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To Kill a Clown: Orson Welles


To Kill a Clown: The day for night sequence
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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That film contains the most effective, I would say, day for night sequence done by my system, which could not have been done... I can say quite categorically that that sequence could not have been done day for night other than in black and white. It could not have been done colour with any of the conventional ways. Well, there is only one conventional way really. It could not have been done that, because it's against the sky all the way. They escape. They make a run for it, at night. They wait till he's gone to bed, the lights go out in his house and they make a run for it. And they daub themselves with make-up to be dark. And there's a boat moored at the pier, and they make a run for this boat, and they untie it and they think they've got away, and then they discover that the boat has a second chain under the water, and they haven't managed to get away after all. But this... the basis of that sequence is a long tracking shot and panning shot where they run along from their house to the beach... to the... along the beach to the pier, and then along the pier and get into the boat. So you're going something, like, at least 180º across the back light, across the sun, basically, and it's very, very, believable moonlight. It's sort of very slightly... It's sort of steel blue, greyish blue and dark, and you have the black sky, but you can very clearly see all the figures. It looks to me, that is the most realistic moonlight that I've ever seen in any movie, and you're completely free to shoot against the sky. You couldn't have done that any other way. It's very successful.

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: To Kill a Clown

Duration: 1 minute, 48 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008