A winter’s tale

Hissed as a villain and swooned over as a leading man, ALAN RICKMAN turns director for The Winter Guest. Braving the chills of Fife was only part of the experience. Words: Lila Rawlings

It wasn‘t stroppy luvvies refusing to come out of their trailers that gave Alan Rickman his biggest headache when he set out to make his debut feature. The Winter Guest. The toughest obstacle he faced was big. grey. wet and wouldn‘t take his direction the North Sea.

Adapted from a stage play by Scottish actress- turned-playwright Sharman Macdonald. 'I'lit' iii/tier Guest is set in a Scottish seaside town and is the story of four sets of characters and their variotts relationships. Rickman shot the film on location in l’ittenweem and lilie in the liast -.\'euk of Fife. where he had to find a convincing. cinematic way of representing the central metaphor of the play. the frozen sea. Eventually a Los Angeles computer effects company came to his rescue by sampling 75 different shots of ice and adding these to the frames as a backdrop.

Rickman found some unnerving similarities between the fictional town described in Macdonald's script and the real locations he shot in. ‘lt‘s a very decimated community in the sense that the fishing community has been completely destroyed by eel fishing or stealing.‘ he says. ‘lt was very similar to the town described in the film a ghost town full of holiday lets so it was a bit ironic that we didn’t have to create that. we just sprayed it white.‘

llaving directed Glasgow-born Phyllida Law in the play some years earlier. Rickman was keen to cast

‘i wanted it. teak iike an aiien place ~~ like a i’neonseape. it’s {great that Scotland can he a backdrop to a iiim that’s tit‘tiversai.‘ am. iticimma

The big chill: Alan Rickman, Phyllida Law and Emma Thompson on the set of The Winter Guest

the actress alongside her real-life daughter. Emma Thompson. who plays a recently widowed photographer. According to Rickman. this bit of quirky role-filling lead to some interesting on-screen moments.

‘There was certainly one scene. where the mother (Elspeth ) and daughter (Frances) are arguing about Frances leaving for Australia. that both of them said they found a little too close for comfort.‘ he confides. ‘lt’s also an interesting part for Emma. who is now the right age to play a mother herself. In the film her son is seventeen years old. and I think this role has enabled her to accept that fact and move on.’

Several of the film's strongest performances come from the youngest members of the cast. but Rickman seems totally unfazed by working with relatively inexperienced actors. ‘Working with two twelve-year- olds was great.’ he says. praising Scottish Youth Theatre. ‘They are so brilliantly uncomplicated about acting. There was none of this “Oh. I haven’t quite got it yet" stuff or “I want to go to my trailer for an hour". They just arrived and did it.‘

Rickman seems incredibly relaxed about his jump to the other side of the camera and. like Kenneth Brannagh. he sees the actor/director roles as totally interchangeable. ‘The only difference now is that. when | read a script. the big question is “Do I want to act it or do pictures come off the page that make me feel I want to direct it'.’".’ he says.

Although the film is set in Scotland. Rickman stresses that it should not be seen as specifically Scottish. ‘I wanted it to look like an alien place like a moonscape.‘ he explains. ‘I wanted it to feel like anywhere and nowhere. but I do think it’s great that Scotland can be a backdrop to a film that’s universal.’

Wrap up warm and go see if you agree.

Selected release from Fri 9 Jan. See review, page 42 and Famespotting feature, page 6.

preview FILM

Rough cuts

Name, the big screens!’

THE GOLDEN GLOBES are widely recognised as the film industry’s best indication of whose

mantlepiece will be straining under

the weight of an Oscar later this

year. Due to be announced on Sun

18 Jan, this key set of awards, voted

on by the 90 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, splits the Best Film, Actor and Actress Awards into separate Drama and Comedy/ Musical categories.

Hence the unexpected pat on the

back for The Full Monty, which sneaks into the latter batch, although its star, Robert Carlyle, misses out in the recently announced nominations. James

Cameron's romance-meets-disaster-

movie Titanic scooped ten nominations, and other front-

runners include L.A. Confidential,

Steven Spielberg’s slave revolt drama Amistad and the Jack Nicholson comedy As Good As It

Gets. Fingers crossed for Judi Dench

as Queen Victoria in the BBC Scotland film Mrs Brown.


SOCIETY continues to programme

excellent films at George Square

Theatre and The Pleasance. Its status

as a film club restricts The List‘s

ability to fully list its screenings -

three evenings each week but look out for highlights including Ridicule and Glengarry Glen Ross on Wed 14,

Burnt By The Sun and Prospero’s

Books on Tue 20 and La Belle Et La

Béte and The Passion Of Darkly

Noon on Thu 22 Jan. Guest tickets for single night's performances are

available from EUSA shops at £3; full membership costs £20 (£12 students). For more details on what's on, when and where call

0131 557 0436, pick up a programme or try http://www.ed.ac.uk/~filmsoc

for the Society's website.

Regal attitude: Judi Dench in Mrs Brown



9—22 Jan 1997 THE LIST”