Summer 2016

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21 Q3 2016 / CINEMONTAGE Forman and his stars in his private jet to the director's native land, the Czech Republic — a free democracy since the fall of Communism in 1989. At the invitation of President Václav Havel (a playwright and the filmmaker's friend from childhood), Flynt's saga was presented to an audience of 200 at the Presidential Palace in Prague with an interpreter providing simultaneous translation off-screen. Nasatir commented, "You've got to live in a country where you have no freedoms to appreciate what it is." Three years before, while director Tim Burton was still shooting Alexander and Karaszewski's script for Ed Wood (1994), about one of cinema's cheesiest creators, the writers were drawn to another less than fully admirable real-life figure. "Just two regular Joes with wives and kids," as they said in their introduction to the published screenplay, they wanted to write about "a man most noted for his shameless vulgarity." When they pitched the project to Columbia Pictures, they also sent an outline to Oliver Stone. His flair for mixing popular culture with political controversy in movies like Born on the Fourth of July (1989), The Doors (1991) and JFK (1991) made him an obvious choice to direct. The Columbia executives told them, "It's a Capra movie with porn!" When Stone expressed interest, Janet Yang, his partner in the production company, Ixtlan, set up a development deal with the studio. Drawing from major news sources, court transcripts of Flynt's legal battles and interviews with the publisher's associates and friends, the writers spent half of 1994 writing a 215-page draft. When the script was cut down to 167 pages, Stone realized he was still too busy with Nixon (1995) to direct — but he wanted Ixtlan to produce. Its "freedom of expression" theme led him to send the script to Forman, who had grown up under both Nazi and Communist dictatorships. A leading figure in Czech cinema, he had infused such films as Loves of a Blonde (1965) and The Fireman's Ball (1967) with sly satire too subtle for ham-fisted government censors to comprehend. The director was able to leave what was then Czechoslovakia during the "Prague Spring" of 1968 to seek work in America, and did not return after Soviet troops crushed Alexander Dubček's reformist regime. Since then, Forman had made six English-language movies, two of which — One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and Amadeus (1984) — had brought him Best Picture and Best Director Oscars. When Forman received the screenplay, he saw Flynt's name in the title and threw it aside. When his manager told him Stone had sent it, he read it and found, as he said in an interview shortly before the film's premiere, "the kind of script directors dream about." He committed to the project in March 1995. Forman said, "I had experienced political regimes in which crusades against pornographers…turned into the worst censorship where freedom of the press was practically eliminated entirely. It started with homosexuals and pornographers, and Jews and blacks, and finally…your plumber is a pervert…and you are a pervert." Cutting the final script down to 140 pages, Forman said he and the writers agreed that "the hero would be the Supreme Court and everybody else would be simply human with all their pros and cons." The director, however, was determined not to glamorize pornography "because I am conditioned from my childhood to see pornography as bad and I still feel that way... I could have splashed the screen with images from Hustler that would make people scream in disgust." Such images were only suggested off-screen or not seen clearly in frames composed to draw attention to characters' reactions to them. A graphic exception was a picture of a woman's naked body being put through a meat grinder. They also went through the script thoroughly with Flynt himself. He was no longer the wild man of the 1980s who drew contempt citations and was confined THIS QUARTER IN FILM HISTORY The People vs. Larry Flynt. Columbia Pictures/ Photofest

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