Paul Greengrass has directed three Jason Bourne films, starring Matt Damon, Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks in the title role, and the 9/11 film United 93, which earned him an Academy Award nomination. He won a Bafta for the film The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, and he wrote and directed the acclaimed Bloody Sunday. His father was a merchant seaman and his mother a teacher and he grew up in Gravesend in Kent. Expelled from his first secondary school, at his next he made his first film at the age of 16. After learning the craft of documentary-making on World In Action at Granada TV, he turned to making feature films. In October 2017, Paul will receive the BFI fellowship, the British Film Institute's highest accolade. Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is the bbc hello, I'm kirsty young, welcome to desert on an discs where, every week I asked my guests to choose the eight tracks, the book and the luxury item that they want to take with them. If they were cast away on a desert island for rights reasons, the music on these podcast versions is shorter than in the original broadcast. You can find over two thousand more additions to listen to and download on the desert. Island discs website MIKE.
The way this week is the film director pull green grass truly a storyteller from modern times. His movies are culture, shifting in their impact, uniting pace and thrills and threats with a deep seated sense of where the world is now. His blood busting, jason bourne trilogy alone has netted a billion dollars and ticket sales, but beyond the bone, crunching stumps and got twisting intrigue lies. The repeated seem of wilful establishment. Emma quality twas ever thus, as a young tv documentary maker world inaction, he told stories of irish hunger strikers in the coup, klux clam and filmed and apartheid south africa and on the streets of beirut by the. Early two thousands, he was directing highly acclaimed television dramas, including the murdered stephen lawrence and bloody sunday,
by his own admission, he's not much one for the establishments which might explain why he was kicked out of school at fourteen. He says of his work. I dont want spectacle. I dont want people watching from the outside. I want them to be participants. Drama can take you there in a way that the facts content so pool. I wonder that's countries choose have really. Why do think drama can do that? Well, I think cinema. Does it because you can be immersed in it in? I still believe in the power of that big screen in the dark room unite had a profound effect on me as a small boy, and I've never lost that thrill, the pair of it all. I mean it's a turbulent thing to do. Course in it, takes a toll on your life and on your family's lives for sure and, of course, its ultimately,
rapidity life cause you're, making something out of sound light, which is nothing you know and you're trying to craft something that has power empowered to connect to move people. So it's a it's a paradox and that paradox intoxicate I've never lost my love from the very first step inside a television company took today. I mentioned there almost inevitably in introduction the born franchise. This huge juggernaut that gets billions of bottoms onto so many velvet seeks the world you ve made other movies to, and of course we are going to talk about them, but I wonder: is it surprising for You to find yourself as a block buster movie director, intensely surprise to fake. It was never what I thought. I would end
doing and it came along, and I thought oh yeah. I know what to do this when I wouldn't only want to do that and I haven't, but that character spoke to me for sure I loved the fact that jason bourne was a sort of oppositional character. He was pose to the system me in a he knew they were lying. Germany wanted to find out. Why, in I think, if you want to understand something of what happened in britain in america in the west in the early years of the two, thousands, the fear, the paranoia. I think the ball movies give you a pretty good sense: in a pot coon commercial way? But I think that young people particularly responded because of that, and because of the sense that it told the truth at that time, You have spoken about the massive experience of cinema and sound is incredibly important. I would say maybe almost as important as the picture
in your movies extending the little his musical a crucial part of your creativity. Yes, I mean I've always music and outside sound. Rather the music alone in films is vital. The work you do louis, you sound designer angel composer to create something that is a whole experience, that's a vital part of, and certainly the burdensome, and on that note and tell me that the stress test wildlife. one is the great lawrence Oraibi. I have had the privilege of spending my life making television and films so fine, on my desert island. I'd like to remember all those wonderful tons I've had and also what better way remember that lead to listen to one of the great soundtracks of all time.
