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Savages: The story


Savages: Ismail Merchant and James Ivory
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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The next film we made... I made with Merchant Ivory was Savages. And Savages was Merchant Ivory's first American film. Because, up to that point, all their films had been made in India, and they lived in India. Merchant, of course, is Indian, and Ivory is American, born in Oregon. And Ivory had made a... James had made a documentary about Venice and a documentary about some Indian subject, Indian miniatures, I think, which is where he met Ivory... where he met Merchant, excuse me. And Savages was their first American production.

And for Savages the money was given by... provided by some Iranian financier, whose name is on the film. And it was made for a production company other than Merchant Ivory. That's to say jointly. That's very often the case. If you look at the titles, in the early days anyway, you would often see that it's a production... so and so production, Angelica, I think it was called in Savages, jointly with Merchant Ivory... in association with, all that sort of thing. Of course these days you frequently have eight associate producers and five executive producers. I always remind me... That always reminds me of the Olsen and Johnson joke, which is I think is somewhere in Hellzapoppin, where they have this long, long credit list where, everything is done by Olsen and Johnson, and then it says, directed by H E Potter, in brackets, a friend of Olsen and Johnson. The credits often remind me of that kind thing.

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: Merchant Ivory, Hellzapoppin, Savages, James Ivory, Ismail Merchant, H E Potter

Duration: 1 minute, 35 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008