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Michael Cacoyannis' directorial style


Meeting Michael Cacoyannis for the first time
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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I first went to Greece in 1955 when I was hired, sight unseen, by Michael Cacoyannis who had had a bad experience with his Greek cameraman on the film Stella, where I was told the end had to be re-shot three times, I think. And, Cacoyannis was in Cannes with the film, Stella, and he met Lindsay Anderson and they talked about the problems, and Cacoyannis was already preparing the next film which was going to be The Girl in Black, A Girl in Black. And he asked Lindsay if he knew anybody and Lindsay said, 'Yes, why don't you take Walter?' So he sent somebody to London to hire me, and make a contract. He hadn't seen me or he hadn't seen anything I'd done. He just took Lindsay Anderson's word for it. So I arrived one sultry August evening at Athens Airport, in August 1955, and waiting for me on the tarmac there were the three principle.... well, the two actors and Cacoyannis, Ellie Lambetti, Takis Horn and Michael, and they were all in evening dress. They were... I don't know what they were waiting for. I don't what they were expecting. They were expecting, I think, some sort of English gentleman, and off the plane stepped this schoolboy. Because at the time I was 28, looking, at the most, 18, and I can still remember they all stared at me like... that, that boy is going to photograph our movie? Anyway, the next day we made some tests and after that it all went swimmingly.

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: Stella, A Girl in Black, Lindsay Anderson, Michael Cacoyannis

Duration: 1 minute, 39 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008