also the main theme from the original recording David eames, Lauren civil, maybe a composed and conducted by my side and performed by the london philharmonic pilgrim grasp. The question of what modern audiences will accept must surely be a very current one as a filmmaker, given that in this digital world, we are exposed to images answer to relentless piece of high. We consume of those images in a way that human beings have never been before. How to navigate passes a filmmaker. Well, I think it's interesting when I made born supremacy, which is the first time it is made up of soda hollywood film, I had a sort of a state. of my on, which was in a way I thought reaching back to the roots of british documentary realism. I liked seem lenses and I'd like to have the key.
when a hand, and I like to be very immersive in my way. I wondered when I went to make a commercial from how that would work, and first they were, I think, a bit sceptical as to house gonna work when they saw pot rush sheets up. Remember the first time we sat in the theater, and I could hear one that produces it fuck I to see after that would the camera, but later we when we came to shoot born ultimatum, remember being on the station and seeing for the first time, people filming us coming with their mobile phones and that A huge impact on me because I suddenly realized that what I thought was a quite old fashioned, aesthetic actually had become, to my surprise, very contemporary, because particularly people will use to capture images on their mobile phones that were handheld, very roar and rough, and so
They wanted the cinema to reflect that thinking of some of your other work. Captain philips united. Ninety three in particular the nature of the feeling of threats. I mean that is quite obviously a very good dramatic device, but Why you're interested in it simply as a human being? Well, it's a good question. May I dont craft those things subconsciously if you oughta made in rio cause in in the films up might again and again so slow, build up and the choreography of conflict? If you want to call it that a man, I think I've always had a sense of dread about me inside for sure, but I think ultimately, these things go back to your. Chartered. You know I can remember, as a small boy watching snow, white and being absolutely terrified by the the witch.
and the relationship between the film. She mike and your experiences on this clear until many years later, many years late, much more than that to come, I think for now tell me about your second disk. We are going to hear the great baby king. Why doesn't it Well, I listen to and avoid listened a lot to blues music, and this particular song reminds me very much of being a young man working at granada television in my twenties aren't. That was when I first will be king play life up immensely and just me of of she is when you make your way and life seems very rich with possibilities and hearing baby king live it's bad as good as it gets now,
why? men Why, Nothing, but let us be king and blue. Can you guess poking grass captain philips you twenty thirteen release lips? Tom hanks, of course, a movie about a man who spends so much of his life at sea and your father did which brings an extra debts? I think, too, that movie tell me a little.
more by some. Well, he was a seafarer women. He still alive is very elderly. Now he grew up in a very strict baptist family. They were the strict, in particular baptists, the lord's peculiar people as it set over there. Door of the chapel and they were nonconformists and he rebelled against that. You went to see. I think that gave him a freedom, my mother, was an only child. Her mother, I think, was quite a controlling person and I think they might this pact. Since my view, I don't know, I wasn't there, but my senses that I made this pact unspoken, probably to escape
from their families, then they escaped into the seafaring life and that choice certainly was the defining choice for them, but also think for all of us that my brothers and sisters in me- and so what was the nature of that relationship that so shaped here. I think it was a tempestuous marriage. They were each to each other. The most important person in their lives- I think that They were in many ways ill suited to each other, but for this central packed in the sand, He was very solitary. She was very good curious he's very, you know, interval did she was highly extroverted ended it made for these tremendous clashes, of course, when he came back so that was what we had to leave.
