Adventures of a Suburban Boy

Adventures of a Suburban Boy

by John Boorman

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John Boorman came of age as a filmmaker in the 1960s--the golden age of world cinema. Then as now, his celebrated films embrace the spirit of the era: challenging authority, questioning accepted morality, and examining the thin line between civilization and savagery. In Adventures of a Suburban Boy, Boorman delves deeply into these themes, applying his

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John Boorman came of age as a filmmaker in the 1960s--the golden age of world cinema. Then as now, his celebrated films embrace the spirit of the era: challenging authority, questioning accepted morality, and examining the thin line between civilization and savagery. In Adventures of a Suburban Boy, Boorman delves deeply into these themes, applying his subversive sensibility to his life story as well as to some of the most important political and cultural events of the twentieth century. The result is a heady fusion of personal memoir and cinematic study, as a child of the London Blitz becomes the influential director known for films such as Point Blank, Excalibur, Hope and Glory, Deliverance, and The General--discussing the cultural role of the motion picture and the art of filmmaking along the way.

With a vividly depicted supporting cast that includes Sean Connery, Richard Burton, Burt Reynolds, and Cher, among others, this entertaining and witty tour through the life, times, and works of one of the cinema's great practitioners is not only essential for anyone seeking a fuller understanding of Boorman's incredible body of work, but is also indispensable resource for anyone who is fascinated by film's impact on our lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
British film director Boorman, famed for Deliverance, Excalibur and The General, is a product of WWII. More specifically, he comes out of the semidetached suburbs of WWII London. His memoir-part family history, part film bio-is both tender and restrained. Boorman's emotional life was shaped by his parents' triangulated marriage-his mother was in love with his father's best friend-and his longing to escape the drabness of suburban life. "I vacillated between overweening ambition and despair," he notes. Enamored of broadcasting, he got a job editing news clips for Britain's ITN network in 1955 and became so adept, he was recruited by the BBC, where he rose to produce documentaries. Yet film remained his first love. He got his break in 1965 with Catch Us if You Can. The die was cast: Boorman became a darling of British cinema, eventually seeking recognition in Hollywood. By all accounts, he did not achieve the financial success others did, but he managed, despite occasional setbacks, to fulfill his artistic vision. Why, he asks, are people so drawn to moviemaking? "We are escaping the vague dissatisfactions of safe and comfortable lives. We want to be extended, tested." Boorman pushes the envelope, creating inspired cinema on small budgets, often in dangerous locales. A devoted father, he also discovers the gift of friendship with Lee Marvin and Jon Voight. Not a lurid tell-all, this is an honest appraisal of a life well lived. It begins and ends with Hope and Glory, Boorman's semi-autobiographical film about a boy's suburban childhood, whose critical acclaim proves that the suburbs served him well. 40 b&w photos. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Those with a strong interest in the various components of filmmaking, as well as fans of Hope and Glory, Deliverance, Zardoz, Excalibur, and Point Blank, will find this autobiography by director Boorman particularly fascinating. In an engrossing narrative, cinematic in tone and structure, Boorman recounts growing up in an English suburb, an experience that deeply influenced the perspective and subject matter of his work and from which the title is derived. Stories of his family, childhood friends, school, neighborhood, and everyday culture are set in both happy times and darker ones, including the period of the London Blitz. Boorman smoothly segues into his vast and often eccentric professional life, in the process introducing readers to Lee Marvin, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, and others. Throughout stories of his personal life-all told with honesty, finesse, and wit-he mixes in details about locations, scripts, finances, and the successes and failures of his cinematic projects. Consequently, these pages contain not only a self-portrait of a modern director/ filmmaker but also an informative analysis of the creation of important films that represent modern cinematic art and the probing thematic issues it explores. For circulating libraries and film collections.-Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-This autobiography by the director of films such as Deliverance and Hope and Glory works as a telling celebration of the man's career. The book starts plainly enough with Boorman's childhood in London during the chaos of World War II. When he failed entrance exams for academic schools, his parents struggled to pay for and push him through private school. After spending some time in the military, Boorman gradually moved on to newspapers, documentary films at the BBC, and, finally, Hollywood pictures. Much of the rest of the book is devoted to anecdotes like tromping through swamplands to find the perfect site for Deliverance or dealing with the combating egos of actors in Hell in the Pacific. Boorman treats his successes lightly, using them as examples of how he pulled his projects together. He doesn't shirk from examining his failures. Overall, the book is a frank portrait of a man who, through extreme persistence and hard work, found success in the competitive world of Hollywood films.-Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An articulate moviemaker brings us not-quite-up-to-date in a thoughtful memoir of a life he has sometimes re-created on film. Boorman’s evocative film Hope and Glory told the story of his youth in wartime Britain. Here, he recalls more of his middle-class life by the Thames in Shepperton. There’s the church choir, bowling googlies in cricket, and reading once-popular John Cowper Powys, all in a small world of semis and bed-sitters. The decided Briticisms fade as Boorman advances from hitches in the army and the BBC. He steps forward from cricket pitch to backlots around the world to become a first-rank filmmaker, one who appreciates the form’s debt to D.W. Griffith and Billy Bitzer. You may not have seen Leo the Last or even Zardoz, but just consider Deliverance. An extended journal extract recaps an exploration to a tribe in the jungles of Brazil. Buffs will lap up insider bits about script-timing, budgeting, and such. There are asides about sets, locations, jumpcuts, dubbing, looping, color desaturation, negative pickups, and completion bonds—all nicely accessible. There’s also commentary about negotiations with distributors, actors and crews. And there are the people, like talented Jon Voight, antic Burt Reynolds, and mendacious James Dickey. The requisite anecdotes are agreeably presented. Regard the one that ends with a traffic cop pulling Boorman over to inquire, "Do you know you have Lee Marvin on your roof?," or the one in which Lew Grade cedes control of rushes, rough cut, and final cut and—"I don’t even want to see the picture when it’s finished!" Boorman is as clever with a memoir as he is with a script. Like a true pro, he hits all his marks. If only there were moretales of the recent films. Maybe next time. A warm, intelligent story of life in film with family, friends, and fable by Merlin of the Movies. (40 b&w photos in text)

