Sunday, 20 February 2011

Britain says "Happy Birthday" to an old film and theatre director called Mike Leigh

Mike Leigh, writer, film and theatre director is 68 today.
What you probably didn't know about Mike, that he :

* was born in Welwyn, Hertfordshire, studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the Camberwell School of Art and the Central School of Art and Design.

* began as a theatre director and playwright in the mid 1960's and in the 70's and 80's made films for BBC TV characterized by a gritty 'kitchen sink realism' style.

* begins his work without a script, but with a basic premise which is developed through improvisation by the actors and only after months of rehearsal, the script is finalised with almost no improvisation on camera.

* is a gifted cartoonist, northerner who came south, proud and critical of his roots and Jewish background and he is a child of the 1960s and the explosion of interest in the European cinema and the possibilities of television.

* When he had arrived in London, one of the first films he had seen was 'Shadows', an 'improvised' film by John Cassavetes, in which a cast of unknowns was observed 'living, loving and bickering' on the streets of New York, and Leigh had "felt it might be possible to create complete plays from scratch with a group of actors."

His 'Nuts In May' from 1976, still makes me laugh :

Abigail's Party with Mike's wife, Alison Steadman, from 1977, still makes me cringe :

'Another Year' in 2010, with Mike talking :

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