Through, but I don't want to paint a false picture. It was a wise, a great love story. I'm a nice day together, They brought us all up and they went all the way through their lives and heat nursed her devotedly in in through many years of illness before she died, but the
see this collision of opposites. I I think shaped me very greatly because it gave me an insight, and I think I I think for all my brothers and sisters. We had to make sense of love and conflict together. You know, if I can put it like that, the farewell crit, how was he greeted when he came home? Well, some of my earliest memories are being packed into a rickety old car and we would go off to wherever it was that he was coming into port and it wouldn't matter. If it was three in the morning, we would all be there goodness talked to Peter what you make of that. May I think it's amazing we're going to take a break poet and listen to some music
show me a picture about this and why it's pretty clear wife doesn't blow the wind southerly kathleen feria is some it's a great song about the seafaring life and it's one of my earliest memories. She was my dad's favorite singer and it speaks to the reality of the sea. No Today the thing two It's
it is true, comes captain blood when suddenly pumping grass, he went to Movies is a kid your dad took you doctor, Zhivago, you went to see hamlet. Eighty nine of my rights knew about it. He did. He had a wonderful belief that if it was good, no matter how old you were, you would respond so a very young boy. He would take me to shakespeare the opera I can still remember Let me see him ackerman, remember what saint I was in. I can remember seeing David Warner. I can remember the velvet kate that he wore
I can remember seeing the sword fine, I just found it absolutely thrilling. Intoxicating profound. Moving in these experiences shape, you eve spoken a vice grace and in kansas, this endless vacant estuary estates hard by. the three marshes too to be there and to be you as a teenager in what would then be the late sixties. What did that feel like to you? It was a very atmospheric place groves and got a particular identity. I think I was oddly Why lonely ass a child, even though I have many brothers and sisters? I think I was had trouble fitting in in the very seat that you are sitting in. I spoke to Tom hanks about almost exactly what you are describing, which is in the middle of a big, sometimes very complex, family situation through movies and through me,
Dick he had what was almost for him, a sort of intense sensory experience that gave him connection that rings, or else it out completely, and I think that in my case- and I think this is at the heart of why you want to make cinema you have these expire It is when you are very young, so you have an unjust, the of conflict, I think and then an end how it builds and am what that's about. and then you go to the cinema, and you see it reflected with them. Sublime artistry- and this is the most sublime truthfulness and then later in life. When you get to try and make your own pieces of work, oh really trying to replicate the experiences that you had when you're in a dark room on your own watching cinema and it becomes a sort of system.
He and labour, because you are struggling to do something that no matter what you do can never be as pure as intensive which experience as a child. I think it's true filmmaking. Till Asleep- exposes a wheel for us as a human being and your ways haunted when you finish them by the fact that never quite was what you hoped it would be, and that in demon is what drives you want, but it's also the inner promised that lose you on. Let's go for even with some great music to tell me about this once you're force one one This is the beatles couldn't possibly be on a desert island without some some beetles music, because its through my life like an arrow- and it reminds me
my brothers and sisters, and particularly of my older sister? Sadly, died about ten years ago, I can actually remember coming back in tears after seeing the beatles in accounts at saint John touched me, refusing the wash our hands for weeks sending my mother absolutely demented. So this
This reminds me of the explosion of the new tasks was way. That was the beatles I saw I standing there so tell me for green grass. Why did you get kicks out of grapes and grammar school? I think you could probably summer with being on absolutely huge pain in the ass, I mean when I look back now they must have been tearing their hair out and they couldn't find a school that I would could go to. You know I was pretty much falling between.
cracks and then I ended up. I don't know how, having an into with a man, could talk to him. Who is the headmaster of seven school, which was outwardly. I conventional products go I didn't know them- was it had this reputation at that time for being brilliantly innovative in its teaching, particularly in the arts. And I remember going in to see him and he was a very calm person and he said I think you should come here. I think it would suit you. I don't know how the business, because my parents couldn't have afforded to sent me there and when I say that my school korea was not very very good, it wasn't, but I owe everything to that school. I really do, and it was in the art block at that school that you began to feel tat. You may tell me about the film you made: the room was a place where you could go and almost live from nice to be there to very late
night and that was where one day I remember being in the- that little room at the back and I found in their and our balikh sixty mill camera that was catherine dust in a drawer, as I recall, and I came out and tested them to get me some film and were together with a friend we made a little film with some life those who used to draw and some in gaining and some cynicism. We made a little horrified that it was a sort of her age spoon well mixed with intent, sexual offences, offender- and I remember it to this day- is just a defining moment of my life, because the entire
higher experience. All the anxieties I had in life, all my difficulties to fit in disappeared and I became absorbed in writing this. Whatever scenario was and setting the angle poised lights, because we didn't have any proper lights and on hearing the film running, crossed the sprawl kits and I just found it. The most bitter for peaceful thing. I'd ever done in my entire life programme dress. Let's have some music tell me about this. It's your fifth we're gonna, hear fair port convention meat on the ledge This reminds me very much of being in the autumn. We saw a record play in this. So reminds me of being a teenager finding my. Why realising that the word things in life. That worked for me, and there was a place where I could fit
Why meat on the ledge, fearful convention, so poor green grass. You ended up at world and action. It was at the time this really a ground breaking television programme. It was made micro, not a tv.
