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Michael Winterbottom

Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon is perhaps the best-known film never made. But what about others that never happened? What might a closer look at these reveal about the state of filmmaking? Such unmade films constitute the ‘dark matter’ of British director Michael Winterbottom’s book Dark Matter: Independent filmmaking in the 21st century. The invisible dark matter of the cosmos shapes our universe; without it many galaxies would fly apart. For Winterbottom, an examination of cinematic dark matter ‘might help to explain the wider landscape of British independent cinema’ this century.

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Choosing to set a screen adaptation of Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891) in contemporary India might seem like an almost perverse shift, or an over-determining decision. But for British film-maker Michael Winterbottom, there is consistency and history of a sort. It is his third Thomas Hardy adaptation, and his fourth feature shot on the subcontinent. In re ...

Michael Winterbottom by Brian McFarlane and Deane Williams

February 2010, no. 318

I approached this readable and well-informed study expecting a middling book on a middling filmmaker. Michael Winterbottom is obviously a talented man by the standards of modern British commercial cinema, but I have always associated his work with a routine blend of fashionable technique and pious liberal sentiment. Nor did Brian McFarlane and Deane Williams raise my hopes with their introduction, in which they praise Winterbottom’s business sense and his avoidance of ‘high-flown accounts of what he is up to’. Above all, they seem impressed by the sheer industry of a director who has averaged one feature a year for the past decade and a half; however you judge him, ‘he does keep getting his films made’.

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