Boorman honoured as ‘Excalibur’ hits 30
The doyen of Irish cinema, John Boorman was féted at a reception in Bray Town Council buildings on Friday, 23rd January to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the director and Co. Wicklow residents’ most beloved film Excalibur.
Organised by Mark Wright of Mossy Hare Productions, who is currently planning a documentary on the making of the 1981 fantasy classic, the night saw friends and colleagues of Mr. Boorman honour his contribution to the film industry. Guests included Ardmore Studios boss Kevin Moriarty, Brenda Rawn, wife of director Neil Jordan, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Paolo Tullio, and Philomena Lynott.
‘Personally I have very vivid memories of the making of Excalibur, at the time my family were living directly across the road from the studios’ said Mr. David Grant, Chairman of Bray Town Council and officiator of the proceedings. ‘Once they were no longer needed some props made their way over to the open space beside our house and these provided many hours of enjoyment for the younger generation.’
Chairman Grant went on to read messages of goodwill from Neil Jordan and actor Daniel Day-Lewis who were unable to attend due to work and family commitments. ‘Excalibur was the film that started a plethora of Irish film careers; those of Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson and I to name only three. It is that beautiful thing, a work of the imagination and a great piece of popular cinema. It will live as long as people revisit the Arthurian legend’ wrote Mr. Jordan.
Mr. Boorman was then introduced and expressed his gratitude for the occasion. ‘I’ve lived for 40 years in Co. Wicklow and, with a few exceptions, all the scenes in Excalibur were shot within a couple of miles of my house. I had that rare experience of being able to make a film whilst sleeping in my own bed. The reason I came to live in the Wicklow hills is because I fell in love with them and that whole landscape which has been a wonderful inspiration to me and continues to be.’
Speaking to Film Ireland, Mossy Hare’s Mark Wright stressed the importance of Excalibur’s filming in Co. Wicklow. ‘The 1980s were lean times so when a production with a budget of 11 million dollars came to Ardmore it was a boon to the local community. John Boorman insisted on employing Irish staff in all departments so it created huge employment. Our documentary will celebrate Excalibur and use its making as prism through which to look at the broader Irish film industry of the time’.
The reception concluded with the presentation of a sculpture by local artist Laurent Mellet to Mr. Boorman before attendee’s made their way to watch the Arthurian epic in Bray’s Mermaid Arts Centre.