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The Day Shall Dawn: Achmed, rice crispies and little fish

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The Day Shall Dawn: meeting the head of the village
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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My experience of the Third World, again, came to a head, as it were, when we first went to that village. We were invited to meet the headman. The village had a headman, and we were invited to meet the headman and the family in one of the huts in the village. He had his hut in the village. We were invited and we shook hands, and that, and they were- now, would they be Muslims or Hindus? That I can't remember. They must have been Muslims because Bangladesh is- but not necessarily. It's a mixture. I don't remember which they were. But anyway, when you met those people, for all the formalities, you know, we were welcomed in the traditional manner. We shook hands and we sat there and we joined a drink and we were offered sweetmeats and then we all went about our business. But just after - just from that one meeting it was perfectly obvious that there can be no real contact between a westerner and people like that unless you live with them for years. You're not about to understand what it means to be a fisherman in that area, and particularly an area- The thing that struck me is that, if you live in an area which is regularly flooded and houses are regularly washed away and whole families are regularly washed away and killed- drowned, you develop a sort of fatalism. Because if you weren't fatalistic and you're in that situation, you can't get out of it and you know that sooner or later the floods will come and your house may be washed away, and your wife and your children may be drowned. If you haven't got a fatalistic attitude, you'd go mad. You and I put in that situation, we would go mad, because we couldn't get out of it and we couldn't accept it either. So you have to learn to accept it, that you're in that situation. So that taught me a kind of lesson as to the difficulties of meaningful contact between westerners and people in the Third World.

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.

Duration: 2 minutes, 14 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008