John Boorman is an English film director who made movies like Deliverance, Excalibur or The Emerald Forest, renowned for their great symbolic and visual impact.
He was born January 18, 1933 in Shepperton, Middlesex, near London. He grew up near the Shepperton Studios. He spent part of his childhood with the Jesuits, but his youth was mainly marked by German bombings during World War II. This will be the topic of one of his most sensitive movies : Hope and Glory.
At the age of 18, he earned his living being a movie critic on a radio station. He also wrote articles for various magazines. He then became an editor for TV, before directing documentaries. He directed his first movie in 1965 : Having a Wild Weekend. The year after, he made another documentary, this one about D.W. Griffith : The Great Director. It was while doing some research on Griffith, that John met Judd Bernard, the producer of Double Trouble, a movie about Elvis Presley on tour in Europe. Judd entrusted him with the script of a thriller he wanted to produce with Lee Marvin in the leading role. Boorman met Marvin in London, the starting point of their friendship. This allowed the english director to make his first american movie Point Blank in 1967, and his second, Hell in the Pacific in 1968. The latter starred Marvin and Toshiro Mifune, Akira Kurosawa's favorite actor.
In 1970, he came back to London to shoot Leo the Last with Marcello Mastroianni, but in 1972 he went back in the US to make Deliverance for Warner Brothers. It is undoubtedly one of his biggest successes. After this, his desire was to direct a SciFi movie. He first wanted to adapt Lord of The Rings, but producers refused this project because it was too expensive. He then wrote an anticipation script which was very pessimistic, Zardoz, that was shot in Ireland. Although Sean Connery starred in it, Zardoz was a failure
In 1977, he directed a commissioned work, the sequel of William Friedkin's Exorcist : Exorcist II: The Heretic, which was also a disappointment. After this, it took him four years to make what became his masterpiece : Excalibur. This movie was nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival and earned a lot of honours. During the next decade, he helmed three critically acclaimed movies : The Emerald Forest in 1985, Hope and Glory in 1987 and Where the Heart is in 1990. After a middle-length film : I Dreamt I Woke Up, came out Beyond Rangoon in 1995 starring Patricia Arquette about dictatorship in Burma. He resumed directing with two shorts made in 1995, Two Nudes Bathing and Lumière et Compagnie in which 40 directors paid a tribute to the Lumière brothers by making a set of 40 short cuts using the original Cinematographe under conditions similar to those of 1895.
In 1997, John Boorman's daughter, Telsche who wrote Where the Heart is, died of a cancer. The year after, he directed an independent movie The General, shot in Black and White. It won the Best Direction Award at Cannes, almost 30 years after Leo the Last which won the same award.
Three years later, he came back with The Tailor of Panama starring Pierce Brosnan, based on the novel by John Le Carré. This movie seemed far from Boorman's world, but he achieved an intelligent and satirical piece of work. He is actually working on The Professor and the Madman, a children's movie, produced by Luc Besson and Mel Gibson.
Since 1965, Boorman moved forth and back between the US, England and Ireland, and he succeded in alternating his own movies with commissioned works, which made his career very fascinating. The common element in most of his work is the presence of water, as a purifying element in Leo the Last, The Emerald Forest and Excalibur, or as a background element in Hell in the Pacific and Deliverance.
IMDb filmography & Bio : http://us.imdb.com/Bio?Boorman,+John
Rebecca Flint's Bio : http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=B82431
My own memories