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Our documentary rejected at film festivals


The discovery of Higgs boson and a new ending to our film
Walter Murch Film-maker
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I got involved after Hemingway & Gellhorn, a project that I was going to do fell through some... As a result of the economic uncertainties of the world at that moment. And I... Mark [Levinson] sent me a copy of the film, saying, 'Do you want to work on this film?' Or rather, 'What do you think of this cut?' There was... he had an assembly of it done. And I thought, 'Well, it's good, and here's some suggestions.' And then, one thing led to another, and he suggested, 'Why don't you come to New York and work for a couple of months on the film before you get your next assignment?' And I was at loose ends, and, 'Okay, let's do it.'

I moved to New York, and started working on this film. I love science and physics, and my... the things I choose to read at night as I go to sleep are all mostly popularisations of science, or things along that line. So I already knew something about what was going on. So, on a certain level, I didn't have to be brought up to speed. Of course, there was a lot for me to learn, specifically, about what this actually was, and how best to tell it as a story. But I was not completely innocent about particle physics, coming into it.

And after working for a couple of months on the film, we began to hear drum beats from Geneva, kind of, jungle drum, so to speak, saying, 'Something's going to happen in July.' And the closer we got to that date, it became obvious that they were going to announce that they had discovered the Higgs. And this was fantastic news. On the other hand, it meant that we had to shoot that, obviously. And that information meant that we had to change how the film was going to end, because now we had a real ending for the film, rather than it just, kind of, petering out and saying: more work has to be done. We actually had a fantastic ending to the film.

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: Mark Levinson

Duration: 2 minutes, 26 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2016

Date story went live: 29 March 2017