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My lens work with the church scene in Eleni


Eleni: the true story
Billy Williams Film-maker
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I went to Andalucia to do a picture with Peter Yates called Eleni, starring Kate Ne... Kate Nelligan and John Malkovich and Linda Hunt, and once again, it was based on a true story. In fact, it was the story of the writer, a man called Nicholas Cage [sic], who’d written a book of his experiences, and the book became a best-seller and now it was being made into a movie. And the story is of Eleni, who was his mother, and his name was Nicholas and in the film his mother is Eleni and Nicholas begins as a boy of about 10 or 12, living in Greece. The whole film is set in Greece but we filmed it in southern Spain. So half the picture is about his life as a young boy, with his three sisters, which goes from the... before the First World War [sic], through the First World War [sic] and into the revolution in Greece when the Communists took over, so it's a long period of history. Well, when the boy is about 12, his mother arranges for him and his sisters to escape because the regime is getting so politicised and so dangerous that she fears for his safety, and so she plans his escape and a number of other people escape at the same time and he escapes with his sisters to America, where his father lives. His father has lived there for a number of years because he couldn't come back because of the war. So his father is in America. He escapes as a 12 year old boy. Shortly after that his mother is executed by... by firing squad – executed by the Communists. When Nicholas was in his forties, he went back to Greece to find out what had happened to his mother, to seek out the people who ordered her execution, and he finds the man who was responsible, whom we've already seen in the film, and he traps him and draws a gun on him and is about to shoot him when this man, who's then quite an old man, when this man's granddaughter appears in the background of the scene and Nicholas finds that he can't go through with it. He doesn't shoot him and he goes away and throws away the gun, and that's the true story.

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: 3 minutes, 3 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008