BBC Radio 4, 29-31 March 2011
In a series of three readings produced by Duncan Minshull, three great
directors described their adventures in the movie business.
Luis Bunuel's "My Last Breath," read by Ian McDiarmid, recalled the difficulties
of filming such seminal works as Un Chien Andalou and L'Age D'Or. He had to raise the money as well as find
a suitable distributor. It was only due to the generosity of his friends, plus the far-sightedness of those with little money
but a passionate interest in film, that helped his works reach the screen. Even then Bunuel expected the worst: he admitted
that he kept some stones in his pocket to throw at the audience witnessing the premiere of Un Chien Andalou, if they
should dare to boo at what they saw.
Francois Truffaut's letters, read by Ben Miles, were penned to a variety of correspondents,
both friendsand fans. Sometimes he confessed the difficulties of writing screenplays almost as he went along during filming;
on other occasions - to some of his fans - he adopted a lofty tone, thanking them for their interest in his work yet politely
refusing any offers to direct genre pictures, or write screenplays based on formula plots. Truffaut remained committed to
his beliefs; not that they remained particularly stable. He only pursued the projects he wanted to do; mostly in French, and
centering round idiosyncratic characters.
Wim Wenders' "Wings of Desire," read by Stephen Dillane, looked at the background
to the making of the film of the same name, Wenders' first in his native language for quite some time. Filmed in Berlin, it
had angels as its central theme; this gave Wenders the freedom to be able to go where he wished, even though the city was
still divided by the Berlin Wall. Wenders described in detail the process of engaging Peter Falk in a cameo role in the belief
that he would be more 'universally' known to audiences, and hence make the film's basic message more apparent. Wenders
admitted to being a meticulous writer, even though he took advice from his directors of photography while on location.
While the three readings were widely different in terms of tone, but they showed
how difficult the filmmaking process could be - particularly for those directors who assumed total responsibility for their
work without studio interference.