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Memoirs of a Survivor: 'Not a complete success'


Memoirs of a Survivor: A fantasy story
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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The next film I made was in England and was called Memoirs of a Survivor, based on Doris Lessing's novelette. And that is also fantasy, largely fantasy. It takes place in London, or in some city. Actually, it is London, but it's not all that recognisably London. There's a tube station in it somewhere, so it must be London. But, after not... it was misunderstood... a lot was misunderstood because they thought it was after some holocaust event, some atomic bomb or something, but it's not, it's just that the conditions in the city have deteriorated to such an extent. The government only functions off and on, sometimes there's water, sometimes there isn't any water, you buy an egg and when you crack it open it's got a chick inside because it's past its sell-by date. And Julie Christie plays a character who is only identified as D, the initial D. In the credits, it says D is played by Julie Christie. And, it also has an animal in it, which is described in the novel as half cat and half dog, so that was a little difficult to cast. But David Gladwell, the director, whom I'd known since early days of the BFI, when we used to go and see his... he made a series of slow-motion shorts. He's a very clever user of slow motion. All his shorts... nearly all the shorts he made were centred on slow-motion sequences. And this was his first feature, but it wasn't the first time that I worked with him. I'd worked with him a few years earlier doing supplementary shots for a film called Requiem for a Village.

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: Memoirs of a Survivor, London, Requiem for a Village, Doris Lessing, David Gladwell, Julie Christie

Duration: 1 minute, 44 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008