His lack of big screen work in the last two decades is a terrible waste, but he has a new film out in the UK in July (“Puffball”, based on a Fay Weldon novel, starring Miranda Richardson).
Here’s my top 5:
2. Don’t Look Now
3. The Man Who Fell to Earth
4. Bad Timing
I’d have loved to have seen his take on Flash Gordon; shame he fell off the project.
“The rules of film-making can be taught in five minutes; that was what Orson Welles was told. The rules are learnt in order to be broken, but if you don’t know them, then something is missing.”
“Movies are not scripts – movies are films; they’re not books, they’re not the theatre. It’s a completely different discipline, it exists on its own. I would say that the beauty of it is it’s not the theatre, it’s not done over again. It’s done in bits and pieces. Things are happening which you can’t get again. I forbid anyone to say “Cut”, the soundman, the operator, or whatever.
They think something’s gone wrong, but in Don’t Look Now, for instance, one scene was made by a mistake. It’s the scene where Donald Sutherland goes to look for the policeman who’s investigating the two women. We had an Italian actor there who couldn’t speak any English at all, not even “Hello”. Through the interpreter, I told him to say “Hello” when he heard Donald knock on the door. And I saw him walking around the set practising. So when it was time for Donald to knock on the door, the sound operator told the Italian actor, not realising that he didn’t speak any English, to stay where he was. So Donald walked down the corridor, knocked on the door and opened the door into an empty room with a big lampshade. Donald hunted around, and the sound operator said “Hello?”, and from behind the lampshade came a reply, “Hello!”. It was fantastic. Because it was such a tense film, it set the tone – the detective instantly became strange."
“I had a furious row with a studio executive once: he said, “They won’t get it, Nic” and I said, “No, they’ll get it; it’s you who’s not getting it, because you’re trying to force something that’s different into being the same”. People usually arrive to see something with an open mind. I want to make them feel something emotionally, but not by planning how to get them there."
“Marketing is the death of invention, because marketing deals with the familiar. I think it was Max Ernst who said, ‘I create utterly strange things from the utterly familiar’ – but in marketing, the familiar is everything, and that is controlled by the studio. That is reaching its apogee now.”
He’s been missed these past years.
Let’s hope “Puffball” is a rebirth.
Personally, there are 2 films of his that I absolutely love: “Walkabout” and “Don’t Look Now”. I also highly rate “Track 29”. Roeg is a law to himself, a real auteur (although I doubt very much he’d be comfortable using that description. He’s very much a man who fell to earth.)
I haven’t seen Track 29 (same with Insignificance) in years; I think I was a bit too young to appreciate it first time round since my memory of it is Oldman having an affair with Russell (who may or may not be his mother?) and Christopher Lloyd having a large train set in his attic.
I recommend the Criterion editions of Don’t Look Now and The Man Who Fell to Earth; particularly the latter, which I appreciate more every time I see it.
Walkabout and The Man Who Fell To Earth are awesome movies. Performance was really entertaining even though I think it’s one of this dumbest movies ever; it had Jagger though and that great scene where the naked actress is dragged around the floor naked. Roeg makes the absurd and stupid wildly sexy, there’s no denying that’s what makes me coming back for more.
2. Bad Timing
3. The Girl Getters
4. Don’t Look Now
I don’t always admit this but he is my Favourite director…ok not recently, but no one was able to use cinema as a montage of space-time and emotion as Roeg did. My guilty fav is Bad timing but Walkabout is one of the finest pieces of cinema I have seen. Can’t wait to see Puff ball i would rather see one good scene in a bad film by Roeg then most films!
“…I would rather see one good scene in a bad film by Roeg than most films!”
I completely agree, Elric.
1. Bad Timing
2. The Man Who Fell to Earth
4. Don’t Look Now
6. Full Body Massage
7. Track 29
I don’t know if I’d stretch it to five, but Bad Timing, Don’t Look Now and Walkabout are certainly up there as three of my favourite films of all time.
1. Bad Timing
are my favorites. I haven’t seen his complete work yet, but I’m interested.
His directorial high points have been duly recorded here by far more knowing eyes than mine – “Walkabout.” “The Man Who Fell to Earth” and “Don’t Look Now” all are keepers, and I’d even make the case for “Insignificance.” But I’ll also give him a shoutout as a cinematographer on “Petulia,” “Far From the Madding Crowd” and “Fahrenheit 451,” and for his second-unit work on “Lawrence of Arabia.”
“…And later I thought, I can’t think how anyone can become a director without learning the craft of cinematography.” Nicolas Roeg
ah yes. Far From The Madding Crowd forgot about that.
Easy; do what Sam Mendes did, employ one at the top of their game and gain all the plaudits.
Sam ‘fucking’ Mendes as he is known round my house
Let it go T:)
I hear that’s what Kate calls him too.
I love Man Who Fell to Earth & Bad Timing.
Insignificance & Eureka sound interesting.
I had a dream back in late August in Los Angeles that took place at Mr. Roeg’s mansion party (insofaras the dream knew); Roeg was wearing a crimson & purple blazer/suitvest; there were these two women talking ontology; an Igor transmogrified into a small purring mancat; all while I was trying to take notes of these happenings with ink that kept changing red, blue, black, until i realized I was dreaming, & the house imploded with light.
That was the last night I was in LA… always good region for wild dreams. Maybe it’s the ocean.
It’s either the ocean or a tide of new surrealism crashing between your ears. Or a prophecy.
Since “Performance” is “signed” by two directors, how is authorship more specifically designated? My read of the film’s troubled post-production history suggest that it is much more of a Donald Cammell film than a Nicolas Roeg film. Any thoughts on this?
DON’T LOOK NOW is a haunting film (I wonder where Spielberg got the idea of presenting a single character in red?). THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH is a guilty pleasure.
I have enjoyed all of Roeg’s films with a few minor exceptions. It is indeed a shame that he sort of fell of the face of the earth. He was one of the best directors of the 70s. Not many directors explore the many aspects of relationships and sexuality the way he did. My top 5:
2. Don’t Look Now
3. Bad Timing
4. Man Who Fell to Earth
Walkabout and Don’t Look Now… brilliant works!
I’m surprised no one has mentioned Roeg’s bizarre Marilyn Monroe-meets-Einstein thing, “Insignificance.”
How is Full Body Massage? Does it look like like a “Roeg” film? Would it be too embarrassing for Criterion to release it? I know Mimi Rogers is topless in it. I like the Witches, but it’s less a “Roeg” film than Eureka, Man Who Fell to Earth, Walkabout, etc.
Insignificance is a great underrated, misunderstood masterwork.
to Isayc Payne; “Don’t Look Now” is not a Criterion release, I believe it is a Paramount release so far; let’s hope for a Criterion edition soon though.
I’ve only seen one Roeg film (Don’t Look Now) but I absolutely loved it. His experience as a cinematographer is pretty obvious and he uses that knowledge for full effect. Don’t Look Now is a very unconventional film but as far as “horror” movies go, it’s one of the deepest, fully realized film of the genre.