different way of moving. So it‘s not me — I can sit there and watch the film because I can be divorced from the image that‘s on the screen. But here. there‘s no distance character-wise. People ask me questions about the film. but I feel like I‘ve not seen it.‘
The film's politics obviously struck a chord with llart. At various points in conversation. he goes off on a tangent about the social state of play in Britain or the themes in the forthcoming films he has worked on gay rights issues in The Hollow Reed. a sympathetic understanding of Protestant attitudes of those born after the Troubles began in All Our Faults). l.oach has said be cast Land And Freedom with actors who he believed would have joined up during the Spanish Civil War. ‘In different circumstances. yeah.‘ says Hart. ‘and I‘d have been accompanied by ten of my friends. But those circumstances don‘t exist any more.‘ It‘s clear that [end And Freedom was more meaningful than previous film experiences.
Clockwork Mice. released next week. also has a social edge. Hart plays a teacher in a special needs school who bonds with one boy through their shared love of running. Although reasonably pleased with the result. Hart is ambivalent about the feel-good factor in a film the producer pitched as ‘1)ead Poets Society meets Chariots Of Fire‘. For Hart. there‘s a conflict between cinematic resolutions and reality.
‘All films are directors‘ films.‘ he explains. ‘I don‘t have any control over editorial decisions. Out of seven takes. he‘ll use the one he wants; or he‘ll leave that scene out or put that scene back in. Myjob is to serve the director‘s vision of how he sees the film. I‘m not being negative about Clockwork Mice. and I‘m not being negative
IAN HART FEATURE
Ian Hart (left) as a young John Lennon, with Stephen Dortt's Stuart Sutclme in Backheat
about any part of the process. it‘s just that I would have made a different film from that script. It's very light at times: I would have gone against that.
‘lf you go to the real schools. it‘s a different kettle of fish. lt's twice as extreme as what you see in the film. The kids have really. really shit experiences. it's unbelievable. During the summer holidays. they‘ve got to go back and be in some of the worst environments — being raped by their uncles. and things. If you‘re in that environment. then you can break the school up. smash everyone‘s heads in. because that’s not abnormal behaviour; it‘s just contextualised. you know. In the film. the teachers are too
‘In Backbeat, I’ve got a wig on, and I’ve got brown contact lenses on my eyes, and my ears stuck back with glue . . . so it’s not me. I can sit there and watch the film because I can he divorced from the image that’s on the screen.’
successful in the way they communicate. because it takes years for some of them to build up a relationship even slightly.‘
A glance at Hart‘s CV shows he co-directed a stage production of Dog Day Afternoon in Liverpool. Would he like to exert more control over the creative process by writing and directing for the big screen?
‘I can‘t write my name. you know.‘ he says in all seriousness. ‘l have a real problem with reading and writing. I don‘t know what it is. I can do it. I went to school. I know how to read and write. but . . . I probably haven‘t put pen to paper now for a couple of years. apart from signing my name. So the longer the gap is. the
less likely I‘m going to be able to get back into the swing. Last time I had to write. I couldn‘t spell a single word. I’m just not used to it.
‘I feel a need to express myself in some way. and so the shortest point is between the brain and the mouth. It may not be the best way. because when you write. you have to add an extra process. so you are self-editing all the time. Even Kerouac. who claimed to write spontaneous prose. was. in his mind, having to edit things because different parts of the brain do different functions. As human beings with the facility of language. have an immediate form of expression. so sometimes you say things without thinking. and that can be a problem.’
This perhaps explains the sense of honesty that comes over in Hart’s screen work and in person. There’s no place in his world view for any bullshit. With his slightly sharp nose. receding chin and thinning hair. he‘s not exactly matinee leading man material. but there’s an ordinariness about him. a quiet strength that is very reassuring. It’s this quality which draws an audience into the character; Hart is able to make whoever he’s playing seem accessible. slightly vulnerable. well-intentioned and appealing. all at the same time.
“He‘s totally believable as a teacher — very sympathetic and he’s got real presence.‘ agrees Clockwork Mice director Vadim Jean. ‘1 once asked him who his favourite actor was. and he said Gene Hackman. I can see why. as he has very similar qualities — a very strong element to him . . . He also rnucks in wonderfully and spent half the time helping out the grips.‘ D Clockwork Mice opens on Friday 23 June; see Film section for review. Land And Freedom has its British Premiere at the Drambuie Edinburgh Film Festival in August.
The List l6—29 Jun 199515