Friday, April 23, 2010

The disappointment of TARAS BULBA

From: YUL
The Man Who Would Be King
A Memoir of Father and Son
by Rock Brynner

The notion of filming Gogol's classic TARAS BULBA had occurred to Yul years before. Now he approached the historian and novelist Howard Fast to write the screenplay. Fast, however, could not bring himself to overlook the historical reality that the victims of Taras Bulba's cossack army were Polish Jews. Yul could overlook that fact, in order to tell the story of a father who destroys his greatest treasure: his own son.
Eventually Waldo Salt and Karl Tunberg wrote the screenplay for producer Harold Hecht, with J. Lee Thompson directing. The relationship of father and son was usually central to Yul's films, and there was a reason for this paternal aspect to his image: he often played authoritarian characters. This sweeping epic that spans thirty years depicts the ultimate parable of authoritarianism, as a devoted father murders the beloved son who betrays him. Yul worked hard to create a rich, robust character for Taras, whom he described as a mythical figure. "In my mind he is fifteen feet tall, in order to make the things he does convincing. He has the facility to mesmerize his cossacks into doing what he wants them to do. He has a great love for his son. Taras has a peasant streak in him, but even though he kills Andrei, his son, for betraying the cossack cause, he learns something from Andrei. His world is changed, broadened, he places more value on people." At some considerable cost.
Yul wanted to track this character over the decades, to show how his idealistic nationalism exceeded his paternal instinct. He even proposed that the movie be filmed strictly in sequence - that way, when he was playing Taras as an old man, he could have the caps taken off his front teeth. There was never a film Yul cared about more, not even THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV. It might have been a best performance he ever gave on the screen, but in the end that didn't even matter. TARAS BULBA turned out to be a terrible movie.
A lot of factors contributed to this bitter failure, including some stupid dialogue and the worst painted backdrops of medieval Poland you've ever seen. Yul's carefully crafted performance was edited without reference to the timing and emphasis that Yul and the director had planned in detail. Finally, the film was butchered in the editing room, to make it short enough to show on a double bill.
The single irrecoverable blow to the film was the casting of Tony Curtis as Yul's son, Andrei. Curtis had given a number of excellent performances in films such as THE DEFIANT ONES and THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS. He had acquitted himself well in SPARTACUS. But in TARAS BULBA his performance just didn't work. Part of the problem was that, at the beginning of the story, Curtis had to play a teenager; in trying to summon up a childlike quality, he created a character who was only childish. And during the filming, he fell in love with his costar, Christine Kaufmann, and ended years of marriage to Janet Leigh. Not only was Tony Curtis in the film, on the movie marquee he was its star. For the first time in his career, Yul had accepted an extra hundread thousand or so to take second billing. Even though Yul was playing the title role, TARAS BULBA had become a Tony Curtis movie.
When Yul saw the final cut of TARAS BULBA, he wept. The end result was so far from his original dream as to be unrecognizable, and for several nights thereafter he hardly slept. There and then, once and for all, something inside him broke. His aesthetic trust had been violated, and no professional undertaking would ever be quite the same again.

"There's too much money, and there are too many idiots involved, Rock," he said late one night, sharing a beer with me. "I can't put my heart that far out on the line for an industry that no longer cares enough to be proud of the result. They're hacks, just earning a living. The cocksuckers ought to be parking cars - instead they're calling the shots for the whole film business.
"Well, to hell with it. From here on in, I'm just there for the money, like everyone else. I can't go on being the only one who cares. I'll just pick up my check and go on my way. A great performance in a lousy picture is not going to get seen by anybody...
"But, as the star, I can't ensure the quality of a film. And, because of the editing process, I can't even ensure the quality of my own performance. From now on, that's all they're going to get from me. No script revisions, no directorial help. Fuck 'em-"
"And the horse they rode in on. Right, Dad?"
"That's the spirit, son."

