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Cannes Interview: John and Katrine Boorman Talk 'Me and Me Dad,' 'Excalibur' & '70s 'Lord of the Rings'

Photo of Matt Mueller By Matt Mueller | Thompson on Hollywood May 22, 2012 at 3:13PM

John Boorman has been in Cannes with daughter Katrine to talk up "Me & Me Dad," a documentary about the "Excalibur"/"Deliverance"/"The Tailor Of Panama" director that Katrine filmed over a period four years and that John jokingly says he hoped would never see the light of day...

The 79-year-old filmmaker also recounted his flirtation in the early '70s with adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s "The Lord Of The Rings" trilogy for United Artists. By the time he'd finished nearly a year of intensive script development, UA had run out of money and other studios passed, forcing Boorman to shelve it (although some elements made it into "Excalibur"). “I think I did a great service to the world by not making that film,” smiles Boorman, who was planning to cast 10-year-old boys as the hobbits and have them dubbed with adult voices. “Peter Jackson might never had made his trilogy if I’d done it.”

So how does Boorman think the films he’s made compares to the visions he was trying to achieve? “In a way, they always fall short of what you hoped," he says. "It’s a continuous process of disappointment, and the clearer an idea you have of the film you want to make the more disappointing it becomes because you never achieve that. I have in my head versions of all the films that I’ve made that are much better than the films they became.”

And Boorman has no plans to retire either. He's currently trying to mount a sequel to "Hope And Glory," his 1987 autobiographical tale of growing up in Britain during the Blitz. He’s also giving Katrine advice on a script that she’s hoping to direct. It will be interesting to see how far "Me And Me Dad" can travel beyond the festival confines, but for anyone who counts themselves as an admirer of this private, occasionally prickly director's films it’s worth trying to track down. “My father’s a great minimalist – that’s the kind of director he is and that’s the sort of person he is,” offers Katrine in conclusion. “He’s always been about the rational married with the dream state.”

This article is related to: Cannes Film Festival, Interviews, Directors, Documentary, Documentaries

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.