05-10-2008

Today we reveal the name of our September mystery person and announce the four winners who will receive small gifts for their correct answers. We quote from entries by: Robin Wisdom, Helmut Matt, Javed Iqbal, C. O. Agboola, Jayanta Chakrabarty, David Hewitt, David Griffiths, Jana Vaculik, Constantin Liviu Viorel, Paul R Peacock, David Eldridge, Colin Law, Charles Konecny, Barbara Ziemba, and Roger Christie.

Hello and welcome to Mailbox. As promised, today we will disclose the identity of our September mystery man. So let’s get straight to it.

Robin Wisdom writes from England:

“I think the answer to your question is Karel Reisz although I believe he went to Cambridge not Oxford as per your report. He was a patron of the British Film Institute. Probably the most famous film which he directed was ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ starring Meryl Streep.”

You are indeed right, according to most sources Karel read chemistry at Emmanuel College at Cambridge, even though some sources do cite Oxford. Luckily, that piece of misinformation did not mislead any of you and all the answers were correct.

Helmut Matt from Germany wrote:

“It didn't take me long to find the answer to your new ‘question of the Month’: ‘Sweet Dreams’ and ‘The French Lieutenant's Woman’ were probably Karel Reisz’ most famous movies. He was one of 669 refugees rescued by Sir Nicholas Winton from Nazi death camps in the so called ‘Czech Kindertransport’.”

Javed Iqbal writes from Pakistan:

“His first feature film was ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’. He produced ‘Sweet dreams’, ‘Everybody Wins’, ‘The Gambler’ and many others. He won a BAFTA film award. He died on 25 November 2002.”

Mrs. C. O. Agboola from Nigeria adds:

“Karel Reisz married Betsy Blair in 1963 and they stayed together until he left this planet in 2002. He was a master of documentaries and feature films.”

Jayanta Chakrabarty from India has a personal memory:

“I still remember the screening of ‘The French Lieutenant's Woman’ in a cine club in Calcutta in my college days. The masterly handiwork of this creative genius not only evoked a strong imprint but also provoked a lasting thought and emotion in my young mind.”

David Hewitt lives in Prague:

“Karel Reisz did not direct or produce a great number of films, but his work was indeed very influential. His ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’, adapted from the novel by Alan Sillitoe, introduced Albert Finney as the main character. It was one of a number of films in the early sixties that depicted the life at the time as being stultifying and oppressive. The film shows the possibility of a different way of life that led in many ways to the cultural spirit of the later sixties. He also introduced Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep in ‘The French Lieutenant's Woman’, another adaptation from a novel, in this case by John Fowles. This film was very influential in the seventies and had a screenplay by Harold Pinter.”

David Griffiths also lives in the Czech Republic:

“I have never entered your competitions before, but the answer to this one I actually know! One of my all time favourite films ‘This Sporting Life’ about a rugby league player, that’s the professional rugby game born in the North of England, my true home, was produced by Karel Reisz who was Czech and came originally from Ostrava.”

Jana Vaculik writes from the United States:

“Karel Reisz is the name of the mystery Czech. He was born in Ostrava. Both of his parents perished at Auschwitz and he also Royal Air Force during the war.”

Constantin Liviu Viorel lives in Romania:

“During World War II he served as a fighter pilot in one of the RAF`s Czech squadrons. Afterwards he studied chemistry at Emmanuel College in Cambridge. ... He was a member of the jury at the Cannes Festival in 1970 and 1983.”

Paul R Peacock listens to Radio Prague in Australia:

“The gentleman you seek is Karel Reisz who died only 6 years ago in London. His parents died in Auschwitz after which he moved to the United Kingdom in 1938 and joined the Royal Air Force. When the Second World War ended he went to Cambridge and studied Natural Sciences and began writing for film journals. In 1959 he produced a film ‘We are the Lambeth Boys’ but his first feature film came in 1960, ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.’ In the mid 70's he moved to Hollywood and went on to produce many other films, the most recognizable one to me being ‘The French Lieutenant's Woman’ in 1981.”

David Eldridge from England regularly takes part in our competitions:

“He built up an alliance with people like Lindsay Anderson, Gavin Lamburt in 1947 and later with Tony Richardson and in 1956 co-founded the Free Cinema documentary film movement of England. ... Many of the films of the ‘British New Wave’ are still being shown in specialist British cinemas as they are an important social commentary on British life of the middle of the 20th century as well as being very entertaining films in themselves.”

Colin Law from New Zealand sent a detailed answer as usual:

“Shortly after the end of the Second World War my family relocated from England to New Zealand and, being only eight years old, I reckon that I experienced a degree of ‘culture shock.’ But my experience becomes insignificant when I consider what Karel Reisz must have felt when, at the age of 12, he was evacuated to England. He had left his parents behind in Czechoslovakia, knowing that they may not see each other again. He had to learn a new language when he attended Leighton Park Quaker School, where his older brother Paul had been enrolled a few years earlier. As Karel had been born into a Jewish family he may also have found the Quaker values unfamiliar. But Karel Reisz overcame the obstacles and won respect and esteem as a film-maker, critic, educator and stage director.”

Charles Konecny writes from Ohio:

“I know very little about ‘new wave’ and ‘free cinema’ movements but Karel Reisz had a big impact in the cinema industry, being described as one of the most important film-makers in the post world war period. He was also very generous in helping others get started in film. The Czechs certainly have had their share of noted film directors. It must be in the genes.”

Barbara Ziemba lives in the United States:

“He was a man who wore many different coats throughout his life: as a teenager he was flying fighters for the Royal Air Force, later became a teacher, writer (both books and for journals), a theatre director and film maker. Throughout his movie career he only directed eleven movies, but was very well known for his ambition, innovativeness, great skills and ability in film making.”

Roger Christie listens to Radio Prague in England:

“I believe your September mystery Czech is Karel Reisz. A prolific film director, his 1960 so-called masterwork, ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’, was voted by the British Film Academy as one of the 20 best British films of all time.”

Thank you very much again for your interesting and well-researched answers. This time four small gifts are on their way to Savita Teles from India, Don Schumann from the United States, Robin Wisdom from England and Yuri Nikolaev from Sweden. Congratulations!

 

There is a brand new question for everyone who would like to give it another try this month:

We would like to know the name of the architect who designed the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, known today as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial or the Atomic Bomb Dome.

Please, send your answers to english@radio.cz or Radio Prague, 12099 Prague, Czech Republic by the end of October. Next week we’ll read from your regular letters. Until then, take care.

05-10-2008