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Peter Weir


John C. Tibbetts

Publication Year: 2014

Peter Weir: Interviews is the first volume of interviews to be published on the esteemed Australian director. Although Weir (b. 1944) has acquired a reputation of being guarded about his life and work, these interviews by archivists, journalists, historians, and colleagues reveal him to be a most amiable and forthcoming subject. He talks about "the precious desperation of the art, the madness, the willingness to experiment" in all his films; the adaptation process from novel to film, when he tells a scriptwriter, "I'm going to eat your script; it's going to be part of my blood!"; and his self-assessment as "merely a jester, with cap and bells, going from court to court." He is encouraged, even provoked to tell his own story, from his childhood in a Sydney suburb in the 1950s, to his apprenticeship in the Australian television industry in the 1960s, his preparations to shoot his first features in the early 1970s, his international celebrity in Australia and Hollywood. An extensive new interview details his current plans for a new film.

Interviews discuss Weir's diverse and impressive range of work--his earlier films Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Last Wave, Gallipoli, and The Year of Living Dangerously, as well as Academy Award-nominated Witness, Dead Poets Society, Green Card, The Truman Show, and Master and Commander. This book confirms that the trajectory of Weir's life and work parallels and embodies Australia's own quest to define and express a historical and cultural identity.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

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David Thomson

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pp. ix-xii

In a few years he will be seventy. He does not seem like a movie director. He is not overloaded with himself. He is not always on interview alert. But since 1974, he has made fourteen feature films. He has been nominated for the Best Director Oscar four times, though he has never won. By and large, he lives in the Australia where he was born, and many of his...

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Introduction: “Unmet Friends”: Encounters with Peter Weir

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pp. xiii-xxx

“I cannot discuss it. I will never discuss it with anyone,” declares Lady Joan Lindsay. She has just been asked by filmmaker Peter Weir to reveal the secret of the girls’ disappearance in her book, Picnic on Hanging Rock. It is 1974 and Weir is preparing his film adaptation of the story. He wants to know. . . . Undaunted, Weir presses on, tongue firmly in cheek: “Would...


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pp. xxxi-xxxiv


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pp. xxxv-2

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Peter Weir: Reclaiming a Sydney Boyhood

John C. Tibbetts

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pp. 3-5

“It’s been a long time since I’ve explored these areas,” murmurs Peter Weir from behind the wheel of his car. We are on a tour of his childhood haunts in and around Sydney. It’s a sparkling Sunday afternoon, July 9, 2012, with mild breezes and flying blue skies. It’s been many years since we first met, back in America, on the premiere of Fearless. With...

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Peter Weir: Snapshots in Time

John C. Tibbetts

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pp. 6-39

[Note: Imagine a sunny afternoon in Manley. Peter Weir and I are outside, in a little corner of a back garden. He sits across from me at a table, entirely at his ease. His trademark hat shadows his forehead from the intense sun. Despite the afternoon cool, he wears a black tee-shirt. He frequently accompanies his remarks by shifting in his seat and gesturing...

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Peter Weir: Early Days

Sue Mathews

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pp. 40-46

[Editor’s note: In this first of two excerpts from the interview by Sue Mathews, Peter Weir speaks of his early days growing up in Sydney, Australia.]

In conversation Peter Weir has a youthful intensity, choosing allusive, literary phrases to capture nuances of feeling as he recalls the past. He is more comfortable talking publicly about events and stages...

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Small Screens and Big Screens: Television and Film

Graham Shirley

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pp. 47-69

[Editor’s Note: Graham Shirley worked for four decades as a director, writer, and researcher on Australian historical documentaries. He is author (with Brian Adams) of Australian Cinema: The First 80 Years (published 1983 and 1989). From 2006 to 2010 he was a senior curator with the National Film and Sound Archives (NFSA). He is now the...

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The First Features: The Cars That Ate Paris

Tom Hogan

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pp. 70-78

[Editor’s Note: Professor Hogan has kindly offered these introductory remarks to this 1973 interview with Peter Weir.]

I do believe I was the first person to interview Peter Weir for radio (or any other broadcast medium, for that matter). We already knew each other pretty well, because in the late 1960s and early 1970s there developed a strong movement throughout...

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“Weir, Weird, and Weirder Still”: The Riddle of Hanging Rock

David Castell

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pp. 79-84

Until the last few years Australia has been off the map, cinematically speaking, since the overnight collapse of their native industry with the advent of talkies. Even with the period of the last two years, much of the international drum-beating has been done by departments of the Australian government who, with a vision and foresight that is at once...

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Years of Living Dangerously: The Last Wave, The Plumber, Gallipoli, The Year of Living Dangerously

Sue Mathews

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pp. 85-104

[Editor’s note: In this second part of the interview, Peter Weir reflects on his feature films, from Michael to The Year of Living Dangerously.]