describe as one pot documentary realism. One part radical journalism, one pot politics by you m- was it populated exclusively by cocksure lefties. Not really I mean those up, I think the key thing about will dimension and the key thing back granada was. It was a non metropolitan television station and the ethos of the company was that we were not to be like the bbc. We were to be outside, as I remember very early on getting in the lift, and I was just a young research I just joined and suddenly David Clara ran the company getting in the left and of meat began to perspire very heavily up picnic, let's proximity to a basque as though that was utterly as we got
My floor of jordan is a date yoni research. I said yes, he said your jobs to make trouble, but was it I mean amazing, and it would be fair to say that you had something of a personal opinion it by the time you hit seti. What was going on your head at the time? Well, I'd been granada for ten years I have learnt a language of documentary film making, but I had a secret desire to make films movies and film for had been started. David rose, who ran film for was a great and visionary man, and he had a bull
If that had to be new voices in there- and I was very lucky to be one of those, so the film that you got to make men was resurrected. That was in nineteen, eighty nine. It took a lot of effort on your public. Pretty much came and went as as film is urging it to give you a job in tv drama directly after the air in ninety. Ninety then made the city of flights that start helena bonham carter and can Esperanto ever happen to them, and it was an experience that crushed you. You once said so. I wonder what it taught you I didn't feel my voice is the truth of it I dont think I had a point of view at all on the material and I should have done and it had to crush me on. I really thought that giving up, but oddly it was the best thing for me, because you learn from your mistakes so much more than anything. That goes right and it gave me the the steel, I think, the
If I was going to carry on. I was going to tell my stories my way. I was going to control them entirely and never compromise, and I think that's when you become a filmmaker another shooter. If I can put it that way- and I was lucky enough to work with a close friend when not read it with a net, my next from which has still not from an he demanded of me. The eid be true to myself and the most important thing in filmmaking is to have a voice to have a film only you can tell and arrange the places that reveal the truth. As you seem less, have someone music tenable getting a night? Well, all my desert island. I would like to have some.
problem with laptop from my dad took me to a pro when I was very young and my favorite rapper is magic flute. I think it's one of the most sublime pieces of her and, of course, this great life live by these humans, under the conflict of sir ass, queen, the more I relate to that. How do you mean kill way under that, and I want to listen to the dual team propaganda guy propaganda cause? It's a silly folk song at its it reminds you of the joy of humanity in what it is to be alive
up up up up ordeal disease. I am. I leave us no speed where my
the propaganda propaganda duet from it sets magic flute with godfrey turning janet's perry and the berlin philharmonic, and the conductor was habit on carryin pilgrim grasp it was the drama, the merger of student loans, that one you your first back to that was in ninety ninety nine. That was followed by bloody sunday in two. says me to that one prizes at both berlin and the sundance film festivals, in making stories about water, profound tragedies in the middle of real people's lives. You ve done it too united. Ninety three, which is the movie you made about one of the planes that went down on the day of nine eleven everybody died to sit with Stephen lawrence's mom and dad to sit with the families of the survivors of bloody sunday and to watch your film with them. Can you explain what that is like.
