Julian Jarrold talks about Red Riding 1974

RED RIDING trilogy is based on factual events and adapted for the screen by Tony Grisoni (FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS) from David Peace’s series of novels. The trilogy follows several characters in intertwining storylines united by the horror wrought by the “Yorkshire Ripper,” a serial killer who terrorized northwest England in the 1970s and ’80s.

RED RIDING – 1974 (Directed by Julian Jarrold) centers on a rookie journalist, Eddie Dunford (Andrew Garfield), whose investigation of a series of child abductions and murders leads him to suspect that there’s a terrifying connection between the perpetrators and the upper echelons of Yorkshire power.

Julian Jarrold has worked in the Film and TV industry for the past 13 years. Julian has directed some of the most successful and prominent British television drama series and mini-series’ to date. Including Cracker (The Big Crunch), Emmy-nominated miniseries Great Expectations starring Ioan Gruffudd and Charlotte Rampling, Crime and Punishment, Brideshead Revisited starring Ben Wishaw and Emma Thompson, and Channel 4’s ravely received adaptation of the Zadie Smith bestselling novel, White Teeth, starring Om Puri and Phil Davis.

Bijan Tehrani: Were you aware of David Peace’s work, and specifically the Red Riding novels, before you started work?
Julian Jarrold : Like most people, I was only dimly aware of David Peace’s Red Riding quartet, but when I read them, I was blown away by their power, drive and frenetic visceral quality. His characters and stories are inspired by real events; “fictions torn from facts that illuminate the truth” as he puts it. This fictionalised truth with its relentless pace and its depiction of the brutal nihilistic world of Yorkshire in the 70s makes a potent brew.

BT: Why did you want to get involved in the project?
JJ: It was the quality of Tony Grisoni’s script that brought me to the project. He caught all the dark and disquieting qualities of the novel and had developed the characters and relationships so well. He also found a wit and poignancy amongst the darkness and conflict. Tony wasn’t afraid to reflect the reality of Yorkshire in the 70s and I was fascinated by the peculiar atmosphere of place; its “psychogeography”, where events unfold in such a dark and brutal fashion.

BT: Did you have lengthy discussions with Tony Grisoni?
JJ: One of the pleasures of film making is working with the writer on the script (assuming one gets on, and we did!), dreaming about all the possible things we could do before schedules and budgetary restrictions set in. It also enables me to fix more clearly on the characters, clarify and develop the shooting style. I was constantly impressed by the way he wanted to push the possibilities of the crime genre, which made the whole project so exciting.

BT: What communication did you have with the other two directors?
JJ: 1974 is the first of the three films and the brief was that they would each be self-contained and work on their own terms. The aspiration was that the whole would be greater than the sum of the parts. This probably encouraged a healthy bit of competition. Like the novels, each film offers a different perspective on characters and events over different periods. My view was that 1974 should tell the story of Eddie Dunford but leave open some questions that are confronted in the following films: 1980 and 1983. For all of us, this meant some negotiation over casting. Amazingly there were no violent disagreements (a tribute to the producers who worked tirelessly to oil the wheels of the complex decision making).

BT: Were the actors very excited and motivated by the unusual process of shooting three films with three different directors (virtually) at the same time?
JJ: For the actors it was an interesting and stimulating journey – especially for those who span all three films. David Morrissey as Jobson is an ambiguous background figure in 1974 but his story comes to the fore and provides the resolution in 1983.

Andrew Garfield is the lead in 1974 and as a cocky, arrogant, naïve character he has the difficult task of taking the viewer on a journey through this hostile world. It’s a testament to his ability and commitment that he achieves this truthfully both in his emotional scenes with Paula (Rebecca Hall), or in suffering the physicality of the torture scenes. Rebecca brilliantly portrays the conflicted nature and sexualised qualities of a woman in thrall to the power of John Dawson (Sean Bean). Sean effortlessly inhabits the character of Dawson whose black wit and sexual charm dominate the film. All three films were shooting at almost the same time and there was a great collegiate atmosphere amongst all the actors who really committed to the project however small their part.

BT: What format did you shoot in? What was behind this specific decision? What was the tone you were looking to set for your film?
JJ: We shot 1974 on Super16 film which seemed appropriate for the period and setting. I wanted a grainy, filmic quality where we could place the characters in an environment which seems to dominate and imprison them. Director of Photography, Rob Hardy, with production designer Christine Casselli, helped me capture the exact atmosphere for this first film of “Yorkshire noir”.


About Author

Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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