Steadycam Cinema

The sense of an ending

Manoel de Oliveira was 102 when he made 'Gebo and the Shadow'

Manoel de Oliveira was 102 when he made 'Gebo and the Shadow'  

Directors like Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood are showing that age is no restriction for filmmakers

It has been a funny old week. A dear aunt had a stroke and an actor friend’s father passed on to the great studio in the sky. This, inevitably, led me to think of mortality. In 2013, Ken Loach’s producer Rebecca O’Brien had hinted that Jimmy’s Hall might be the veteran British director’s swansong. Thankfully, this proved not to be the case, and the 80-year-old filmmaker roared back this year with I, Daniel Blake, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. In most cases, age is not an issue with filmmakers who wish to remain in the saddle. Clint Eastwood is 86 and is currently in post-production on Sully, starring Tom Hanks and Laura Linney. Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira lived till the ripe old age of 106. His last feature Gebo and the Shadow (2012) was made at the age of 102 and he continued making shorts until his death.

Others pass more gently into the sunset. Akira Kurosawa left us in 1998. His last film, Madadayo (1993) ( Not Yet in English) is about an old professor who has no intention of dying. Every birthday, his students gather around and ask him if he is ready, and his response is to down a schooner of beer and say, “Not yet.” A stroke left Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni aphasic, and yet, he masterminded Beyond the Clouds (1995) with Wim Wenders carrying out physical direction duties. Antonioni went on to direct two more shorts and a segment in the portmanteau film Eros (2004), alongside Wong Kar-Wai and Steven Soderbergh. He passed away three years later, aged 94. Ingmar Bergman’s last theatrical feature was Fanny and Alexander (1982), but he continued directing television films until his death in 2007. His video documentary short On Set Home Movies was released posthumously in 2008. Federico Fellini’s last feature was The Voice of the Moon (1990), with his final clapperboard slamming shut in 1993.

John Ford’s long and storied career began in 1917 at the age of 23, and his last feature was 7 Women (1966). His documentary, Chesty: A Tribute to a Legend (1976), was released three years after his death in 1973, when he was aged 79. An octogenarian who is going strong and keeping up with the times is Woody Allen. Café Society premiered at Cannes last month and is the first digital film for Allen and his 75-year young cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. Robert Altman died in 2006, aged 81, shortly after the release of his last film, A Prairie Home Companion. The case of John Huston is slightly eerie. His last film, released a few months after his death in 1987, aged 81, is titled The Dead. And as an actor, one of his last appearances was in the television film, Mister Corbett’s Ghost (1987), in which he plays a soul collector.

Cinema buffs will be delighted to learn that Orson Welles’ unfinished mockumentary, The Other Side of the Wind that he shot intermittently between 1970 and 1976, is finally being completed and will be released this year. The film satirises the golden age of Hollywood, the brat pack Hollywood of the 1970s and the oeuvre of Antonioni. It stars Huston and Peter Bogdanovich, who made a mighty comeback as a director in 2014 with She’s Funny That Way.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 4:12:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/The-sense-of-an-ending/article14429945.ece

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