Parts of Runaway 'I‘ratn were shot in l.os Angeles and Montana with location work tn Alaska. Despite the hitter cold and the prohlems inherent in working on hoard a fast moving goods train the film was completed in 57 days and within hudget. Koncltalovsk‘y is an efficient economically-minded director who likes his films to work on several lev cls. Runaway Train is no exception. ‘A good script comhines sev eral layers of thought. There should he a simple. strong premise that provides something that can he understood and etttoyed hy the simplest person who can have a good time; laugh. cry. he thrilled or w liatev er. 'l'hen there is perhaps a metaphorical level and some kind of philosophy. liv ery person should get some kind of kick out of it. The train is a s_\ mhol for whatever you want it to he — a prison. a freedom. our civilisation running out of control. the arms race. whatever.’
()ne envisages a great disparity hetween the freedoms and constraints operating on a director in l lollyw ood as opposed to those lacing his counterpart in Russia hut Konchalovsky perceivesonly similarities. ‘Basically there is no difference] he explains. ‘Film is connected with money: the people who give it like to get it hack whether linked to the State or to private capital. 'I'here is a sense of responsihility. If a film is anti-Soviet you don‘t take it to the State. ifit is anti-( iqu and Western you don‘t go to Paramount. In America the restrictions come from marketing controls. Some directors like Lean or (‘oppola have more clout.others work on a commercial mass production line. In Russia some directors have more right to negotiate personal freedoms. others are on an ideological mass production line.‘
Konchalovskyk artistic pedigree is impeccahle. l lis lather was President of the Writers Association. his mother a poet. his grandfather a maior impressionist painter. and his great grandfather was \"asili Surikov. one of the greatest Russian painters of all. Konchalovsky studied film at the Moscow Film School and won a Best Short Film Prize for his school project Boy and the Pigeon at the 19h: Venice Film Festival. A man for all seasons. he has written scripts for his hrother. director Nikita Mikliakov. and for Andrei 'l‘arkovsky's Andrei Rub/er. He also acted in 'l'arkovsky's lvan's (’luldlzood and has directed an eclectic range of projects from ('hekov's l 'nele l'anya to the four hour saga of Russian oil-workers -— Siberuule. l le descrihes himself as ‘curious to try different genres' and was prompted to go West hecause the industry there is ‘undouhtedly the leading power in the world of cinema.‘
During the wilderness years of waiting to make his Western hreakthrough Koncltalovsky wrote scripts in Paris. taught at Pepperdine L'niversity and acted as a consultant
to other companies. A documentary.
Split ( 'Iierry 'l’ree. h rou ght him an Oscar nomination and then .llaria's Lovers hegan his prodttetive union with the (‘annon group. Now. all the unrealised scripts will hegin to see the light of day as he works througli his contract. He has already completed the film version of'l‘om Kempinski’s Due/for ()ne starring Julie Andrews and Alan Bates and is currently directing Eugene ()neet'n on stage in Milan. In Septemher he hegins another film: .S'liy People. the story of a clash hetween two mothers ofvery different hackgrounds. Set in Louisiana and originally planned for Shirley Macl.aine it will now team Jill (‘layhurgh and Barhara llershey ()n the schedule for 1987 is a remake
ofthe hrilliant l‘)7t)film lnt‘es‘u'gaIunt ofa ( 't'u':en :lhove Suspicion. The script is hy Paul Schrader and Al Pacino will star.
Somehow. some time. Konchalovsky still harhours the notion of realising a Russian-American co-produetion on the life of Rachmaninov. "l‘hc script is written and approved hy the Soviet authorities. I even have a cheque for five million dollars from (‘annon It is now up to the Soviet authorities and they seem uncomfortahle with the idea of a director like me who goes hack and forth. 'l‘hey would prefer me as a prodigal son. returning and saying I was wrong. 'I'hey say I must come hack and
change my place of residence to the Soviet L'nion. It is very personal. almost like a parent's attitude to a disohedient child. I feel that a pragmatic attitude will eventually prevail.’ _
lf Konchalovsky‘s dream project is some way off. the indefatigahle director is still hursting with the creativity ofa man too long denied his rightful place hehiud the camera lens. Like the protagonistsol Runaway 'l‘ram he has escaped from a personal prison of enforced idleness and is making every moment one ofsweet liherty. Runaway Train opens a! (he ()(leon. Edinburgh and ()(leon. Glasgow on JJu/y.
The List 27 June — 1() July 5