.
Old Chigwellian Michael Pruss, Senior Vice President of Production for Scott Free Productions, hosted a special Williams Project meeting on the Friday before he gave the prizes at the school’s Speech Day. He spoke engagingly and in depth about his personal journey to Hollywood from Chigwell, and then illuminatingly and with passion and humour about the structure of a standard movie plot, even detailing at which minute certain plot-turns are best placed. The audience were spellbound, and asked excellent questions.
Antony Sher stars in this chilling and disturbing hour-long BBC production of J.G. Ballard’s short story The Enormous Place. A man decides never to leave his house again, and video-diaries the ‘experiment’. Tulips and cats will never taste the same again.
Mr Lord showed the vi WP this film from the 1980s, about a journalist who investigates the death of a teenager on an American airbase in Britain, and its subsequent cover-up. A tight thriller, also interesting as perhaps the last film showing the press before computers: manual type-setting, paper filing (so, for example, photos can’t be filed under more than one heading, as they only exist in one paper file), and perhaps the most devious use of a record-player in cinema.