John Boorman

From Academic Kids

John Boorman (born January 18, 1933 in Shepperton, Surrey, United Kingdom), is an Irish filmmaker best known for his feature films such as Point Blank, Deliverance, Excalibur, and The General.

First working as a dry-cleaner and journalist in the late 1950s, he moved into TV documentary filmmaking, eventually becoming the head of the BBC's Bristol-based Documentary Unit in 1962. Capturing the interest of producer David Deutsch, he was offered to direct a film aimed a repeating the success of A Hard Day's Night (directed by Richard Lester in 1964): Catch Us If You Can (1965) is about competing pop group Dave Clark Five. While not as successful commercially as Lester's film, it smoothed Boorman's way into the film industry. Boorman was drawn to Hollywood for the opportunity to make larger-scale cinema and in Point Blank (1967), a powerful interpretation of a Richard Stark novel, brought a stranger's vision to the decaying fortress of Alcatraz and the proto-hippy world of San Francisco. Lee Marvin gave the then unknown director his full support, telling MGM he deferred all his approvals on the project to Boorman.

After Point Blank, Boorman re-teamed with Marvin (and Toshiro Mifune) for the robinsonade of Hell in the Pacific (1968), which tells a fable story of two representative soldiers stranded together on an island and forced to put aside war to survive.

Returning to the UK, he made Leo The Last (US/UK, 1970), which, with the presence of Marcello Mastroianni importing a Fellinian influence, won him a Best Director award at Cannes.

Boorman achieved much greater resonance with Deliverance (US, 1972, adapted from a novel by James Dickey). The odyssey of city people played by Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty as they trespass into Appalachian backwoods and discover their inner savagery, captured the imagination of audiences and became Boorman's first true box office success.

At the beginning of the 1970s Boorman was planning to film The Lord of the Rings and corresponded about his plans with J. R. R. Tolkien.

A wide genre variety of films followed: Zardoz (1973) starred Sean Connery in a bizarre take on post-apocalyptic science fiction. Excalibur (UK, 1981) is well-remembered as a mythical film (and one of the very few "true" retellings of the Arthurian legend and tragedy. Very eco-conscious, Boorman's foray into Hollywood filmmaking, The Emerald Forest (1985), a rainforest adventure, casts his actor son Charley Boorman as an eco-warrior, mingling commercially-required elements - action and near-nudity - with anthropological detail and the gorgeous threat of a green inferno. Beyond Rangoon (US, 1995) and The Tailor of Panama (US/Ireland, 2000) both explore unique worlds with alien characters stranded and desperate in them.

Hope and Glory (1985, UK) is his most autobiographical movie to date, a re-telling of his childhood under the WWII blitz.

In 1999, Boorman won the "Best Director" award at the Cannes Film Festival for his black-and-white biopic of Martin Cahill (The General), a somewhat glamorous criminal in Ireland eventually killed by the IRA.

He lives in Annamoe, County Wicklow, Ireland, close to the famous Glendalough twin lakes.


  • 1965 Catch Us If You Can (WB)
  • 1967 Point Blank (MGM) Panavision
  • 1969 Hell In The Pacific (CRC) Panavision
  • 1970 Leo The Last (UA)
  • 1972 Deliverance (WB) Panavision
  • 1974 Zardoz (Fox) Panavision
  • 1977 Exorcist II: The Heretic (WB)
  • 1981 Excalibur (Orion/WB)
  • 1985 The Emerald Forest (Embassy) Panavision
  • 1987 Hope and Glory (Columbia)
  • 1990 Where The Heart Is (Touchstone)
  • 1991 I Dreamt I Woke Up (Short / Merlin Films/BBC)
  • 1995 Two Nudes Bathing (Short)
  • 1995 Beyond Rangoon (Castle Rock/Col.) Panavision
  • 1998 The General (Sony Classics) Panavision
  • 1998 Lee Marvin: A Personal Portrait (AMC)
  • 2001 The Tailor of Panama (Columbia) Panavision
  • 2005 In My Country / Country Of My Skull (Sony Classics)


  • John Boorman: Adventures of a Suburban Boy (London: Faber and Faber, 2003)
  • Excerpt from autobiography Adventures of a Suburban Boy ( recounting Boorman's contact with Lee Marvin.
  • Boorman, John: Money Into Light: The Emerald Forest: A Diary (London: Faber and Faber, 1985)
  • Boorman, John, Bright Dreams, Hard Knocks: A Journal for 1991 in John Boorman, Walter Donohue (eds), Projections: A Forum for Film Makers, (London: Faber and Faber, 1992)
  • Ciment, Michel: John Boorman (London: Faber and Faber, 1986)

External links

de:John Boorman fr:John Boorman


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