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The Day Shall Dawn: The cast and language problems


The Day Shall Dawn: Problems on location
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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Eventually we... we heard that the huts had been duly erected. It took, I think, at least a fortnight. We were sitting there twiddling our thumbs for quite a while. I kept thinking how nice it would've been to spend Christmas in England, but that was past history. So eventually we got our gear together, and having made as many preparations as we could, inspected the laboratory and said, well, it's a bit primitive but it works, and it had processed stuff before, so it wasn't the first time. So we set off for the village. That always involved a very lengthy procedure.

Oh yes, before we actually set off for the first shooting trip, we tried to hire a second launch, in case something happened to the first one, and maybe for some parallel activity. And they did manage to find a second vehicle... a second launch, which was slightly smaller than the first launch. But this second launch always had severe problems. In order to start it, they had to... the cylinder heads were all open, and in order to start it, somebody went round with a little oil can full of petrol, and he just injected petrol into the top of the cylinder heads. I think there are eight of them. But by the time he got to the last one, the first one always died so that launch only went once in the entire film. It only worked once and that was on the... in the last week. And in the last week we used that launch to go some way, distant way, from the village down to an inlet of the river, a little branch of the river, to do something or other, I can't remember. We got quite a way down and then it died, and we had to row back. Anyway, we got on our main launch and then the... then the palaver started about something is always missing, either the oil for the lamps, or the wicks for the lamps, or some part of the food. And then the captain started agitating because, as time went by, knowing we had a three-hour trip, or something, ahead of us, he kept saying, 'If we don't start now, I'm not going because there's the pirates, you know about the pirates, the pirates operate on this river and there's no way that I will leave here knowing I'm going to arrive at the other end in darkness. No, no, we... we either go now or we don't go at all'. So eventually we made some kind of compromise. Okay, so we don't have all the candles we might need; and we go.

The trip itself was very pleasant, very relaxing. A huge river, you couldn't see the other side by the time you got to... by the time you got down this river to the village of Shaitnol, the river was over a mile wide. You couldn't actually see the other side, the other bank. And the huts had been duly erected and we moved in. And the director and the assistant director occupied one hut. Each hut was divided into two rooms, which had a partition between them. It had a primitive, very primitive toilet, bathroom facilities. Buckets of water, basically. The director and the assistant director occupied one hut and I and John, with his wife, occupied the other hut. We didn't get an awful lot of sleep because dawn was reasonably early, about four o'clock in the morning. And at dawn the crows used to dance on the metal roof of the hut, which made quite a lot of noise. That was usually our wake-up call.

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: The Day Shall Dawn

Duration: 3 minutes, 45 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008