Filming the life of Irish criminal Martin Cahill has caused controversy for maverick director JOHN BOORMAN. Words, Anwar Brett
A man who operates outside the normal rules, who cocks a snook at the established order and who does his own thing. This description could apply to legendary Irish gangster Martin Cahill, anti-hero of The General, but it also fits the film's writer-director, veteran British filmmaker John Boorman.
Boorman, now 65, has been criss- crossing the globe for the best part of 30 years, choosing offbeat yet fascinating SUbJQCIS to turn into intelligent and challenging films, but his latest seems Certain to cause Controversy in some quarters. The making of the film typifies Boorman's own single-minded determination to see his proiects through to completion, With the minimum of outside interference.
’I share Martin Cahill's resentment of authority,‘ the director smiles, ’which is why I've produced all my films since Deliverance. For this one, we had no studio Involvement until after it was finished. We borrowed the money from a bank and It was a great
pleasure to have nobody breathing down my neck while we were shoohng/
Telling his tale With a sympathetic eye, the director developed his own Views on the Dublin-based crook, who resembled Robin Hood in that he stole from the rich, but he kept the loot to supplement his dole money
’I came away With very conflicting feelrngs,’ Boorman adds. ’Cahill had a great deal of wrt, he was a prankster and was very intelligent and cunning He felt he had the right to reject the sooety that rejected him, and he didn't accept any of society's rules, whether It came to marriage or anything else And he was motivated by a desire to get back at the institutions that had persecuted him -- the church and the police especially and to make them look as foolish as he could But he was
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Giving the orders: John Boorman on the set of The General
also capable of great brutality and those contradictions Interested me most about this story’
Just as any moVIe poses a number of challenges for a filmmaker, Boorman and his team might have expected particular problems In making their film on Dublin streets close to where Martin Cahill operated but Interference came from unexpected guarters
'Before we'd even started shooting, someone on the Irish edition of The Sunday Times got hold of the scrrpt,’ recounts the director 'They reported that our film glorified this crIrninal, glarnourising his life in a way that was disgusting and disgraceful That's a first for me having a film reVIewed before I'd even made It And, oddly enough, the tabloid press kept running stories about how our lives were being threatened by criminal gangs, of death
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threats and the like all of which was totally untrue ' Another film about Cahill, called Ordinary Decent Crirrrrna/, Is currently in production. What it won't have, of course, is the opportunity to tell the story first Nor Is It likely to have so perfect a star in the lead as Brendan Gleeson
'He's stunning In the filiii,’ Boorman enthuses, 'and he bears a remarkable resemblance to Cahill, He was the one l wanted for the role straight away, but of course there was pressure to get a bigger name But I was convrnced lie was the man, so I fought off all the others '
It's always best to stick to your prInCiples
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