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Web of Stories offers you the chance to listen to some of the greatest people of our time telling their life stories.

The butterfly effect

Benoît Mandelbrot


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Filmmaking is similar to cooking

Walter Murch - Film-maker

Now, with Sean Connery as King Arthur, the budget has changed. And it's a different kind of film. So we need a star to be Lancelot. And at any one time, for a film of a certain budget, within a certain category of film, you have fairly limited: who can we get? Bankable stars, and you have to deal with, do they want to do this project? Can you afford them? And are they available? And that narrows the field even more. And eventually, it came down to Richard Gere. And I remember where I was standing when Jerry Zucker phoned me and said, 'Great news, we cast Richard Gere as Lancelot.' And I suddenly thought, 'No, don't do it.' And I said, 'Don't do it.' 'Why, what?' And I said, 'Because he's so urban, and modern that I just can't see it.' And he said, 'Well, remember, Walter, that's what you said about Patrick Swayze in Ghost.' And in fact, I did say that. And I said, 'Yes, you're right.' And he said, 'It worked with Patrick.' I said, 'Yes.' So he said, 'Trust me, it'll work. And Richard Gere, he loves the screenplay. He wants to really do it. You know, he's at an age where this is the last... He feels he won't be able to do anymore athletic kind of things. And he really wants to do it.' And so it happened. But in hindsight, probably the chemistry of all of that was, I don't know, too much of a stretch. To say, here is an American, who is known for urban, modern, Pretty Woman type stuff as Lancelot, an English medieval person.

But Hollywood is, you know, it's the world of... I use Hollywood in a generic sense. Movies are all about these improbable illusions that somehow coalesce if everything is positioned right. You can ignore the most amazing sort of contradictions. And yet, not only still enjoy it, but enjoy it almost because of the contradictions. I mean, the casting of Ghost is a good example, in that at that time, Patrick Swayze, and Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg were kind of in the world of sort of B Level movie stars, and popular, and sort of trashy in the best sense of that word. And yet because of the similar weight of them all, they worked together great.

And filmmaking, as many arts, are all about the internal balance of the work, not exactly what you make it. But what is the pattern that unites these things, rather than the things themselves. We respond to the pattern of things, which so they tell me is one of the definitions of life itself... That we are a pattern of organisation, rather than the individual things that make us up. And if a film can achieve that kind of balance, then it has a chance of working, despite the fact that you look at it and say, 'Wait a minute. What are the ingredients here?' It's like, similar to cooking. I mean, you can make something that's really tasty out of stuff that, if you looked at the individual elements, you would say, 'I don't know that that's going to work.'

Marvin Minsky - Scientist
Donald Knuth - Scientist
Oliver Sacks - Scientist