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Something for Everyone: The air hall


Something for Everyone: A less than perfect technical solution
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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In the preparation period there was a slack moment and Kate and I went off to Vienna. We had a little look around Vienna. And when we came back, we discovered that, in our absence, in order to cover a scene where an aging priest has to ride a bicycle through a field, they had ordered a length of railway track, including a set of points. Now, the set of points I never discovered what that was for. But the railway track... they'd got this wonderful idea that as he was a bit rickety, he couldn't be trusted to ride a bicycle through a field, so they were going to mount him and his bicycle on this low railway carriage, like those things that they use, whatever it's called, for repairs. You know, they self-propelled along the railway. Buster Keaton did it in a movie, didn't he? The Railrodder. Anyway, one of those things. And they were going to mount this bicycle on this railway carriage, and somehow have it propelled. Because it was a field you couldn't see... it was hidden. So anyway, I soon scotched that... I said, 'I think we will find a somewhat simpler solution'. But that's the sort of thing that can happen when the people in charge don't really know what to do and they panic, because you're not around. They do something like that.

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 Railrodder, Buster Keaton

Duration: 1 minute, 27 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008