More MS news articles for December 2000

New film 'will put right' the damaged reputation of genius du Pre

The Independent - United Kingdom; Dec 15, 2000

THE FORMER husband and closest friends of the late Jacqueline du Pre have made a television film in secret to restore her reputation after what they believe was a mauling in the movie Hilary and Jackie.

That film, based on the book by Jackie's sister, Hilary, portrayed the cellist, who died of multiple sclerosis in 1987 at the age of 42, as manipulative and neurotic, and showed her seducing her brother-in-law.

Starring Emily Watson as Jackie, the film was an artistic success but provoked protests from enraged friends of the cellist, including the late Lord Menuhin. It is also said to have appalled du Pre's former husband, the pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim.

To date, Barenboim has never passed comment on the matter, but he and other world- renowned musicians do so in the new documentary film directed by Christopher Nupen, a well-known film-maker and long time friend of du Pre and her former husband.

Also appearing in the film alongside Barenboim will be the acclaimed musicians Vladimir Ashkenazy, Zubin Mehta, Itzhak Perlman, John Williams and Pinchas Zukerman.

Nupen revealed that the BBC and the Arts Council, which financed Hilary and Jackie, rejected his requests for finance for the new film, while the BBC refused even to show it.

Nupen, who knew du Pre intimately for 26 years and has made 95 per cent of all the film of her that exists, will have his film shown on Channel 5.

The film-maker revealed that he was turned down at the BBC by Kim Evans, who was the corporation's head of arts at the time. She later left the position to become the director of arts at the Arts Council, where she once again turned down his request for money.

Nupen said: "I wanted the BBC to do this film. Everything I've offered to the BBC in 27 years has been accepted with gratitude, so I was amazed when they turned this down. They told me the subject had been aired - I simply didn't understand it. But I've never begged.

"I had to fund the film myself. It was a pounds 150,000 budget, and I'm going to lose a lot of money on it. The Arts Council funded Hilary And Jackie to the tune of pounds 1m. I wrote to the Arts Council chairman, Gerry Robinson, and said that that film put a false picture to the world and we should put it right. I got an answer from Kim Evans saying they didn't fund TV programmes."

Nupen said Barenboim told him: "You know I've avoided talking about this, but I will not say no to you."

Barenboim has agreed to come to London next month to launch the documentary. In the film, which will be shown on Channel 5 on 18 February, he says: "She had sensitivity and intuitive understanding ... and was therefore able to make every musical performance so alive that you had the feeling she was inventing the music at that very moment."

Nupen said: "In Hilary And Jackie she is shown as having a destructive effect on the people she came near to. But in fact she enlivened everyone she came near. She is described as self-centred - one of her problems was that she was not self-centred enough. She was shown as mean-spirited - she was one of the most generous spirits I have ever met.