My Life in Film – Simon Laurie (Class of 1973)

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

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When I was six years old, in 1961, my older sister and her friend took me to the cinema for the first time. The film being screened, in that little community centre in Newton Aycliffe, up in the north-east of England, was The Wizard of Oz. I spent most of the running time peeking out from the safety of darkness under my seat. Eventually the arrival of the flying monkeys so overwhelmed me that I had to be taken home before the film reached its ending. Cinema was so powerful!

The Graduate (1967)

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In 1969, though I was not quite legally permitted to be there, my progressive parents took me to see my first X-rated film. It was The Graduate and I loved it. Simon and Garfunkel’s soundtrack gave the film an extraordinary energy. Years later I learned that this was the first time pre-existing pop songs had been used exclusively in a dramatic film. I didn’t think about editing then, but in hindsight I now know I was watching some game-changing cutting.

Satyricon (1969)

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In 1973 I visited Cambridge, where my sister was an undergraduate. At the Arts Cinema I witnessed my first Fellini film: Satyricon. Fellini’s dreamlike imaginary world, populated by huge, grotesque, bawdy, larger than life characters, was a real eye-opener. It is an incredibly self-indulgent, undisciplined affair, but it sparked my interest in European cinema and led me to love the work of Godard, Rohmer, Truffaut, Bunuel, Wajda, Wenders and many more. Years later, in the mid-1980s, I found myself at Cinecitta Studios in Rome, cutting an American pizza commercial for Tony Scott. On one of the stages, Federico Fellini was directing Ginger and Fred, his last great movie. I watched the master in awe.

Simon Laurie Class of 1973

Simon Laurie, Class of 1973, Film Editor

Goldfinger (1964)


By the age of ten I was a regular movie-goer. In those days my family called it “going to the fillums.” Bond movies were my favourite and in 1965, at the Tatton in Gatley, I watched Sean Connery in Goldfinger. Now I could stay on my seat, lost in that colourful high-octane world and sustained by the box of Weekend chocolates that passed back and forth between my mum, my aunt and me. What fantastic villains: Auric Goldfinger kills his traitorous secretary by painting her entire body in 14 carat gold, while Oddjob his manservant kills with a well-aimed, steel-rimmed bowler hat. I was in secret-agent heaven for days afterwards, stealthily negotiating each street corner with my imaginary Walther PPK at the ready.

The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes (2005)


In 2004, I cut a feature film directed by the delightful Brothers Quay. The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes was their second feature and a slightly bigger budget (though still relatively small) meant that there was pressure to create a traditional dramatic storyline. This was not the Quay Brothers’ style and there were difficult negotiations in the cutting room while the factions fought. The final product was full of wonderful visuals, but was not one for those seeking a fast-moving plot. Nevertheless, I was very proud of my involvement in it! To reduce my favourite films down to a list of five means excluding some very much loved classics. What of Rohmer’s Green Ray or Claire Denis’s 35 Shots of Rum? Ask me again next week and there may well be a different five!