368 pages, 8.51 × 6.83 × 0.78 in
August 31, 2004
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0676976824
ISBN - 13: 9780676976823
Read from the Book
Chapter 1FIRST CONVERSATION SAN FRANCISCOIn the spring of 2000,Walter Murch, at the suggestion of Francis Ford Coppola, began to re-edit Apocalypse Now, a film he had worked on back in 1977—1979 both as sound designer and as one of the four picture editors. Twenty-two years later, all the takes and discards and “lost” scenes and sound elements (carefully preserved in climate-controlled limestone caves in Pennsylvania) were brought out of vaults to be reconsidered. Apocalypse Now is a part of the American subconscious. And in some way this was the problem.Having dinner with the novelist Alfredo Véa in San Francisco, after spending my first day with Walter at Zoetrope, I mentioned what was happening with the re-editing of Apocalypse Now, and Véa immediately launched into Marlon Brando’s monologue about the snail on a razor blade. This was followed, during dinner, by Véa’s precise imitation of Dennis Hopper’s whine: “What are they gonna say about him? What are they gonna say? That he was a kind man? That he was a wise man? . . .” For Véa, who fought in Vietnam, Apocalypse Now was the movie about the war. It was the work of art that caught it for him, that gave him a mythological structure he could refer to, that showed him what he had gone through and would later write about himself in books such as Gods Go Begging. So those working on the new Apocalypse Now were aware that there would be problems connected with their dismantling and restructuring a “classic.” It was now public
From the Publisher
The Conversations is a treasure, essential for any lover or student of film, and a rare, intimate glimpse into the worlds of two accomplished artists who share a great passion for film and storytelling, and whose knowledge and love of the crafts of writing and film shine through.
It was on the set of the movie adaptation of his Booker Prize-winning novel, The English Patient, that Michael Ondaatje met the master film and sound editor Walter Murch, and the two began a remarkable personal conversation about the making of films and books in our time that continued over two years. From those conversations stemmed this enlightened, affectionate book -- a mine of wonderful, surprising observations and information about editing, writing and literature, music and sound, the I-Ching, dreams, art and history.
The Conversations is filled with stories about how some of the most important movies of the last thirty years were made and about the people who brought them to the screen. It traces the artistic growth of Murch, as well as his friends and contemporaries -- including directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Fred Zinneman and Anthony Minghella -- from the creation of the independent, anti-Hollywood Zoetrope by a handful of brilliant, bearded young men to the recent triumph of Apocalypse Now Redux.
Among the films Murch has worked on are American Graffiti, The Conversation, the remake of A Touch of Evil, Julia, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather (all three), The Talented Mr. Ripley, and The English Patient.
“Walter Murch is a true oddity in Hollywood. A genuine intellectual and renaissance man who appears wise and private at the centre of various temporary storms to do with film making and his whole generation of filmmakers. He knows, probably, where a lot of the bodies are buried.”
About the Author
Michael Ondaatje is an internationally acclaimed novelist and poet. He is the author of five novels, including Anil’s Ghost, which won the Irish Times International Award, The English Patient, which
won the Booker Prize, and In the Skin of a Lion. He has written a memoir, Running in the Family, and his books of poetry include Handwriting and The Cinnamon Peeler. He has also made two documentary films. He lives in Toronto.
Walter Murch is one of the great master craftsman of the film world — a renowned film and
sound editor who has worked on many of the iconic films of our time, including The Godfather I-III, Apocalypse Now and Redux, American Graffiti, The Conversation, The English Patient, and most recently Cold Mountain, and won three Academy Awards. He is the author of In the Blink of an Eye, and is translating the poetry of Curzio Malaparte from Italian. He lives outside San Francisco.
"Immensely stimulating....This book should be required reading for anyone working in film and a pleasurable option for moviegoers who wish to deepen and enrich the experience."—John Boorman, director of Deliverance, Hope and Glory and Excalibur, reviewing The Conversations in the LA Times“As the subject of Michael Ondaatje’s offbeat, exhilarating new book, [Walter Murch] makes poetry out of an arcane, invisible craft…. Readers with even a passing interest in the movies should find many pleasures here…. The Conversations should be required reading for every aspiring writer — and anyone else involved in learning to shape a work of art.”—Quill & Quire“Here's one of the more interesting cross-disciplinary meetings of minds to hit book form in some time…. In a series of long conversations recorded over a two-year period, Ondaatje and Murch, both highly intelligent and thoughtful artists, transcend the interview-book genre by following tangents, engaging in arguments, contextualizing everything and reminiscing…. this is compulsive and compulsory reading for anyone in film school or interested in film history."—NOW“The Conversations is an homage and an exegesis — effortlessly inquiring and creative. Constructed as a sequence of five discursive interviews … The Conversations is companionable, but not excluding, and intellectually exhaustive, though not for a moment tedious. The friendship of the two men throws an illuminating torch light on Murch’s shadowy profession. The editor shou