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The joy of of camera operating


The Viking Sagas: 'I was not meant to be a great director'
Michael Chapman Film-maker
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Everybody should go out and read them. They are to the novel what The Iliad is to poetry, and... and just as poetry has not gotten any better since The Iliad, the novel has not gotten any better since The Iceland Sagas [sic]. They're extraordinary... absolutely extraordinary prose. And I became obsessed with them. I had known them as a young man, but the various new translations of them came out in the '80s and I began reading them again, and read them over and over and over, and read all of them and studied them, and read old translations. I became quite obsessed with them. And they seemed to be screaming out to be made into a movie. And I later found out that they have been, in fact... that many European directors... mostly European directors have tried for years to make movies out of them, and never quite solved them, which, God knows, I didn't... solve how to make them. And they never have quite done it. Bergman, I think, wanted to and various other people wanted to, because they... they are so extraordinarily cinematic.

I didn't succeed in solving the problems, but it was... in this case, it was not entirely my fault. It was also some casting and things that were forced on me by the studio that was backing it up... backing the movie. And there was very little chance it was going to work. It has some nice things in it and has some really... it's kind of like Peter Brook's [The] Mahabharata; it's not at all... That's something to speak about, by the way. Does anybody... That you should get. You should go... you should interview him and talk about The Mahabharata. It's one of the great pieces of cinema of all time, and it was hardly an influence on the Sagas, but the kind of pageantry in it impressed me very much. Because at the same time I was reading the Sagas, I was watching The Mahabharata over and over again. Although I think Peter Brook could have done a better job with The Icelandic Sagas than I did, I think. Anyway, that's really all there is for me to say about directing. I was not meant to be a great director, and I proved it. But I do like All the Right Moves and am rather proud of it. And some of the Icelandic stuff is kind of nice. But, fortunately, you'll never get a chance to see it.

Michael Chapman (1935-2020), an American cinematographer, had a huge influence on contemporary film-making, working on an impressive array of classic films including 'Taxi Driver', 'Raging Bull', 'The Lost Boys' and 'The Fugitive'.

Listeners: Glen Ade Brown

British Director of Photography and Camera Operator Glen Ade Brown settled in Los Angeles 10 years ago.

He has been working on features, commercials and reality TV. He played an instrumental role in the award-winning ABC Family series "Switched" and is also a recipient of the Telly and the Cine Golden Eagle awards for Best Cinematography. He was recently signed by the Judy Marks Agency and is now listed in her commercial roster.

Tags: The Icelandic Sagas, The Iliad, Iceland, The Mahabharata, Peter Brook

Duration: 2 minutes, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2004

Date story went live: 29 September 2010