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Apocalypse Archives: James Marsh

Man on Wire director picks five films he'd save if the world were ending

Apocalypse Archives: James Marsh


(Alan Clarke, 1989)
’It’s one of the best films, along with The Battle of Algiers, ever made about an armed conflict: it shows how relentless, exhausting and pointless the killings were in Northern Ireland. The director Alan Clarke is best know for his politics, but he should also be known for his technique. This is a brilliantly made film.’


(Roman Polanski, 1965)
’I saw this as a teenager on television, late at night, when I was just 14. It was such a revelation seeing a film which occupied a person’s point-of-view. It really showed you what it was like to go mad. It may not be my favourite Polanski film, but it made a huge impression on me.’

Blue Velvet

(David Lynch, 1986)
‘This showed me that cinema can take the viewer into realms of dream-like perversity. It’s so sexy and exciting and troubling, and it’s beautifully made. Like many of the great works of cinema, like Vertigo and Peeping Tom, it explores what it means to be a voyeur. I’ve now seen it dozens of times, and I’ve loved every moment.’

Gates of Heaven

(Errol Morris, 1978)
‘All human life is in this Errol Morris film, which is the story of two pet cemeteries in America. It’s about hope and disappointment, and how you live your life. It showed me as a documentary-maker, that you have to let the people you interview talk and really listen to them. I like to spend time with my interviewees beforehand, make a connection with them and earn their trust.’

Boogie Nights

(Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997)
‘For me this isn’t up there with say Bunuel or Renoir in terms of cinematic greatness, but in terms of being a film to sit down and enjoy, it’s hard to beat. Shot for shot, it has so much energy and ambition – it’s such an exuberant piece of film-making.’

James Marsh’s Shadow Dancer is on general release from Fri 24 Aug.

Alan Clarke's Elephant 1989

repulsion TRAILER

BLUE VELVET - Trailer ( 1986 )

Gates of Heaven

BOOGIE NIGHTS - Trailer (1997)

Shadow Dancer - Official Trailer

Shadow Dancer

  • 4 stars
  • 2012
  • UK, Ireland
  • 101 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: James Marsh
  • Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Aidan Gillen, Domhnall Gleeson, Bríd Brennan, David Wilmot
  • UK release: 24 August 2012

An adaptation by Tom Bradby from his own 2001 novel, this thriller deals with the calamitous fallout when a young IRA member is forced to turn informant for MI5.


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