Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Death of Alan Parker, legendary director of “Midnight Express” and “Fame”

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Published on : 31/07/2020 – 20:31Modified : 31/07/2020 – 21:46

Alain Parker’s cinema carries the soundtrack of several generations, from “Fame” to “Evita”, including “Pink Floyd The Wall” and “Midnight Express”. The British director, whose films have received several Oscars, died this Friday, July 31 in London at the age of 76, announced the family of the father of five children.

Recently, the Arte channel made it possible to (re) discover one of Alan Parker’s very first films: Bugsy Malone, Rififi at the kids, shot in 1976. The British director had written the script himself. It was a gangster movie played exclusively by children and teenagers. A disarming stroke of genius in which we quickly forget the age of the actors who play and sing like very grown-ups.

An overflowing imagination, quickly rewarded with Oscars

Born in 1944 in London, William Parker started his career first in an advertising agency. At the end of the 1960s, he wrote his first screenplays before directing his first short films in the early 1970s, Our Cissy and Footsteps.

The style of filmmaker Alan Parker can be summed up in one word: original. Each of his achievements gives birth to a new universe, an invitation to dive into his overflowing imagination, very quickly rewarded with two Oscars, including one for the screenplay for which Parker had hired a certain Oliver Stone, unknown at the time. Midnight Express is the true story of William Hayes, a young American on vacation in Turkey who has the bad idea of ​​making money from drug trafficking. Sentenced to 30 years in prison, he finds himself locked in a sordid prison. Parker had transformed this tragedy into a film populated by ultra-violent scenes and provoked at the time also very hostile reactions, accusing him of a racist view of the Turks.

Of “ Fame » aux Sex Pistols

Two years later, in 1980, a change of mood. Alan Parker performs Fame and gives rise to vocations as dancers in young girls all over the world. The film, also twice Oscar winner, tells the story of Coco, played by Irene Cara, who is not discouraged by cruel auditions to realize her dream: to be admitted to the New York City High School for the Performing Arts.

With Pink Floyd : The Wall, the British director puts his talents at the service of one of the greatest rock groups on the planet. His visual and virtuoso interpretation of this successful conceptual double album The Wall, brought the music of the English group into the history of cinema forever.

Other films, like Les Commitments, which recounts the moments of glory and miseries of a soul music group in Dublin, or Avoid, a musical written again by Oliver Stone and played by Madonna, is a reminder of how music is at the heart of her cinema. The artist, who became Sir Alan Parker in 2002, even wrote a book a few years later on the agitated career of the Sex Pistols bassist, Sid Vicious, the punk icon.

Manifesto films

But Alan Parker’s cinema is also engaged. Evidenced by Mississippi Buring, another shock for moviegoers. Denouncing segregation in the United States; the film tells about the mysterious disappearance of three human rights defenders. This is also the case with Birdy, awarded the Grand Prix of the Festival de Cannes in 1985, which evokes the fate of two veteran friends of the Vietnam War. Or even The Life of David Gale, which clearly appears as a manifesto against the death penalty.

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