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Oedipus the King: Appreciating the work of a cameraman


Oedipus the King: Crossing the line
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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It was my first and only film with Philip Saville who'd done main... mostly television up to that point, I think. Because it was all confined to this... nearly all confined to this theatre, the question of the famous line became important. What you... so it's planned in such a way that you don't suddenly cross the line without knowing it. He said, 'Yes, yes, that's fine, no problem'. So we planned that first we'll do this and then we'll do that, and that also always created problems with Christopher Plummer because whatever we planned... if we'd planned a long shot, Christopher would say, 'But look if this scene has to be like this, I whisper'. And if we'd planned close-up line, he said, 'But Philip, in this take I leap, I make these large hand gestures, he said, it has to be loose. It was always wrong'. Or he used to look at the track that was being laid, and he'd look at the track and he'd look at Philip, and he'd look at the track like he was an absolute idiot, you know. How can you possibly want a track here?

Born in Germany, cinematographer Walter Lassally (1926-2017) was best known for his Oscar-winning work on 'Zorba the Greek'. He was greatly respected in the film industry for his ability to take the best of his work in one area and apply it to another, from mainstream to international art films to documentary. He was associated with the Free Cinema movement in the 1950s, and the British New Wave in the early 1960s. In 1987 he published his autobiography called 'Itinerant Cameraman'.

Listeners: Peter Bowen

Peter Bowen is a Canadian who came to Europe to study and never got round to heading back home. He did his undergraduate work at Carleton University (in Biology) in Ottawa, and then did graduate work at the University of Western Ontario (in Zoology). After completing his doctorate at Oxford (in the Department of Zoology), followed with a year of postdoc at the University of London, he moved to the University's newly-established Audio-Visual Centre (under the direction of Michael Clarke) where he spent four years in production (of primarily science programs) and began to teach film. In 1974 Bowden became Director of the new Audio-Visual Centre at the University of Warwick, which was then in the process of introducing film studies into the curriculum and where his interest in the academic study of film was promoted and encouraged by scholars such as Victor Perkins, Robin Wood, and Richard Dyer. In 1983, his partner and he moved to Greece, and the following year he began to teach for the University of Maryland (European Division), for which he has taught (and continues to teach) biology and film courses in Crete, Bosnia, and the Middle East.

Tags: Oedipus the King, Philip Saville, Christopher Plummer

Duration: 58 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008