Gallipoli was my graduation film,” says Peter Weir. It was then, he believes, that his technique caught up with his inspiration. Inspiration is central to Peter Weir’s filmmaking: his approach is intuitive rather than...

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Interview with Peter Weir

Luisa Ceretto, Andrea Morini

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pp. 105-110

Ceretto and Morini: Could you give us a general background covering the influences on you of films and filmmakers?
Peter Weir: Growing up I think my great stimulation was nature. I lived by the water, so swimming, rocks, and all the elements, the landscape itself, became one’s art gallery. When I was very young, it was my father who fostered my love...

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Peter Weir: Master of Unease

Terry Dowling, George Mannix

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pp. 111-132

Peter Weir is Australia’s most provocative and original filmmaker. His work would not be conventionally regarded as science fiction, but it does often rest in the broad area of imaginative and speculative work that tends to be pigeonholed under that name. Peter Nicholls’s Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction, for instance, has an entry for The Cars That Ate Paris, describing...

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Towards the Center

Tom Ryan, Brian McFarlane

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pp. 133-147

Central to most of Peter Weir’s films is the attempt to move beyond the surface strata of behavior, beyond what is readily perceived, to a realm of experience that is equally “real” but less tangible. In this sense his work reveals a strong impulse towards the abstract, towards the collapse of the forms of the everyday into a stream of “sights and sounds and colors...

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The Swizzle Stick: Peter Weir and Hollywood Genres

Jonathan Rayner

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pp. 148-160

Jonathan: In your American films, it seems you’re aware of genres, you’re aware of previous directors, and when you get to something like Green Card, you’ve reintroduced screwball comedy to talk about an issue like immigration or tolerance.
Peter Weir: I don’t think I set out even to do the latter. I wanted to get back to work after Mosquito Coast, and nothing

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The Iceman Cometh: Mosquito Coast

Digby Diehl

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pp. 161-166

Gracey Rock, Belize, 12:30 A.M. Gracey Rock was nothing more than a wide spot on the Sibun River—unfarmed raw jungle—until it was transformed into the community of Jeronimo for the filming of Paul Theroux’s 1982 novel, The Mosquito Coast. The set looks like an army encampment dumped in the Central American jungle, and in this hotbed...

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Fearless: The Poetry of Apocalypse

John C. Tibbetts

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pp. 167-174

Moments before impact, the plummeting airplane starts to break up into pieces. Passengers, crew, luggage, and fragments of the cabin bounce off each other, spin out of control, and hurtle off into space. At the center of the vortex, however, there is a strange, quiet peace. A serene melody sounds out of the void, enfolding the scene in a loving embrace. Silhouetted...

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Poetry Man: Dead Poets Society

Nancy Griffin

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pp. 175-182

On the last afternoon of 1988, Robin Williams is being much too funny. It is not the first time this has happened on the set of Dead Poets Society. Wholesome as you please in a retro tweed jacket and tie, he is sitting behind a table in the dining hall of St. Andrew’s School near Wilmington, Delaware. Williams plays John Keating, an eccentric and inspiring...

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Weir’s Worlds: The Truman Show

Virginia Campbell

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pp. 183-190

Australian director Peter Weir’s new film, The Truman Show, is about a man named Truman Burbank, who, at the age of thirty, begins to suspect that the neatly arranged life he leads in a shipshape island town in sunny Florida is some sort of elaborate setup of unknown purpose. The truth is more outrageous than he could possibly guess: Truman actually lives on...

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This Is Your Life: The Truman Show

Eric Rudolph

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pp. 191-199

In The Truman Show, director Peter Weir and cinematographer Peter Biziou, BSC, tell the imaginative tale of a hapless man whose very existence has been turned into a television show.
In today’s media-saturated world, cohabitating strangers are ceaselessly documented in vivid detail on MTV, continuous video feeds from the bedrooms of young women...

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He’s Fought His Own Way Back to Work

Terrence Rafferty

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pp. 200-203

“It would have been different,” said the Australian director Peter Weir, whose new film, The Way Back is his first in more than seven years, “if I’d changed professions during those years, or done nothing but read and hang about.” But since his previous movie, Master and Commander, he has worked on three different projects that fell through, he said: “So if I...

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“I Am Your Eyes”: Interviews with Russell Boyd, ACS, ASC

John C. Tibbetts

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pp. 204-239

[Editor’s note: From his early years as one of the prime architects of the Australian New Wave in the 1970s, to his years working in Hollywood, capped recently by his Oscar for Master and Commander, Russell Boyd is in the front rank of today’s greatest cinematographers. He belongs to a generation of remarkable young Australian cinematographers who...

Appendix: Notes on Gallipoli

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pp. 240-252

Additional Sources

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pp. 253-254


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pp. 255-261

E-ISBN-13: 9781617038976
E-ISBN-10: 1621039854
Print-ISBN-13: 9781621039853

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2014