13 comments:

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    1. FATHER AND SON,,SOUNDS SO FAMILIAR TO ME LIKE M UKRAINIAN DAD YAROSLAV AKA WILLY,,,,,HE TOOK ME TO SEE TARAS BULBA AS A KID AND HE WAS SO PROUD TO TELL ME THAT WAS HIS ROOTS,,COSSACK STOCK WARRIORS OF THE STEPPE OF UKRAINE ,,NOW IVE LIVED HERE 10 YEARS AND MADE A COSSACK MOVIE THE DEVILS HARVEST THAT SHOWS STALINS INGINEERED HOLODOMOR AND LOTS OF BATTLE SCENES WITH THE HOLODNY YAR COSSACKS AGAINST THE RED ARMY,,EVEN THE BABUSA GRANNIES AND PEASANTS REBEL AGAIST THE RED ARMY TERRORIST,,LIKE TODA IN UKRAINE IRONICALLY,,AND IM SEEING IT ALL FRONT ROW SEAT! WARRIOR ARTIST,,ROCK ON SLAVA UKRAINE!!!

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  5. The Devils Harvest holodomor film has a serious investor who really digs the script,,,we need the other half of the budget and we are in business folks!

    goldentridentfilms@gmail.com

    get off the phone and emails and get into a real project with guts and pride,,,you live once,,it can be shit or glory!

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  7. THE DEVILS HARVEST MOVIE IS WAITING TO FILM IN UKRAINE

    KEEP YOUR EYE ON ITS PROGRESS HOLODOMOR WILL BE KNOWN GLOBALLY IN ENGLISH FOR THE FIRST TIME WITH A HOLLYWOOD ACTOR STAR

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  8. I did it,,,the film The Devils Harvest is shot ,,yes right here in Ukraine the real deal, thanks for reading!
    Tenacity pays off ! ADVICE -No matter who tries to break you creativley or manipulate your script or deal or sabotage your project as some like to do to claim the credits and glory ,thats ego crap for the ones who havent got the creative juice and can only rob others as they are obsessed with the spotlight baloney and can only achieve high level artistic related or film business recognition by robbing others ,( Ive expierenced this first hand ) But I kept my cool as hard as it was for a hot headed sensitive type like me , I pressed on with a solid honest business head and creative spirit !!!,,stay on the horse like a skilled Cossack like our -Taras Bulba! in the blog. Ride through any storm that suddenly arises ,hang on and get you and your horse home to tell the story on screen!

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  9. READ THIS FOLKS ,,SO TRUE ,,TARAS BULBA ,,YUL BRYNER ,,HIS SONS STORY FROM HIS DEAR FATHER THE GREAT COSSACK ,AN ACTORS ACTOR! HIS VIEWS ON HOW DIRECTORS AND PRODUCERS CAN HACK UP A GREAT SCRIPT! LEARN FROM THIS WRITERS!

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  10. THE DEVILS HARVEST TRAILER IS COMING SOON,,THE NEW COSSACK FILM THAT DEPICTS THE HOLODOMOR,,,THE STARVATION AND ATTCK FROM RUSSIAN RED ARMY AGAINST UKRAINE,,LIKE TODAY,,HISTOR REPEATS ITSELF,, I PRAY IT STOPS SON! IVE BEEN IN KIEV THE WHOLE TIME WITNESSING IT ALL FRON LINES! I PRAY FOR ALL UKARINIANS AND MY SON ,,HES 5 YEARS OLD,,I WILL GUARD HIM WITH M LIFE HERE,,AS YURI IN MY STORY WHO GUARDS HIS LOVE AND FAMILY,,IT IS A REPEAT OF MY WRITING SOME HOW,,OR A STRANGE COINCIDENCE,, OR
    EXTREME SERENDIPITY!

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  11. EXCUSE THE TYPOS FOLKS AND CAPS,,TIRED AND LAZY, SLAVA UKRAINI!!! GLORY TO UKRAINE! AND ITS HEROES IN MAIDAN!

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  12. "THE DEVILS HARVEST " STARS TERENCE STAMP -MAX IRONS - BARRY PEPPER -BEAUTIFUL SAMANTHA BARKS -TAMAR HASAN,
    ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY AND STORY CREATED BY RICHARD BACHYNSKY HOOVER. MOST LOCATIONS AND RESEARCH AS WELL IN UKRAINE WERE SCOUTED BY RICHARD BACHNSKY HOOVER AND OLENA CHERNOVA .RADIO AKITIVE FILMS N KIEV WERE WONDERFUL IN PRODUCTION IN ALL LEVELS OF THE SHOOTING,,THANK YOU RADIO AKTIVE ,DARKO AND ROMAN AND VAL PHIL AND STAFF!!

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