Minghella on movies

Director talks about Breaking And Entering at Scottish BAFTA screening.

by Amber Wilkinson

It was a dark and stormy night but torrential rain and the prospect of charity Casino Royale screenings in Glasgow and Edinburgh, didn't deter a sizeable crowd from attending the Scottish BAFTA screening of Breaking And Entering at Edinburgh Cineworld.

The film, which tells the tale of a man who embarks on an ill-thought out affair, might not have proved draw enough - since it has already opened at the box office - but the prospect of a Q&A with director Anthony Minghella and the film's producer Tim Bricknell certainly was.

Despite a rocky start, with the microphones refusing to work and a brief re-dimming of the lights, Minghella - wearing a natty scarf, no doubt due to the chilly temperatures in Screen 11 - and Bricknell were chatty enough.

"It was 15 years since I'd written an original film," said Minghella. And it seems he was keen to return to the modern, urban landscape of films such as Truly Madly Deeply.

Referring to his more recent epics, such as Cold Mountain he said it was great to get back to writing something "more intimate, personal and contemporary."

He added: "If you venture into period film-making the freedom diminishes.

"Sets are only built in one slot so the ability to call on something in the world around you is greatly diminished."

Breaking And Entering is all about the minutae of relationships but it isn't just those between adults that are put under the spotlight, Minghella was also keen to explore the bond between children and teir parents.

He said: "I was intrigued by experiences of seeing mothers go to such lengths to protect their children. In Bosnia and Sarajevo and closer to home.

"I wanted to look at two children who had special gifts and special problems."

He is also keen to point out how easy it is to judge others.

"I've been preoccupied for a long time with invisible classes. We have a voiceless constituency who make cities work. We are threatened by them even though we depend on them."

He recounts a tale of working in the editing suite late one night, when one of his Nigerian cleaners stuck her head round the door and said, 'you're in the cutting room a long time.' It turned out that she had worked in film production back in Africa - where they didn't have so much time to edit. Minghella says he found himself guilty of the very attitude he's trying to take issue with.

"I assumed I knew what type of person she was by the job she was doing."

The director initially came up with the idea for Breaking And Entering a decade and a half ago and originally inteded to have a couple come home from a birthday party to find they had been burgled. Instead of things being taken, they would be added and these things would be indicative of what was wrong with the marriage.

Years later, while working in a converted church, it was successfully burgled 13 times, prompting the director to take a fresh look at the script - this time with an athletic child taking the role of the thief.

Some critics have suggested Minghella may have had a neat ending foisted on him by Studio executives but he robustly defends the decision as his.

"The whole point of the movie is the ending," he said. "The movie was about giving everyone a second chance - not always to run to judgement about people because we think we know what they are."

"When I was younger my lung collapsed, when I asked if it would happen again, the consultant said, 'scar tissue is much stronger than regular tissue'.

"If you can fix something and repair it, it can be stronger than it was before."

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