Richard Leacock & Valerie Lalonde: The Paris Years 1989 to 2009watch a preview of A Musical Adventure in Siberia
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Richard Leacock was one of the few genuine pioneers in the field of documentary filmmaking and one of its greatest innovators — along with Al Maysles, D.A. Pennebaker and Robert Drew, he helped to create the shining interval that came to be known as cinema-verité. He made his first movie at the age of 14, and he never stopped filming until his death in 2011 at the age of 89. In Leacock's hands, the camera became an astonishingly sensitive instrument. A lot has been made of his work as a cameraman on Robert Flaherty's Louisiana Story, but his greatest influence was the ceaselessly changing world itself and the equipment he used to record and interpret certain of its events.
The films in this DVD collection were made after Leacock retired from teaching at MIT and moved to Paris, where he met his great love and creative collaborator Valerie Lalonde. The then-new Video-8 cameras delivered them from the enormous costs of shooting on film, and with unlimited time, the energizing power of love and the new lightweight equipment allowed them a freedom to film what had always interested them most — life itself, in all its beauty, charm and poignancy. This freedom is felt in every frame of every title in this collection, which spans the final period in Leacock's creative life. — Kent Jones
This 5-DVD set includes 11 films:
Les Oeufs à la Coque de Richard Leacock (91 min, 1991)
Inspired by both new love and Gulliver's Travels, Les Oeufs à la Coque (aka Richard Leacock's Soft-Boiled Eggs), is a ravishingly beautiful, important film about nothing in particular, a love song dedicated to France, French women in general and one Frenchwoman in particular, and a montage portrait of quotidian life in a country at peace.
A Musical Adventure in Siberia with Sarah Caldwell (56 min 2003) - watch a preview
In 1996, the First Lady of opera, Sarah Caldwell, invited her old friend and collaborator Richard Leacock to join her in Yektarinaberg, a previously closed Siberian industrial city, where she was preparing for the first-ever performance of a symphonic drama by Sergei Prokofiev of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin.
Mambo Madness (32 min, 1995)
The legendary 1960s supermodel Veruschka, aka Vera von Lehndorff, sets in motion a search for a long-lost all-female Communist Mambo band led by a blonde-haired, blue-eyed East German in this literally fabulous fantasy documentary conceived by Hans-Peter Litscher, the Swiss playwright, historian and polymath, and filmed by Leacock and Lalonde in Austria, Russia, France and Cuba.
Gott Sei Dank: A Visit with Helga Feddersen (30 min, 1993)
Years after the great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner introduced Leacock to Feddersen, the German comic actress and theatrical impresario, he and Lalonde visited her home in Hamburg while she was recuperating from a cancer surgery and filmed her talking about her life and times, her illness, and the beauty of forgiveness.
Kren - Parking (3 min, 1992)
A very short portrait of a work of art called Parking by the award-winning Slovak artist Matej Kren. Parking is made of mobile mirrors that reflect and invite reflection with confounding yet hypnotic visuals.
Les Vacances de Monsieur Leacock (20 min, 1992) - watch a preview
A lighthearted, charming visual diary of a cross-country road trip Leacock and Lalonde took across America, Les Vacances was made as a series of vignettes in places as diverse as Monument Valley, the ghostly mountaintop mining town Climax, Colorado, and Los Angeles.
A Celebration of St. Silas (25 min, 1993)
An offshoot of a separate collaboration about vicars for the BBC, this film follows the Anglican vicar who most delighted Leacock and Lalonde, as he prepares for and celebrates the heavenly birthday Mass of St. Silas, who brought the news that circumcision was not a prerequisite for entry to Heaven.
The Killings of Cariola (35 min, 1992)
Fascinated with process of rehearsal, Leacock and Lalonde watched and filmed as London's Cherub Company prepared a production of The Duchess of Malfi by Shakespeare's contemporary, John Webster.
Hooray! We're 50! (30 min, 1993)
A moving snapshot of Leacock's 50th reunion with the Harvard class of 1943, shot primarily by Lalonde and edited by Leacock (who majored in physics there), Hooray! We're 50! is a joyful look at the return from both war and life of an accomplished cast of graduates.
A Hole in the Sea (Le Trou dans la Mer) (30 min, 1994) - watch a preview
Shortly before the opening of the "Chunnel" linking England and France, Leacock and Lalonde were commissioned to film at both ends of the underwater project. They produced a light-hearted portrait of the effects of the massive project on life and the local landscapes, both physical and psychological.
Au Revoir, Marie Laure: Portrait of a Gallery at Work (42 min, 2006)
When she died in 1970, Marie Laure de Noailles left behind a legacy as a patron of the arts, muse of the surrealists and one of the great salonistes of Paris. Marie Laure's antiquaire Pierre Passebon invited her old friend Lalonde to film in the Galerie du Passage in Paris during the last week of an exhibition of Marie Laure's artworks and other possessions. The result was this sensitive meditation on art, friendship, permanence and transience.
The Feeling of Being There: A Filmmaker's Memoir
when ordering this book along with The Paris Years DVD set.
Richard Leacock's multi-format memoir "The Feeling of Being There" is a riveting autobiographical epic spanning almost the entire history of cinema, seen through the eyes of one of its leading players. From Canary Bananas", his first film in 1935, to A Musical Adventure in Siberia", the memoir traces Leacock's personal life as a filmmaker and observer of key moments in the 20th century, filming with Flaherty, Drew Associates, Pennebaker, and many others.
Richly illustrated, the exclusive book contains more than 290 drawings, photos and film stills. Always at the forefront of new technologies, Leacock's memoir is published as a book accompanied by a DVB (Digital Video Book) containing more than 100 film excerpts, richly intertwined with the gripping storyline.
Read more about the memoir project on www.canarybananafilms.com.
Screening Room with Ricky Leacock