Found this interview with Jonesy!
Some people, after they'd been a part of the most influential comedy troupe of all time, might be inclined to rest on their laurels. But not Terry Jones, oh no. After directing the Monty Python gang in a few movies, he spent a good long while indulging his passion for history, before deciding to combine the two and make Erik The Viking. But he was never completely happy with it, and a after a few legal wranglings, has finally been able to recut it. We caught up with him to discuss the process, and ask him about people exploding...
What were you unhappy with about Erik The Viking that drove you to re-cut it?
Well I felt it was too slow. I also felt that we hadn’t audience-tested it as much as we did with the Python movies, and that I hadn’t been given the chance to pull out the real film that is buried within it. Monty Python & The Holy Grail was a disaster when we first showed it, and it took months to hone it and get the comedy right. I wasn’t given the chance to do that with Erik, because we were locked into a release date in London that was sooner than I’d anticipated - in the US they’d already gone ahead and printed 250 prints of the long version before I’d finished cutting.
What has been re-integrated?
Nothing - we had no access to the original materials, so all we could do was cut out and re-order. But when we were re-editing the film, we realized the sound track was not doing its job, so Andre Jaquemain - who worked on the Python movies and records - and I re-dubbed a lot of the film and put on a whole new raft of sound effects. The result is that many sequences have more impact than they had - the attack of the Dragon of the North Sea, for example, is much stronger, and the terrible 'singing' of the Hy-Brazilians now makes me laugh for the first time. This version of the film can only ever exist on DVD.
So it'll be one of these shorter director's cuts?
The new version is 77 mins as against the original cut of 100 mins.
At first we thought the 'Son Of The Director's Cut' was just a joke, but it turns out that there's more to it than that. Can you tell us that story?
I have to say that it was a triple pleasure doing this re-edit. First I’d wanted to do it since before the film came out. Two: I was working with the best editor I’ve ever worked with. And Three he was my son, Bill, who was very influential in this re-cut. He changed the scene order in a way I wouldn’t have thought of but which, I think, works well, and he re-ordered some of the scenes and removed a lot of dead wood. Since the original stories on which the film was based were written for him as a small boy, and since the film was dedicated to him, it’s rather satisfactory that he has now had his say on it.
We rather like your feature films - why have you moved away from making them?
I’m mainly interested in directing the things I write, and it just happens that Ive been rather busy doing history for TV and haven’t written anything. But I’m in the middle of a new screenplay now so perhaps there will be something. I also have to say that neither Erik The Viking nor Wind In The Willows were box office successes, and that limits the number of Hollywood studios beating the door down to get me to direct!
History is obviously a passion of yours – is this usually your starting point for making a film?
History of fantasy - either would be my preference.
Given the trend for history being re-written through the ages, how do you feel about films (mostly Hollywood, let's face it) continuing the tradition?
I agree that history is usually re-written for the age in which it is written. That’s natural and in many ways reasonable. But one has to look at the motives for the re-writing. If the motives are to get at the elusive truth (even allowing that there is no such thing as the final historical truth) then that re-writing or re-interpreting of history is fine - it’s an attempt to reach the truth even if it fails. The trouble with Hollywood re-interpretations is that they are driven by the desire to please an audience - and an American audience at that - and so they descend to deliberately distorting the known facts in order to pander to jingoistic feelings. That is not a way to get at the truth.
What's your favourite period film?
Fanny and Alexander by Ingmar Bergman.
And which do you think is the worst?
Hmmm…Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood - if only I didn’t enjoy it so much!
If money wasn't an issue, which story would you like to make into a film next?
I’d like to make the story of the Lollard revolt against Church corruption in the late 14th century - or the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 - but who’s going to stump up money for that?
Given that money is always an issue, what film will you be working on next?
Well I’ve just written a book called Evil Machines and I’m writing a screenplay of that.
And to finish on something completely different - you once played a character who exploded. Of all of the other people in history who've exploded, who is your favourite?
I think Geoffrey Chaucer the poet, although of course we have no guarantee that he actually exploded - but that theory is as good as any other. Readers can find out all about this my recent book Who Murdered Chaucer (anything for a plug!).
(A new screenplay? Aren´t that good news? Yay!)
... with GLC-9424075 (after 6 pm 9424047)!