Last night I saw ‘An Education’ for the first time…

posted by Nick Hornby July 23, 2008 at 2:57 pm Films ,

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It’s not finished, and one of the interesting things for  a writer – for anyone interested in film who doesn’t work in the industry, maybe – is just how unfinished  a film can be, post-production, how many choices are still open to the film-makers. It’s not so different from writing a novel: given endless time (which film-makers, especially on a low-budget production, seldom have), one could draft and redraft. You can make a film longer or shorter, obviously, but you can also make it funnier or sadder, more (or less) dramatic, you can change the tenor of an actor’s performance by judicious choice of takes and shots.  The range of choices still open to us is bewildering, although everyone seems to agree on what still needs to be done, fortunately. We’re probably halfway through this finessing process, and there’s no music yet, but the film-makers felt sufficiently confident in what they have to invite a ‘virgin’ audience yesterday, people literally recruited from the street who had no idea what they were coming to see.

It felt to me as though it went well – people laughed in the right places, and the friend I went with cried in the right places, too. (Other members of the audience may have cried too, of course, but crying tends to be a quieter activity in the cinema. If you can actually hear people bawling like babies, your film is probably too sad for general consumption.) And I enjoyed it, much more than I thought I would, given one’s natural distaste for one’s own work.  It looks great, and the performances are fantastic.  But four years’ work went by in a flash, or in an hour and forty-five minutes, anyway. Part of me felt as though the audience should experience the same kind of slog as we endured. And though I wouldn’t want people to sit through, say, a four-year long film, it wouldn’t kill them if it lasted twelve hours or so, would it?  Here are two stills from the film, pictures of the extraordinary  .