Thursday, March 2, 2006

Richard Leacock

Just returned from a San Francisco screening of Richard Leacock's wonderful Lulu in Berlin. Shot in 1974 - though not released until the early 1980's, Lulu in Berlin is one of only three filmed interviews with Louise Brooks. If you haven't seen it, you should! Leacock himself was present, and he spoke about his experience filming the actress. I asked him before the film if there was any unseen material. Leacock told me that pretty much everything he shot in Brooks' Rochester apartment some thirty years ago is included in his documentary, as his filmed interview with the actress only lasted some 20 minutes. Lulu in Berlin lasts 50 minutes, with clips from Brooks' films interspersed among her comments.

During the question and answer session after the film, Leacock recounted the circumstances behind the making of this interview film, how much "fun" it was, and how much he adored Louise Brooks. After there filming was complete, the actress made an omlet, and ordered Leacock to go to the liquer store and buy a quart of gin! According to the filmmaker, Lulu in Berlin was shown on the BBC in England (in the 1980's?), though with added dramatic parts depicting Brooks life. Leacock had nothing to do with the added bits, and was dismayed that the BBC altered his film. Has anyone ever seen this "other" version? Leacock also mentioned some earlier footage he shot for a staging of Alban Berg's opera, Lulu. This late 1960's stage production, under conductor Sarah Caldwell, included Edie Sedgwick as Lulu! Just imagine . . . .

During the question and answer session, Leacock also mentioned that he had completed a 400 page autobiography, which is so far unpublished. Presumably, something about his making of Lulu in Berlin would be contained in that book. It was a memorable evening. Were any of the readers of this blog present? For more about Richard Leacock, check out his website at

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