Interview - EIFF 2011 curator Alan Warner on the films of Jerzy Skolimowski

This article is from 2011

Interview - EIFF 2011 curator Alan Warner on the films of Jerzy Skolimowski

Deep End, The Shout and The Adventures of Gerard to screen at EIFF

Author Alan Warner has programmed a season of Jerzy Skolimowski films for EIFF 2011. He explains how he came to make his choices

People started throwing around that name ‘curator’, which gave the impression that Isabella Rossellini and I were ensconced together in a hotel in the south of France devising programmes. Of course, the truth was that I met Mark Cousins in an Edinburgh pub for about 45 minutes. I’ve always been a big fan of Skolimowski, an unrecognised genius. I think what came first for me was a soundtrack album by Can on the back of which it said, ‘from Deep End’. In the early 80s, it was very difficult to see European movies, apart from whatever was on late on BBC2, until I went to London and discovered all those great underground cinemas.

But lo and behold on BBC2, The Adventures of Gerard was on late one night with Peter McEnery in it and so I sat down with some cheese and a glass of milk and I was blown away. It took these Arthur Conan Doyle stories and gave them this slight Swinging 60s whacky vibe and I was thoroughly entertained by it. But 30 years on, I’ve never seen it again, not a glimpse. So when the Film Festival was going on about what to do, I just thought, ‘Jesus man, I wouldn’t mind seeing that again.’ It could be my own personal jukebox.
It was years since I’d seen Deep End. I first tracked it down to this bizarre cinema club showing in Hampstead in about 1984. A very fantastic, strange, beautiful movie, and Jane Asher’s in it. There’s this sequence where they lose her wedding ring in the snow and they take all this snow in bags from the rough area where they lost the ring and back to the swimming pool where they work and melt the snow in the bottom of the pool to find the ring.

And there’s The Shout, which is a cracker as well, a really wild one with Alan Bates and John Hurt. It’s from a fantastic Robert Graves story, but they took out all the public school cricket stuff and twisted it to have the Hurt character a composer of electronic music which was an effective concept so they could use sound in a really creative way. It’s great to get these movies out to the Harry Potter generation who don’t know about The Shout or know who Alan Bates was because he was dead before they were five.

(Interview by Brian Donaldson)

The Adventures of Gerard, Filmhouse 3, Sat 25 Jun, 3.30pm.
Deep End, Filmhouse 2, Sun 26 Jun, 2.45pm.
The Shout, Filmhouse 3, Sun 26 Jun, 1pm.

The Adventures of Gerard

  • 1969
  • UK / Switzerland / Italy
  • 1h 31min
  • Directed by: Jerzy Skolimowski
  • Written by: Arthur Conan Doyle, HAL Craig, Gene Gutowski, Jerzy Skolimowski
  • Cast: Peter McEnery, Claudia Cardinale, Eli Wallach, Jack Hawkins

: Perspectives Spain during Napoleon's Peninsula Campaign and dim-witted lothario Brigadier Gerard is given a mission to deliver a message across enemy territory. Battling against his nerves, an army and the amorous sights of the Countess of Morales the Brigadier haplessly attempts to complete his assignment. This film…