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Film and video


Walter Lassally Film-maker
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Well, the biggest documentary project that I was ever involved in was this Canadian film, Labyrinth, that I already mentioned, which was a multi-screen thing for the 1967 Montreal Exposition, World Exposition. And that was filmed all over the world in many different countries. In the whole of 1965... I was working for the Canadians for that project through nine months of 1965. We started in Montreal where we spent hours and hours preparing. They had an experimental setup set up there with the multi-screen theatre form, which was a cross form. There were five academy format screens in a cross format. One, two, three, four, five. And they had taken an old National Film Board of Canada film and they had re-edited it for five screens. And that was very interesting and it taught me the difference between seeing things sequentially and seeing things simultaneously. There's a big difference.

For instance, if you inter-cut a baby crying into the middle of a war scene with canons firing, you think, oh you know this is a bit... what would you say? Naff, a bit naff, let's say. If, on the other hand, you have a war scene playing on four screens and on the fifth screen you hold, throughout all these battles, you hold a shot of a baby crying, that has a completely different effect, and is much more subtle, much more subtle. So that taught me a lot. Then we went all over the world. We went to England, we went to Greece, we went to Cambodia, we went to India, although we didn't shoot in India because the Indo-Pakistani war broke out and we had to move on. But it was one of those occasions when... Ethiopia we went to. It was one of those occasions when I'm aware of... you become conscious of the fact that how lucky you are to be working in this kind of work, where your work takes you all over the world, to many interesting places, like Angkor Wat which I had the chance to see before it was all half destroyed. You have the chance to see all these wonderful places, and somebody else is paying the bills. It's a wonderful opportunity. And the Labyrinth project itself, when it finally reached Expo, when it was edited and finished, it had the biggest queue. There were queues round that building throughout the entire run of Expo, and it took an average of four and a half hours to get in, once you joined the queue. And I said, 'Not even... not for the second coming would I wait four and a half hours'.

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: Labyrinth, Angkor Wat

Duration: 2 minutes, 42 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008