How do you feel up enormous responsibility and you hope the eve discharge that responsibility well. and that you told the truth. I remember very clearly showing Doreen lawrence that film and I said to her before we went to endless and it's it's going to be quite difficult. Cuz there is a saying, then I will see where we shall we be discussing advanced message. I just want to remind you that we got to see a character. Cool Steven, you know in a day situation. I hope that's. Ok and she fixed me with a most steely look and said: there's nothing! You can shop That will be the remotest spit like what I experienced, and so you don't be sensitive a my camp, its people out there have to understand the truth and that you see time and time and time again, it's
I don't want to see the truth. It asks for whom these stories are too soon. It's us who don't want to be confronted with the details. Now, that's not to say that since tippit indiscretion isn't a part of it, but we should never forget that this is part of our world and those who are the victims demand to be heard. Who is always to have more music talking gas and we're gonna? Listen to your sentence disk? Well, I've always listen to a lot of bruce Springsteen, all my life since he arrived in the early months. Seventies, and this particular song of especial me for me reminds me of a night I went to see seem on this particular tool and he played this song. It's always seemed to me to sum up marriage. standing relationships, and are you the summit. I wedding and speaks to the truth.
so love on alive shit. If my wife, John forever. sue, you shouldn't, we lose vision Indeed, Should I be We should be. wait That was bruce Steam with the liberation of if I should fall, poor green grass filmmaking, of course, is a highly collaborative process. Can you give me a sense of just what it feels like to sit a top this
massive organization machine, you know you have under extras, you ve got multiple cameras. You got stunt coordinators, and there you are in charge. It's important not to be frightened of it is important not to look down. You have to have a certain temperament. I think, on a certain ego. Probably well, let's be honest strength like frankly, yet its many way it's the same job that my dad did you set sail on a long voyage. You have, meet you way you wanna get to and your job as the directive is to get the cargo to port safely. Like your father, you have five children like your father? You go away on these long journeys for long stretches of time. How do you guard against becoming too self control or to emotionally doesn't when you ve been away and have these intends experiences elsewhere that have shaped you. Will it
is a challenge for me: I definitely have a an ability to become heavily internalized. I think that comes from my childhood. He knows how I'm at would be functioning but inwardly alone. I think it's part of the director syndrome meeting when I said earlier. If you place yourself in places that so ticklish me expose you that the psychological drama love doing the job, I think, but I have a a wife jenna, who has always understood, but that's about instinctively and has told me the meaning of happiness. That's what's.
Rounded may that and my children less here then you're, fine piece, final choice today. Well, Bob Dylan is like the beatles in honour of through my musical life, and I would certainly if I was on my desire and think a lot about my children, and this is a song that he wrote that I think is a perfect song for a father to today's children. which is a two way street. tuesday, we still
for your children, puffing grass not spoken with whenever young. It's time now. For me to give you the books, you gets the bible, you get a complete lack of shakespeare and you gets taken other another book along with some. What's he gonna be well, my book is hundred years of crystal palace club by virtue of this law, an ovum made exactly because I've been watching the palace for about fifty is dramatic times. You then, of course, But we will, we will survive and I'll look through those pages on my desk it'll. Give me endless evenings of of joy. That is you put than undue luxury. My luxury will be to take.
MIKE iter and one of the joys of being on a desert island. If I can have a feast on books, too, is I'll get the time to sit and get a few songs learn all the way through, as opposed to the tiny fragments and battle and time me. While I wait to be rescued and a single disk to save from your s. Oh, I would take care the bruce springsteen because it has so many very far happy memories. It's? U is poor green grass. Thank you very much for letting us here. Your desert island discs. Thank you for having me I hope you enjoy this addition. A desert, island discs, you'll, find more interviews with film directors, including Alan parker, mightily grin the charter and john system at BBC
don't count on uk desert. I noticed this Is the bbc.
Transcript generated on 2022-06-12.