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Difficulties with the Louma crane in Gandhi


Ben Kingsley's performance in Gandhi
Billy Williams Film-maker
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Of course Ben Kingsley had... had to play the role of Gandhi from when he was about 26 until he died in his mid 70s, so it was a 50-year span. And so for the early period when he was young, he wore a... a wig, black hair, because he had a certain amount of hair but not as much as that. And I had to light him to look as young as possible, and then through the course of the film he gradually ages until he's the very old man. Now we had a marvellous makeup man called Tom Smith and Ben used to go into makeup for a couple of hours. And, he'd had his head shaved of course and Tom had sort of, little flaky bits he put on his skin and he actually painted the ageing lines. They weren't prosthetics; it was drawn with a pencil. And it was really a work of art. And Ben would come on set in the morning out of makeup as the old man — dressed in his loin cloth — and he stood like an old man and moved like an old man. And we've rehearsed the scene and because I knew I would perhaps be 20 minutes setting everything up I said... I said to Ben one... one day, I said, ’Oh Ben’ I said, ’Why don't you have a sit down while... while we get ready?’ Because I really felt... I believed that I was in the presence of this frail old man and... and Ben, he just looked to me and smiled and he nodded his head the... the way Indians do and... he was 36 and I was 50, and so... he was so convincing and it was such a performance. I mean it was you know... it really... his performance was... I... I think carried the film in many ways, it was so convincing.

Billy Williams, London-born cinematographer Billy Williams gained his first two Oscar nominations for the acclaimed “Women in Love” and “On Golden Pond”. His third nomination, which was successful, was for the epic “Gandhi”. He was President of the British Society of Cinematographers, and was awarded the Camera Image Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.

Listeners: Neil Binney

Neil Binney began working as a 'clapper boy' in 1946 on spin-off films from steam radio such as "Dick Barton". Between 1948-1950 he served as a Royal Air Force photographer. From 1950 he was a Technicolor assistant technician working on films such as John Ford's "Mogambo" (photographed by Freddie Young), Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (Bob Burke), and Visconti's "Senso" (G.R. Aldo/B. Cracker). As a camera assistant he worked on "Mind Benders", "Billy Liar" and "This Sporting Life". Niel Binney became a camera operator in 1963 and worked with, among others, Jack Cardiff, Fred Tammes and Billy Williams. He was elected associate member of the British Society of Cinematographers in 1981 and his most recent credits include "A Fish Called Wanda" and "Fierce Creatures".

Duration: 2 minutes, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008