Archive for the ‘Four Feathers’ Category

Heath Ledger and Four Feathers

This letter from Justin just came in and it is so moving that I had to put it on the blog. Thank you, Justin.

I am a 24 Army vet, I did 3 years in the infantry. Sorry it took many years but I have seen your movie The Four Feathers. Words cannot describe what I feel about it. Simply wow. I just wanted to let you know you did a hell-of-a job on this movie. I lost all my emotions during my time serving in the infantry, but this movie took me outta that dry spell. The part where they were running in the desert after he got out of the prison with his friend by the help of Abu, when they were being chased I jumped outta my seat and ran with then until they got away. Unreal. Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks and hope to catch another one of your films soon, I’m sure they’re close to if not better than this one.
Most Sincerely,
Justin Levitt
Love, trust and faith in directing

Beyond words, sounds. Beyond a blink, a sigh, a smile, a touch, a frown. Is there communication in absolute silence and stillness ? Is there communication in a sense of being ? Beyond just the simplistic scientific ideas of thought transfer and telepathy ?

I have often felt such strong communication in the presence of absolute Love and trust. Not with just vague ideas of words like ‘Hey I love you” thrown at each other , but love and trust that is focussed, active and eager at that moment. Which when combined together seem to bring our deeper selves out from our assumed physical containment, into an energy that mingles and entangles with each other. And that mingling leads to something more ethereal, more harmonious and ideas so limitless that words and gestures could not have conjured up.

I often do that when I direct. I ‘sense’ rather than speak about my relationship with actors. I actively try and create a sense of trust and bonding of love not only with my actors, but with everyone on the set. When the actors are performing, I am loosing my identity into them and creating so called ‘energy fields’ around the set so we all become part of a harmonious ‘moment’ urging for something to be created beyond ourselves but also through ourselves. And often in response they are doing the same.

Not only in my experience with actors like Cate Blanchet , Heath Ledger, Geoffrey Rush and Naseeruddin Shah, with whom I have had experiences where our souls have had the courage to be ‘naked’ in front of each other for that moment, our senses acutely alive to some deeper and often unknown aspect of ourselves in each other, leading to a performance where in hindsight you wonder in awe where and how it evolved so unpredictlably but yet so beautifully.

But also with musicians like Nusrat fateh Ali Khan and A R Rahman. With Nusrat most of the communication was done by him looking into my eyes and singing with tears flowing from both our eyes, having been transported to a realm higher than ourselves. I have been blessed by moments when such people that have trusted and loved me too.

Often producers have felt insecure that I do not look at the ‘Video Monitor’ judging the ‘shot’. I cannot. How do I trust a moment of absolute faith and maintain a connect of love and faith with my actors through a machine ?

But of course such love and trust is possible only after huge amounts of thought and dialogue between my actors and composers and scriptwriters. Before trust comes, there must be understanding. But at the moment of ‘creation’ it all has to be let go into the search for something beyond all that was said and discussed, into something unpredictable.

It’s the essence of all creativity, a huge sense of focussed discipline, followed by a complete letting go. Into moments of absolute faith.

Directing is so much like living. Love , trust and faith.

Heath Ledger and Four Feathers, a beautiful letter

Dear Shekhar–
I’m only 20 years old( though I often feel older) and I’ve recently begun to understand that reality really is an illusion. I’ve taken a break from school in order to get know myself & the world better. So far it’s been the most eye-opening year of my life. I have a better appreciation for life and see beauty in nearly everything. Everything is becoming so synchronized. This weekend I was working on some drawings and decided to put a movie in. It was a copy of The Four Feathers that my roommate had left with me. Sometimes I just put movies in for the background noise while I work. But I actually set down my sketchbook and watched the whole movie. I was hooked and couldn’t believe that it hadn’t received more recognition. It was one of the most powerful movies I’ve seen in a long time. Afterwards I watched the interviews with you and the screenwriter–it was like watching you affirm thoughts that have been swimming around my mind for the past year! I was so grateful and touched that I couldn’t stop crying. But it felt amazing. The next day I looked you up, and found this wonderful site where you continue to share insight with all of us. As well as many of the other posts and articles I’ve read on the site so far, this piece for your daughter is just what I need right now. I just wanted to say thank you for all that you share, and I’m looking forward to exploring your films!
Much love,

Heath Ledger and the Dark Knight

Now that the Dark Knight has broken all records at the BO, Heath left a legacy that is unforgettable. Angels do that. They visit us for short periods of time and cause huge impact on our consciousness. I always told Heath he was an ancient soul in a very young mind, a very young body. Angels, or Ancient Souls are never comfortable trapped in their human selves. They will make you restless and the need for honest creative expression of the deepest nature is a driving force. For those of you that knew his music, the other person that had that quality was Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Who I did Bandit Queen with.
My screen test with Heath for Four Feathers lasted a whole day. He would often call me down the years and laugh his deep laughter, and remember that day with a lot of affection . It was a day of deep exploration between an actor and a director of each other…..


Heath Ledger and Four Feathers

Dear Shekhar
It is a month and two days since he has past. This is the night of the Academy Awards and he is still very much on my mind. I somehow got linked to your site partly because of my discovery of your movie The Four Feathers which I will come back to. I really resonate with the sentiments expressed by TG in post number 10. I too, an ordinary American middle-aged business woman, have been dumbfounded by how affected I have been by Heath Ledgers passing. Im a very practical person, yes with a love of movies, but Im not at an impressionable age and not prone to movie start infatuation or worship.
So it has been very mysterious and strange to me why I have been so impacted, indeed, actually experiencing grief my heart, as thousands of others, goes out to his family and loved ones. Every night I have prayed for his souls safe journey. To try and understand the why of this grief over a person I have never known, I have gone and watched his movies. I had seen A Knights Tale, The Patriot, Monsters Ball and Brokeback Mountain and believed him to be one of the few young actors who was truly on the path to acting greatness. But, I am principally writing this to you to tell you that The Four Feathers was a revelation. I believe it to be my now favorite Ledger movie (and now I have seen all of them except the ones not yet released). It is not a perfect movie (few are) but I think it is an incredibly under valued movie maybe partly due to when it was released post 9/11. I know this might be blasphemy to some but I like this movie more than Lawrence of Arabia. The actors were wonderful. Besides Heath in the starring role — Wes Bentley and the wonderful Djimon Hounsou. After seeing all of Heath Ledgers roles, what stays in my mind is the pivotal scene in the desert. The first time I saw this film I broke down and cried after this scene. I watched the entire film again a couple of days ago. Watching this scene again, I realized that Ledger was not becoming great, he was great and I am thankful his body of work exists. This scene goes way beyond the organic basic need to survive against all odds to a place that is born from total physical and spiritual anguish. The roar that Heath brings up from somewhere deep, deep down to conquer his assailant is raw primal power and expresses a language of soul that can not be adequately articulated.
Shekhar, you mentioned that you will write more about Heath and I hope you do. I want to read more about Heath not for celebrity sensationalism but to continue to celebrate the greatness of the actor and to celebrate his body of work. So tonight, in the spirit of the movies and awards, I will raise a glass to heaven to Heath and also to you Shekhar and give my own little award to The Four Feathers.
Thank you, Sheri.