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Autobiography of a Princess


Savages: Editing and the screening at Cannes
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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They went on to the editing in the States. And about nine to ten months after the shooting finished, I was just about... I was expecting a call that I should go over there and doing the grading. I got the call and I went over there and they had... Ismail in his usual way had taken the cheapest laboratory that he could find, and there's quite a few good laboratories in New York, but he decided not to use... the laboratory, which, as far as I could discover, the only thing remotely like a feature film, that they'd done up to that point, were Mexican porno movies. And, I went there and we had terrible trouble. Because certain faults that there were, instead of correcting the individual scene... Well, there were certain reels that had an overall colour cast, like the whole reel was slightly too green. It was something to do with the processing, not to do with the individual shots. So they started correcting the individual shots. And I said, no you mustn't do that because then you will end up with the same problem when you put the whole reel... when the whole reel is correctly processed, then it'll all be wrong again in relation to the other reels. And we made copy after copy after copy and eventually the owner of the lab came... went to Ismail Merchant and said, 'Well, surely that's all right'. He said, 'What're you trying to do, bankrupt me?' And we ended up with something that was less than perfect, but we had to accept it.

At the same time Ismail suddenly said, probably a day or two before I actually left London, Ismail said, we're going to use the opportunity of your being in the States to take a few extra shots. Well the few extra shots ended up being half the movie, about, I should think, about 10 minutes of the movie is shot 10 months later, completely separately. The whole of the cellar sequence was very much extended. The sequence with the little train, that was all done subsequently, and several other bits and pieces were shot 10 months after the main movie was shot. But I think the result... I think in the end, the result is very satisfactory and, as I said, it became one of my great favourites, as a movie. And it was shown at Cannes. And then it was shown at Cannes, not in the festival, but as... there was a special kind of showing in a little cinema in the old town. There was a tremendous... it was quite a small cinema and there was a tremendous crush trying to get in there. Kate, who was in there, trying to get into the performance, was poked in the stomach by, with an umbrella by some French critic trying to get in. They nearly broke the doors down. They had double glass doors and they took them off their hinges trying to get in to see that movie.

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, 59 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008