ON LOCATION Soldier's Leap
Drive a Porsche. Wear an Armani suit. ‘Product placement' in a movie is better than advertising because your brand is up there on screen, part of the characters’ everyday lives.
The List has its own cameo role to play in Soldier's Leap, a short film shot in and around Edinburgh in early October. Starring Rupert Graves and Ian Richardson, it marks the debut of Scottish actor Robert Cavanah as writer, producer and director. Cavanah, best known as DC Temple in the third series of Cracker and Heathcliff in a recent TV version of Wuthering Heights, will co-direct the film with commercials director lain McDonald.
The List makes its bid for stardom when Edinburgh lawyer Chris, played by Graves, discovers an ad in the magazine calling for crew members to join a working round- the-world yacht trip. Despite his rise up the corporate ladder, he's tempted to head off and live out his fantasy. Perhaps the decision lies within a recurring dream he’s having, where he’s the English Redcoat soldier fleeing the Highlanders at the Soldier’s Leap near Killiecrankie.
'Because there was such a feel for Rob Roy and Braveheart a couple of years back, I thought I'd try to incorporate a little more myth into a story with a classic urban dilemma,’ says Cavanah. ‘The whole morality is about"going with your heart rather than your head.’
Hollywood has an eye on Cavanah the actor at the moment, what with the imminent American release of Wuthering Heights and Indiana Jones-style feature Hanuman. For the time being, though, he's more interested in what might happen behind the camera. His production company will work next year on projects in Los Angeles and Vancouver with Northern Exposure's Rob Morrow (one feature is rumoured to come in at the $30 million mark), but for now it's time to cut teeth on
Setting sail: Rupert Graves on the Forth in Soldier's Leap Soldier’s Leap.
The short has allowed Cavanah to return to his home town of Edinburgh and cram in as many locations as possible: Arthur’s Seat, the New Town, Parliament Square, the Forth Road and Rail Bridges. And in conversation, it's clear he’s genuinely pleased to be doing something that draws upon the team spirit - including sharing the direCtorial chores.
'With two pairs of eyes, we cover all the aspects,’ says co-director Iain McDonald. ’Robert's coming from acting, I'm coming from corporate design and special effects, with a knowledge of composition and camera. Marry those together with two heads, and the chemistry will create something really special.’
’Well,’ agrees Cavanah, 'it works for the Coen brothers.’
! Soldier’s Leap will be screened at festivals next year.
Unbuttoning the corset drama: Minnie Driver and Jonathan Rhys Meyers in
the head of the hormonally
household and his
unbalanced teenage son.
’The contrasts in these two lives are
qmte strong,’ Goldbacher adds, ’from
a very close-knit family in the cosseted
JeWish quarter of London, to an
entirely different atmosphere living in
Scotland. I don’t think about this as
being a period film, though it's obvious
got a period setting. This is simply the
sort of subject matter that I’m
interested in: a film about relationships and cultural identity.’
The idea of reinvention, of spiritual growth through tragedy, is a recurring theme in Jewish culture and is a touchstone of this particular story.
a tale of anti-
Director of The Governess
If you’re gomg to make a film for the first time, received wisdom has it you should stick to what you know. For debutante writer-director Sandra Goldbacher, this meant contrasting the two distinct cultures of her background for The Governess.
’My father’s a Sephardic Jew who originally comes from Italy,’ Goldbacher explains in quietly spoken
tones. 'And my mother’s Scottish, her/
family are from the Isle of Skye. This story allowed me to combine those two different worlds.’
Semitism and triumph over adversity set in the early 19th tentuiy, boasts a
high quality cast iniIud-ni; \rIinnie Driver, Tom Wilkinson, Haiiiet Walter and star—on-the-rise Jonathan Rhys
Meyers. The origins of the project go back about three years, when Goldbacher began writing a diary in the character of Rosina - played in the film by Driver - who is forced to
desperate measures after her father is
murdered. She poses as a Gentile, and eventually gets a JOb with a dysfunctional family on Skye, acting as governess to a young girl and
With Driver delivering a compelling lead performance, Winning the hearts and sundry other body parts of the men in her new home, it also has a modern feel to it. And, although it’s set a hundred years before the Holocaust, the dark shadow cast by this horrific event even reaches backward to touch The Governess.
’My father escaped from Mussolini’s Italy,’ Goldbacher adds. '80 it’s always there. Those feelings are never far away.’ (Anwar Brett)
a Selected release from Fri 23 Oct. See review.
Michael Haneke Director of Funny Games
The horror movie is back in vogue, so yet again we can expect eager but inferior filmmakers to take the standard cliches and repeat them ad infinitum. Michael Haneke’s film Funny Games also has a familiar enough set- up — one happy family, a remote cottage, two nutters — but his cold, analytical approach subverts the psycho-thriller from within.
’Usually, the film industry is blamed for creating the images in this sex-and- crime cinema,‘ argues Haneke. ‘But, of course, the spectator has his own responsibility because, if he didn’t go to see these films, they wouldn’t be made. I want the spectator to see violence for what it really is: the suffering of the victims.’
That shift of emphasis, combined with a series of cinematic tricks which frustrate the viewer’s expectations, makes Funny Games the most uncomfortable big screen experience since Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer. The violence takes place almost entirely off-screen, but the close-ups on the victims’ agonised faces are intense and discomforting. The main obstacle for Haneke is not so much censorship — there’s nothing graphic to cut — but that his film might be categorised an ’art movie’ and by-pass the horror audience who are the real targets of his criticism.
’If the film doesn’t reach the audience it was intended for, then it’ll be the critics who are to blame,’ says the Austrian director. ’I definitely made this film for mainstream audiences. I think the shock of recognition will be far greater for the so—called "normal" horror viewer than for those who are already aware of the problem of screen violence.’
Funny Games won’t, therefore, be remade in America, like fellow European thrillers The Vanishing and Nightwatch. ’I could see it becoming something quite cynical and sadistic,’ Haneke warns. ’If I were to make the same film and not include the aesthetic effects of rupture and style, then it would be an unbearable film, a horrible film — and one that I wouldn’t want to see or recommend to other people.’ (Alan Morrison)
I Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 30 Oct. See review. Michael Haneke: experiment in terror
22 Oct-S Nov 1998 THE UST 31