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Black Narcissus at the Prince Charles with Jack Cardiff
3rd April, 2001

What a busy, but wonderful, time.

I went to the Prince Charles cinema on Tuesday evening. It's just off Leicester Square where the premieres of 49P, AMOLAD, BoRP and others were held.

We were there to see Black Narcissus and the Craig McCall documentary about Jack. Parts of this documentary have been seen on some of the DVDs ("Painting with Light" on the Criterion DVD of BN and "The Colour Merchant" on the Carlton DVD of AMOLAD) Also Jack was to be interviewed on stage by Ian Christie. It was originally to have been by Paul Merton but Ian told me on Sunday that Paul couldn't do it & he'd been volunteered.

I had arranged to meet Paul Gerrard there. He said he'd seen my picture on the web site so I just waited around outside (it wasn't raining much <G>)

Ian arrived at about 8 pm (it was due to start at 8:30) so we chatted for a while.

Jack turned up with wife Nicki & a few other people about 10 mins later. He was mobbed (in a nice, English, way) by a few people who wanted him to sign copies of his book or various other things such as DVDs and to take his photo. When that had died down Ian & I went over to talk to him. Having just seen him on Sunday at the Director's Guild event there wasn't a lot to say apart from "Hello young man (which he loved) we can't go on meeting like this"

They then went inside & I waited a bit longer for Paul who turned up a few minutes later. We then joined the throng & made our way inside.

I'd never been in that cinema before & was pleased to see that it's a "proper" cinema (not a multiplex) and that there were 4-500 people there (in the stalls & the balcony).

We found ourselves seats in the 2nd row of the stalls and chatted as we waited for things to get going.

Craig McCall introduced himself & laid out the program for the evening. First they showed the "Painting with Light" documentary. Shame, I had hoped they'd show the full documentary but Craig did say they hoped to get that screened on TV sometime soon.

Then Jack, Ian & Craig took to the stage. Ian asked Craig & Jack a few questions before they threw it open to the floor.

Questions included :-

(to Craig) why is the documentary taking so long? Craig said it was mainly because of the number of people being interviewed. As the whole documentary is about all of Jack's work they wanted to track down & interview as many people as possible. Some they managed to get just before they died.

(to Jack) Which recent films have you enjoyed most? Jack: "Billy Elliot" Mainly because of it's realism.

(to Jack) What's been the highlight of your career? They didn't add "so far" :) Jack then told us what it was like getting his 2nd Oscar. He said how he was quite worried about being on stage in front of 2000 or so people, then someone reminded him of the millions watching on TV !! He had rehearsed with Dustin Hoffman how he'd actually be given it but when he went up on stage there was Dustin resting in a chair off to one side. Hence the "Hoi, where's my Oscar" at the start which broke the ice with the audience & made Jack feel much more comfortable.

Ian, Jack & Craig on stage Then someone pointed to a plastic bag that Jack had brought along and there it was, his Oscar !!

A few questions were of a technical nature. I got the impression there were quite a few "professionals" there. Either people in "the business" or film students.

So then they left the stage so that BN could be screened. I noticed that Jack and his party (and even Ian) didn't stay, but it was getting on by then and they'd seen it a few times before :)

The projectionist seemed to be having a bit of trouble getting a decent image at first. It was jumping around quite a bit and they kept changing the focus, but it soon settled down.

It was quite a scratchy print, especially at the start, so I had hopes that it'd be a "fade to black" - hopes that were later cruelly dashed !! It had the "fade to blue" instead.

But even though they never got the focus quite right it was still a pleasure to see it on a large screen. As we were so near the front our vision was filled with those lovely images of the mountains and that beautiful shot of Deborah in the first "Irish Idyll" where she's standing in the lake, fishing, wearing the gingham shirt surrounded by that rippling, reflecting water. Lovely.

We trooped out into the London night at about 11:30 and Paul & I went our separate ways, saying "See you at The Red Shoes (at the NFT) on the 21st"

All in all a lovely evening.


P.S. There's a lovely photo of Jack with his Oscar linked to from the IMDb pages.

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