Thursday, August 27, 2020

"It's probably the most special film I've ever been in"

Last year's The Day Shall Come may have received a lukewarm reception (something of an unwanted first for Chris Morris), but the same certainly can't be said of his debut full-length film, 2010's Four Lions. Daniel Dylan Wray's oral history - assembled for Vice with contributions from writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, producer Mark Herbert and actors Kayvan Novak, Nigel Lindsay and Riz Ahmed, as well as Morris himself - is an entertaining behind-the-scenes tour.

Four Lions was prompted by the realisation that farcical levels of stupidity and incompetence are universal, and wannabe terrorists are no different. This helped Morris to challenge the narrative that "this is an incomprehensibly evil, foreign culture that is absolutely outside of our understanding". And understanding is precisely what he set out to do. His research appears to have been time-consuming and meticulous - which ultimately meant that, despite the controversial subject matter, the film got the content and tone right (much to Armstrong's relief).

Morris may have been a tough taskmaster on set, but there was also (naturally) a lot of silliness. Lindsay talks about the daft ways they maintained secrecy (using false names for the film and director, sending party invites rather than call sheets, shredding scripts) and the time when he upset the owner of a greengrocers' stall by destroying it while dressed as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle for a scene that wasn't even used. And pity the poor chap who had to get a fake rocket launcher through customs to Spain...

Aphex Twin emerges as a good egg, having gone to the trouble of re-recording a track at Morris' request just so it could be used for the credits. But perhaps the article's most interesting revelation is the reference to an unfilmed Brass Eye sketch about a Paedo Pride March. The mind boggles.

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