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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Figuring The Dots

The late British director Alan Clarke seems to have made quite an impact. Especially his last film, the 40-minute "Elephant", was a landmark for at least these 3 filmmakers:

a) Danny Boyle: credited as "producer" of Elephant.

According to dvdoutsider this is how Elephant begun:

The project was originally the brainchild of producer Danny Boyle, later a director of some note himself (do we really need to mention Trainspotting and 28 Days Later? No, I thought not). Having landed a producer's job at BBC Northern Ireland, he became aware that many of the shootings taking place in the province were going unreported on the mainland, presumably because they involved ordinary citizens rather than politicians or others the English press deemed newsworthy. He was also a huge fan of Alan Clarke, and having written to him and been invited onto the set of Clarke's previous 'walking movie' Christine (1987), he hired him with this project in mind, and the two worked together to develop the film to its present form. The decision to shoot, so to speak, on the streets of Belfast was a brave one given that local people were living the reality of the situation on a daily basis, but this not only adds to the documentary-like authenticity, it also provides some arresting locations - strangely empty streets, red brick industrial and municipal buildings and vast but deserted factories, depressingly vacant symbols of Thatcherite industrial policies. The enigmatic title was inspired by Irish writer Bernard MacLaverty, who described the troubles in the province as akin to having an elephant in your living room - it is so enormous that no-one can ignore it, it gets in the way of everything you try to do and yet no-one talks about it, and after a while you just learn to live with it.

b) Gus Van Sant, writer & director of "Elephant" (2003), the feature film about the Columbine High School shooting which won the palme d'or at Cannes.

Danny Boyle reveals on the Alan Clarke dvd that Gus Van Sant specifically asked him if he could use the title for his own film of the same name, a work who style, structure and some of whose key sequences were clearly influenced by Clarke's original.

c) Harmony Korine.

Gus Van Sant mentions in an interview on his Elephant dvd that it was actually Harmony Korine who told him about Alan Clarke. According to Van Sant, Clarke's Elephant is Korine's favorite movie ever.

More on Alan Clarke and "The Alan Clarke Collection" DVD here:

The french DVD of Van Sant's Elephant also contains the Alan Clarke version as a bonus.

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