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After finding a commercial niche

in America with the likes of Green Card and Witness, director Peter Weir returns to the mystical style of his early Australian movies in Fearless. He talks to Alan Morrison.



Fearless: ‘the magniiicent Jeii Bridges’ psychiatrists and ambulance-chasing lawyers.

‘l was not interested in making any points about the therapeutic process.‘ Weir insists. ‘This is a lone journey without precedent. l have never really except the Vietnam War period ~ been political. but. yes. the artistic life or the creative life is a solitary one. I'm Australian. from a European background; not quite at home there. not quite at home in Europe. 80 maybe something in this has influenced me to choices of characters who are taking long trips of one

kind or another.

‘I don't believe in style for its own sake. and i never wanted to become a prisoner of style. In the 70s. 1 was often referred to as the director of mystical kinds ofthings. and l wanted to break from that. Yet here‘s something with a subject that required in order for the audience to enter the state of mind of this character and situation the same tools . . . But the film is no polemic. There's no message. no dogma. It‘s a series ofquestions and we follow the experiences ofthese people; but there is. for me. some sense ofongoing thinking about this subject. in my joumey in life, at this point. I am extremely open to a belief that there is something beyond the material life.‘

Fearless opens at the Glasgow Film Theatre.

Edinburgh Film/rouse. Edinburgh UCI and UCI

Clvdebank on Friday 22 April.

San Francisco. that mysterious city. then there was no

comparable Italian community. but there was clearly

3 a Latino community. And there was never any question of the halfdozen Latino actresses I saw that it wouldn’t be Rosie Perez. For lsabella. we had |

discussed working together in l984 for Witness.

when I was wondering if she would be interested in

playing the Amish woman [Kelly McGillis in the final version], but she was unfortunately unavailable.

This part was not written fora foreign-born

American. but 1 sensed we needed an element of

mystery in who this woman was and what her background might have been.‘

Already Weir has mentioned mystery twice. in terms of setting and characterisation. it‘s something that permeates the whole movie. in the same way as it did in his earlier work. such as Plt'llit‘ At Hanging Rock and The last Ware. Fearless is not a straight disaster movie. and its detractors will probably be those who find it difficult to reconcile the director‘s blend of the reality of post-traumatic stress and the metaphysical. quasi-religious sense of rebirth that Max Klein undergoes. This is a very individualistic exploration of the profound effects a near-death experience can produce. and the film makes a much more powerful impact by concentrating on Klein's healing influence, which transcends the typical American professional responses by well-meaning

The shot of a deep wound carved into the earth by a crashed aeroplane death and debris scattered widely around sends a cold chill of recognition along the spines of Scottish film-goers. even with the cushion of several years since the Pan-Am flight exploded over Lockerbie. Guiding shocked survivors from the wreckage is fellow passenger Max Klein. the proverbial calm in the eye of the storm. Having come to terms. only moments ago, with the fact of his death only to live on unexpectedly Klein appears detached from the horrors around him. Convinced that he is blessed with immortality. his reassessment of the details of his everyday life puts pressure on his wife and son, but may well prove the only positive influence for Carla. a young mother who blames herself for her baby's death in the crash. It‘s a testament of the acting abilities of the magnificent Jeff Bridges that Klein is simultaneously the most and least crazy person on Earth. Credit is also due to an exceptional supporting cast lsabella Rossellini and an Oscar—nominated Rosie Perez. who create the believable context into which Klein’s unrealistic response is placed.

‘Originally. the story was set in New York and Carla was from the ltalian community.‘ explains director Peter Weir. ‘When i decided to relocate the story to

_ Death in the family

‘it’s good to be able to write a movie that’s got a set oi murderers in it and no detectives. Murderers are much more interesting.’ Aiter ten years oi writing Taggart, Glenn Chandler is relishing the creative ireedom oiiered by his ilrst screenplay, Deadly Advice. Ito longer does the policeman have all the good lines and the murderer

call The Classic Age 0i British Murder,’ he says. ‘I wanted well known ones as well as less known ones, like George Joseph Smith and Kate Webster; also, a variety oi methods and characters I had two poisoners, a drowner, a chopper-upper and a slasher.’ A motley crew indeed, and

one that the Edinburgh-born writer recounts with a slightly disturbing cheeriulness.

But the script, and the iinished iilm, are certainly not all doom and gloom. These are the macabre guardian angels who pop up with a chirpy word oi advice ior oppressed Hay-on-Vlye resident Jodie (Jane Horrocks),

killers are played by an impressive cast - Billie Whitelaw, Sir John Mills, Edward Woodward, Hywel Bennett and Jonathan Hyde all oi whom bring a touch oi British eccentricity to what is a rare, original, British-iunded movie that doesn’t smack oi television let out oi its box onto the big screen.

‘l never thought it was comedy when I was writing it,’ continues Chandler. ‘People put labels on things like “iilm noir” and “black comedy”, but that way is paved with accidents. I just wanted to let the story tell the tale, and comedy will come out oi it ii it will. And you can’t write a iilm with six murderers in it without making it

remain masked until the last momani; 1"" "mu": “'Mm’m" "pm" helping her knock oii, iirst, her mother iunny.’ (AM) here he can brine to lite the likes oi without a peep from Mark McManus. than anyone else who gets in the way. Deadly Advice opens in Scotland on Fri Jack ‘ihe Ripper and Br Crippen ‘They’re all murderers from what I A m| me chamber of hams, me 29 April.

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26 The List 22 April—5 May 1994