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Fragments of Isabella


Memoirs of a Survivor: 'Not a complete success'
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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I'd made a film with him earlier called Requiem for a Village where I wasn't the principal cameraman, but I did a lot of supplementary shots. Rather like I did on Together, with Lindsay Anderson, but more so. Anyway, that was his first feature and... first real feature, full feature. And, it was made under somewhat unfortunate circumstances, because it was ready to be produced, the script was ready, but the money wasn't there, and then suddenly the money came through, but, they said, 'But you must make it before the end of the year otherwise the money goes back to whatever'.

So, the preparations were somewhat inadequate, particularly the preparations for the split-screen work, because a major feature in this film is in the flat where D lives. There is a wall that proves to be penetrable. She can walk through the wall. She discovers that... she walks through the wall and there's a whole different world, partly Victorian world, which is on the other side of the wall. So we had to find a way of doing that, and there are various ways of doing it but we weren't... we used a mixture in the end. We weren't totally prepared. And the art department was very deficient, because all they could think of... to set the atmosphere of this post-holocaust, but not post-holocaust, disrupted city, let's say. The atmosphere of this disrupted city, all they could think of was to fill the street with black- overflowing black rubbish bags. That was about it. So that... it left certain things to be desired.

So for that reason it's not a complete success. To my mind, the Victorian sequences, the things that happen beyond the wall are very successful and very well done. Those I like. The realistic side I don't like all that much. It has shortcomings. But it's a film which didn't have any kind of a success. It came and went quite quickly. And it's a shame because it was made the year before Channel 4 started. It's a perfect Channel 4 film. But as it's made before Channel 4 started, it came and went in the cinemas very quickly and also on television it never caused any kind of... there wasn't much critical success and David never made another film. Another one of those who never made another film. He went back to his work as editor and he still works as editor.

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: Requiem for a Village, Together, Lindsay Anderson

Duration: 2 minutes, 20 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008