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[Part One]  Part Two  -  Nicolas Roeg Interview  -  SFX Magazine August 1999

                          So is Roeg forever facing people hell-bent on telling him just
                          what his films are about? "If it has a truth in it, then there are
                          many aspects or sides to that truth. It's the most important
                          but at the same time the least edifying question. With Don't
                          Look Now it's about making you aware of danger, trying to
                          make you aware that life is very short. A story is nothing
                          without a premise, and the premise of Don't Look Now is
                          nothing is what it seems."

                          Sutherland glimpses his own funeral, though. Surely this is
                          predestination? "No, it's about nothing is what it seems,"
                          reiterates Roeg, unshakably, as someone tells him just what
                          his film is about. "The premise allows us to ask 'What makes
                          God laugh?'. On the way to that predestined place, you think
                          you're in control.

                          "All knowledge and all things are connected. We know that.
                          We accept scientific chain reactions, but the human chain
                          reaction is enormous. I think the furthest we can be from any
                          other human being on this earth is the 40th cousin - of
                          anyone, Bushman, Aboriginal, Laplanderů That's pretty
                          amazing. So everything has to have a chain reaction."



                          Does it unsettle him that he cannot see the whole plan or
                          pattern? "People go to fortune tellers for that," says the film
                          maker, gently contemptuous. "Frightened people. I wouldn't
                          want to know the plan, would you?"

                          Trace Roeg's own timeline and you will find ample evidence of
                          personal cause and effect. As a boy, a shot of a feather
                          floating upwards in a Laurel and Hardy feature showed him
                          that movies were the finest way to unspool reality. Is film his
                          way of curbing and controlling time, re-ordering moments with
                          the stitch of a frame?

                          Roeg nods. "Yes, because we know very little about time.
                          We've made up stuff about time to try and control it, but we
                          really know so little. We divide it up between linear and lateral
                          time and bang, maybe it all goes sideways - who knows?
                          We're locked into it. We're always saying 'God, is that the
                          time?' That's how rooted this thing is in our lives, this fucking
                          mechanical clock that controls us. With The Man Who Fell to
                          Earth I wanted to get rid of any sense of time, because it's
                          surprising how often we mention it in our lives. One thing got
                          by me until the cutting - I suddenly heard someone saying
                          'I've been here three months already.' I thought, 'How did
                          that get in?' I had to dub it. It slips by you.

                          "Time is fascinating," declares Roeg, his neurons racing with
                          passion. "We have no concept of what it means. We're coming
                          up to the Millennium, but it's not very much - it might have
                          been in a less literary and aware era, but what's the big deal?
                          It has nothing to do with the Judaic calendar, or the Chinese.
                          I think that the computer and the internet will change our
                          whole idea of time, as much as the sprung watch did. The
                          watch changed the world terrifically, altered our entire
                          consciousness of time. It changed everything. It changed
                          imagination. Computers can put you in touch with people
                          whether its night-time or daytime."

                          Does Roeg keep pace with quantum physics? "Yeah, I do, but
                          in a very, very lay way. Around the turn of the century art and
                          science divided - before that science was mixed in with
                          religion and the arts, and then it split. Scientists didn't believe
                          in faith. It became very pragmatic and mechanical and a lot of
                          wonder left the scientists, except for people like Einstein. Now
                          people are realising that science needs art. It needs an
                          amazing thought.

                          "I believe whatever you think of will happen. It may not be
                          you who will make it happen, but there's some sort of
                          universal unconscious. On The Man Who Fell to Earth we
                          asked ourselves 'How would Mister Newton make money?'.
                          Would he go into armaments? And then we thought 'Why
                          don't we have him doing software?' He could slide in unnoticed
                          - there are two ways to approach power, either from the
                          outside, battering it, or slyly, from the inside.

                          "And so we had him creating patents. And we said 'What can
                          he invent?' What about a disposable camera, where you buy
                          it, use the film and chuck the camera away? I promise you
                          this wasn't in the air when we were shooting it. I thought it
                          would take 25 years. Within five years I was at LA airport and
                          Fuji were there - buy the camera, throw it away. Some guys in
                          Japan were obviously imagining it too. I like to think that
                          they'd watched The Man Who Fell to Earth!"

                          How much else is prophecy, then? David Bowie, frail and lost,
                          barricaded away from humanity behind endless banks of
                          television screens? Is this a glimpse of our twentyfour-seven
                          future, ever more dependent on cable, digital, the internet,
                          ever more hungry for the next visual fix? Was Roeg warning
                          us?

                          "Now they sell televisions where you can have four different
                          programmes in the corner, just so you don't miss anything,"
                          he says, with quiet amazement. "When we first thought of
                          using television in The Man Who Fell to Earth we asked
                          ourselves 'What does it actually do?' You are outside it. It's a
                          passive medium. I mean, the number of households that
                          have television on with the sound off. That's why Mister
                          Newton says 'I don't want to miss anything'. He can't stop
                          watching it. And I felt it was so seductive. It's like a terrible
                          siren call, isn't it? Television shows you everything and tells
                          you nothing. Nothing."

                          Too soon Roeg must go, and you feel the loss of a billion
                          conversations. "Make it up," he offers, with a handshake.