Sunday, 16 November 2008

Back to Life, Baz to Reality

I like Baz Luhrmann films. I remember working as the producer of a film review show for a London TV station back in the 1990s. I received an invite to attend the preview of his version of Romeo and Juliet. I had no idea what to expect, but anticipated a somewhat saccharine movie.

At the time I liked to see at least one film a week about which I didn't read the PR blurb. It was fun sitting in a cinema auditorium, with no idea what was about to unfold. And since I was watching films before they'd made it to general release, I enjoyed the incredible privilege of not having friends or family spoil the plot for me. Oh no, that was my job....

I mention this because after a seven year hiatus, excepting the over the top, if remarkable, advert for Chanel, that in 2004 cost millions to produce, Baz is back.

His great epic, Australia, is due to open in the UK on Boxing Day, and has its world premiere next week. The only problem is - he hasn't finished editing it yet.

The press are having a field day over why the $120 million film hasn't been placed in the can and sent off for preview.

Only Oprah Winfrey and her audience have seen a cut of the film, and that was without all the special effects included.

Naturally, the rumour mills are working overtime. The main claim alleges that Fox has forced Luhrmann to change the ending from one that's tragic to one that's happy. 

Entertainment magazine Variety has been following the story. Oprah Winfrey has provided a behind-the-scenes video, which doesn't give away the plot, but provides a quick insight into the challenges facing a cast and crew of more than 300, who decamped into the Outback.

The Guardian features an interview with Baz Luhrmann, in which he explains what makes him produce films that go against the grain of contemporary thinking.

If the ending has been changed because of focus group feedback it'll be a real shame. However, if Luhrmann is making his alterations because of a desire to complete the narrative, in a way that he believes is artistically closer to the ideals he held dear, when he embarked on this adventure, then we should trust him to make the right call.

Critics are pointing out that Titanic et al did not have happy endings, but still went on to break Box Office records. If Australia has a narrative that offers a plausible ending at its conclusion, together with fine acting and lush cinematography, then the mood of the finale will not matter.

It's worth observing how even those at the top of their game can still feel the heat of indecision and doubt. Remember that the next time you find yourself stuck at a creative crossroads during A level coursework!

The Face behind the Book

Given how powerful Facebook has become it's strange that every interview I read with Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the world's biggest social networking site, seems rather bland. 

Maybe it's the increasing presence of PR minders, sent to preserve the corporate brand image, or perhaps the guy is genuinely introverted in a techno-geek way, but he manages to give little away about his passion or vision, either when reflecting about the past or looking forward to the future.

Nonetheless, if it's titbits you're after then here's the latest offering, which has appeared in the Guardian.