Friday, June 18, 2010

Terence Davies (Sodankylä Morning Discussion with Peter von Bagh)

Terence Davies at the Sodankylä Morning Discussion with Peter von Bagh, 18 June 2010. Foto Laila Alanen

The Sodankylä School, 18 June 2010. Terence Davies was born in 1945.

Which was the first film you saw? - Singin' in the Rain.
Early days - I was the youngest of ten, an atmosphere of terror surrounded my father who died. After that there were happy years in a warm, loving family. - After WWII the country was bankrupt. - Ours were among the worst slums in Europe. There was often literally no money. - Charity was truly awful. - But there was a sense of community. - We had been an imperial power, and we still think we are one. - The radio was wonderful. They spoke beautiful, mesmerizing English. It was almost erotic. The weather forecasts were exotic. - I got beaten up for four years. No one had told me I had an accent. - I was lucky enough to discover Dylan Thomas and Under Milk Wood.
British comedy - Margaret Rutherford did a lot of comedies. - British comedies were the main pictures. - Victoria Wood. - Comedy is the most difficult to export. In translation, the first casualty is humour. - Joan Greenwood. - Alec Guinness, based on inexpressiveness, he can also be very dull (A Passage to India).
Music - For me it was popular music for most of the time. - Sammy Davis, Jr, - Cole Porter was still alive - then came the dreadful pop singers, The Beatles was awful - classical music was a revelation.
Your road to film - I visited the drama school, and applied to the film school, which saved my life - I knew that this is what I want to do. - Alexander Mackendrick came and saw a rough cut of Madonna and Child - He taught a class on The Third Man - you'd seen it but never looked - the eyelines - crossing the lines - the invisible line.
The Long Day Closes (the beginning screened) - Roses slowly decay: from T.S. Eliot - the banal Boccherini menuet is from The Ladykillers - The Robe: 20th Century Fox fanfare - Alec Guinness - Margaret Rutherford - Stardust - echoes of the people that lived there
People greeting us - there is melancholy, remembering I loved that street - a child's eyes at the age of ten - Dante: there is nothing more terrible than the recollection of happiness in tranquillity - I am now more aware of mortality - my mother died 13 years ago - musical allusions: Stardust, Firebird, Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee "I only miss him when I think of him / and I think of him all the time"
Distant Voices. Still Lives - was made with a very small amount of money - bleaching out silver nitrate - warm up with sepia filter - to catch a certain texture - the wallpaper with the little rosebuds - took me back to my childhood instantly - after The Long Day Closes I never had final cut - it was exhausting to fight for the cut, to fight for the poster
Painting - Vermeer - Liverpool Art Gallery - I don't know academic painting - I do look all the time - abroad I love to listen to people - Distant Voices. Still Lives was a succees - made no difference at all in Hollywood - the phone never rang
The House of Mirth - there was a play based on Edith Wharton's novel - Americans want tragedy with a happy ending - "why has she got to die" - "it's really complex" - Americans don't eat properly, they are not allowed to drink coffee - depressing with the awful lunches
Distant Voices - T.S. Eliot: children laughing in the shrubbery
Still Lives - don't act - if you be it's much more interesting - words that are meant stop being manneristic - I can detect mannerism with my eyes closed
Victim - Dirk Bogarde - when homosexuality was against the law
Carrie - Laurence Olivier's suicide scene - when Olivier underplays he's very good - The Entertainer is wonderful
Distant Voices. Still Lives: private moments intensified - the poetry of the ordinary, as in Chekhov - people sang in those days - be truthful to what you remember - we did a lot of tests for that bleached bi-pack process
The Long Day Closes: we had 46 items of music
My private life is dull. I don't go out much.
The colour of the furniture from the 1920: dark, polished mahogany - depressing, awful - awful furniture - it had to last - rooms almost Victorian - suffocating - generally dark
You present moments that are trivial and sublime at the same time, high moments in everyday life - Small things are big - the rhythm of life was slower - it could be measured with the cycle of the curtains, as there was only one set of them, and Wednesday was the washing day -
Cinema is wonderful - British comedies - Love Is a Many Splendored Thing: everyone was crying - All That Heaven Allows, Magnificent Obsession: I believed it was absolutely true, very profound - cinema was like religion, we were much more naive then - Doris Day in Young at Heart: everything was beautiful, the kitchens were very big - Jay Robinson in The Robe - now they have no idea how to frame, no close-ups
What about Sibelius - The symphonies, the songs, the two part documentary on Sibelius - the last five beats of the 5. Symphony - Salonen, Saraste - Colin Davis: couldn't listen to it - Sibelius is a giant - I couldn't live without Bruckner, Sibelius, Shostakovich
Excerpt of Of Time and the City - in 8 years I just couldn't get any work - it is embarrasing to see a British actor with a gun
Poetry - it gives me solace - I don't like being gay, it's ruining my life - poetry, music and work keep me going - I couldn't live without The Four Quartets (T.S. Eliot), Emily Dickinson, and Shakespeare: they are balm to my soul - John Beechman's Love Song
You are not easy to classify - the problem is always money
Do you have soulmates? - no, never, I was always an outsider - I look like an accountant - I don't like sex - I don't like rock, or drugs - what's left?
How about the older generation? - Robert Hamer: It Always Rains on Sunday - Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen - Kurosawa, Ozu: always one or two films - Hitchcock's Psycho is not frightening, it's disquieting: when Vera Miles goes to Bates' room: an object can be terrifying
Which film would you take to the desert island? - Kind Hearts and Coronets

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