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How Oscars became a cultural icon


Death of Anthony Minghella
Walter Murch Film-maker
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So, also, what happens, and happened tragically in the case of Anthony Minghella, is that he died unexpectedly in 2008, in the spring of 2008, as a result of an operation, where he... We all expected him to recover very well, and a week later, he had died. And I was in Argentina at the time, working on Tetro, and heard the news. My son had been looking online and suddenly saw this news that Anthony had died. And I made arrangements as soon as possible, flew back to London from Argentina to be at his memorial service.

But I absolutely not only enjoyed, but it was a deeply rewarding experience, working with Anthony. And I had, kind of, assumed, because Anthony was ten years younger than me, that this is it, you know, I would just continue... That I would die first. And we would continue working together on film after film, and it was not to be. Looking back at my... The films that I worked on, I can see the, from a distance, the shock of that, and the repercussions of that, in a sense, over the last... Well, it's been eight years since he died.

I still think he's still here, you know. It's an all too frequent reaction to the death of somebody, especially somebody younger than you, that... with whom you have a deep creative relationship. So it's a very sad thing in my working experience, and I've never... The first and only time that I've experienced that. And I'm still... Part of me is still trying to figure it out.

Born in 1943 in New York City, Murch graduated from the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television. His career stretches back to 1969 and includes work on Apocalypse Now, The Godfather I, II, and III, American Graffiti, The Conversation, and The English Patient. He has been referred to as 'the most respected film editor and sound designer in modern cinema.' In a career that spans over 40 years, Murch is perhaps best known for his collaborations with Francis Ford Coppola, beginning in 1969 with The Rain People. After working with George Lucas on THX 1138 (1971), which he co-wrote, and American Graffiti (1973), Murch returned to Coppola in 1974 for The Conversation, resulting in his first Academy Award nomination. Murch's pioneering achievements were acknowledged by Coppola in his follow-up film, the 1979 Palme d'Or winner Apocalypse Now, for which Murch was granted, in what is seen as a film-history first, the screen credit 'Sound Designer.' Murch has been nominated for nine Academy Awards and has won three, for best sound on Apocalypse Now (for which he and his collaborators devised the now-standard 5.1 sound format), and achieving an unprecedented double when he won both Best Film Editing and Best Sound for his work on The English Patient. Murch’s contributions to film reconstruction include 2001's Apocalypse Now: Redux and the 1998 re-edit of Orson Welles's Touch of Evil. He is also the director and co-writer of Return to Oz (1985). In 1995, Murch published a book on film editing, In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing, in which he urges editors to prioritise emotion.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Anthony Minghella

Duration: 2 minutes, 19 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2016

Date story went live: 29 March 2017