My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Recently the BFI had a Dirk Bogarde season. To tie in with this they produced a brilliant little book, all about a rather brilliant film – ‘Victim’ . The book is written by John Coldstream, who was a perfect choice for the task, as he recently wrote a fantastic biography of Mr Bogarde and also compiled his unpublished letters which is one of my favourite books.
To read that and of course this book, you are struck once again by what a dichotomy Dirk was. He lived with his partner Anthony Forward for over 40 years and yet up to his dying day never admitted their love. They were merely friends who happened to live together… there is a very poignant letter right at the end of the ‘Bogarde Letters’ book when his niece asks him about his sexuality and even then he denied it. So you can only then ask yourself why time and again he chose to play a homosexual in ‘Victim’, ‘The Servant’, ‘The Spanish Gardner’ (albeit he wasn’t gay but the object of Michael Hordens affection.), the Servant and of course, ‘Death in Venice’. It’s as though he were crying out to tell of his love….
The book focuses on the film, how it was conceived by the writer Janet Green, how they managed to get it past the censors, who in fact helped them out to make it suitable for the 1961 audience. The book contains some lovely photographs but also the notes that Dirk made on the back of his leather bound script, in his own hand – he takes you through the emotional journey he takes during the story.
Dirk often tells of how it was he who came up with the wonderful speech he gives to his wife about his feelings for the boy, ‘I wanted him’ ……
The film at the time was of course groundbreaking! People tell how it changed their lives forever, sat in silent film houses people found out for the first time they were not alone in their feelings!
It’s a great book and a great accompaniment for this film.