Friday, 7 June 2013

Boorman on Boorman

A few months ago, I posted a recommendation of the film director John Boorman's excellent memoir, Adventures of a Suburban Boy (Faber and Faber, 2003), in which I considered the idea of one day offering a loose commentary on Boorman's work using quotes from the man himself.  This will be in lieu of an actual blog 'retrospective' - something I once deliberated - but nonetheless still intended to add to the critical discussion of Boorman's work, which at present seems non-existent.  The 'series' will begin in a few days with some quotes on the making of a film that Boorman himself has largely rejected, but which for me ranks as one of the greatest British films of the 1960s, Catch Us If You Can (1965). 

Earlier this year, I referred to the film as "a 'road movie', but a road movie punctuated by Boorman's typically surreal lyricism", before further defining it as "a formless narrative full of car chases and fancy dress sequences, underscored by an aching loneliness and an atmosphere of cold, wintery despair."  It was a film sold as a pop-musical, post-A Hard Day's Night (1964), but is really punctuated by "a feeling of intense sadness; where the spirit of youthful rebellion is already being sold as a pop commodity, and where the characters try to escape into a mythical landscape of rural, post-industrial decay."
 

John Boorman directing Barbara Ferris, Catch Us If You Can (1965): 

Boorman, for me, is one of the great British filmmakers.  A fascinating eccentric committed to maintaining that "lost grace in the film-making process, where the material things of the world – money, buildings, sets, plastic, metal, people – disappear into a camera and become nothing but light and shadow flickering on a wall."  While Boorman is primarily acclaimed for films like Point Blank (1967), Deliverance (1972) and to a lesser extent Hope and Glory (1987), the full breadth of his vision can be found in films like Catch Us If You Can, Leo the Last (1970), Zardoz (1974), Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), Excalibur (1981), The Emerald Forest (1985), The General (1998) and The Tiger's Tail (2006); the majority of which are still awaiting their critical reappraisal.