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Faber and Faber
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Adventures of a Suburban Boy
Light and ShadowIf you plant oaks you necessarily take a long view. As with children. Both are acts of faith in the future of a precarious planet. When I came to this simple Georgian house in the Wicklow Hills of Ireland some thirty-four years ago, the ancient oaks I inherited cast their spell on me. They rooted me to the place. Although I was drawn away to distant forests and wild rivers, making movies, I have returned to raise my children and tend my trees. 
The great pioneer film director, D. W. Griffith, believed that film was the universal language promised in the Bible that would herald the Second Coming; and so it must have seemed in the glory days of the silent era. In the first twenty years of the last century, film swept the world, effortlessly crossing barriers of class, race and nation. A measure of the speed of this revolution was that scarcely five years after his arrival in Hollywood, Chaplin was the most famous man in the world, and probably the highest paid.In The Lost Girl, D. H. Lawrence describes Nottingham miners watching those early films: while they looked at the live music hall acts out of the corners of their eyes, embarrassed, uneasy, they stared at the movies, unblinking, mouths agape, like men in a trance, mesmerised.The power of film lies in its links to the unconscious, its closeness to the condition of dreaming. In my dreaming youth, like so many others, I was as entranced as those miners, coming to believe that film was the ultimate art form, that it could include everything and everybody, reconnect us to all that had been taken from us. I was born in a faceless, mindless London suburb amongst people who had lost their way in the world, who had forgotten who they were, and had fallen from grace. 
In the Arthurian legend, the Grail was lost because men had sinned against nature. The world became a wasteland. The Fisher King's wound would not heal. Only by finding the Grail could wholeness, harmony and oneness be restored, and the King be healed, and grace restored.I have sought that lost grace in the film-making process, where the material things of the world - money, buildings, sets, plastic, metal, people - disappear into a camera and become nothing but light and shadow flickering on a wall: matter into spirit, the alchemists would say. Memories are even more shadowy and insubstantial ...© John Boorman, 2003

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