This book by Richard Attenborough and Diana Hawkins is a fascinating account of film making. It starts with the Oscar ceremony when the film ‘Gandhi’ took 8 awards out of 11 nominations. From there the book relates the decades long efforts to get the film made and Attenborough’s subsequent film making adventures.
The book shows the commitment of Attenborough to his causes (and his films). If he believes in a project then he goes to extraordinary lengths to make them happen. Time and again, he has to convince people to fund his projects and he often puts his personal wealth on the line to get others to believe in the projects too.
The book is co- authored with Diana Hawkins. She provides a slightly different perspective on the film making adventures. She adores her boss but does not that get in the way of her telling everyone how difficult he can be. Throughout his life he has befriended the great and the good and the names of many famous people are dropped without it ever appearing boastful. In an interesting diversion, Diana Hawkins relates working on the film ‘A Passage to India’ with the director, David Lean; this proved to be an entirely different experience for her!
There is immense sadness, too. The book has a photograph of his extended family, taken in 2003 to celebrate his 80th birthday. This turned out to be the last photo of everyone together, for in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami his daughter and granddaughter were killed.
What comes across most strongly is his belief that films can make a positive difference, especially when the story has a social and moral message. It is a belief I share. This book is in my hinterland. What’s in yours?