Di­rec­tor Milos Forman dies at 86

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - METRO | STATE - BY AN­THONY MCCART­NEY AP En­ter­tain­ment Writer

LOS AN­GE­LES — Czech film­maker Milos Forman, whose Amer­i­can movies “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Amadeus” won a del­uge of Academy Awards, in­clud­ing best di­rec­tor Os­cars, died Satur­day. He was 86.

Forman died about 2 a.m. Satur­day at Dan­bury Hospi­tal, near his home in War­ren, Con­necti­cut, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment re­leased by the former di­rec­tor’s agent, Den­nis As­p­land. As­p­land said Forman’s wife, Martina, no­ti­fied him of the death.

When Forman ar­rived in Hol­ly­wood in the late 1960s, he was lack­ing in both money and English skills, but car­ried a port­fo­lio of Cze­choslo­vakian films much ad­mired in­ter­na­tion­ally for their quirky, light­hearted spirit. Among them were “Black Peter,” ‘’Loves of a Blonde” and “The Fire­man’s Ball.”

The or­phan of Nazi Holo­caust vic­tims, Forman had aban­doned his home­land af­ter com­mu­nist troops in­vaded in 1968 and crushed a brief pe­riod of po­lit­i­cal and artis­tic free­dom known as the Prague Spring.

In Amer­ica, his record as a Czech film­maker was enough to gain him en­tree to Hol­ly­wood’s stu­dios, but his early sug­ges­tions for film projects were quickly re­jected. Among them were an adap­ta­tion of Franz Kafka’s novel “Amerika” and a com­edy star­ring en­ter­tainer Jimmy Du­rante as a wealthy bear hunter in Cze­choslo­vakia.

Af­ter his first U.S. film, 1971’s “Tak­ing Off,” flopped, Forman didn’t get a chance to di­rect a ma­jor fea­ture again for years. He oc­cu­pied him­self dur­ing part of that time by cov­er­ing the de­cathlon at the 1972 Olympics for the doc­u­men­tary “Vi­sions of Eight.”

“Tak­ing Off,” an amus­ing look at gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences in a chang­ing Amer­ica, had won praise from crit­ics who com­pared it fa­vor­ably to Forman’s Czech films. But without any big-name stars it quickly tanked at the box of­fice.

Ac­tor Michael Dou­glas gave Forman a sec­ond chance, hir­ing him to di­rect “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” which Dou­glas was co­pro­duc­ing.

The 1975 film, based on Ken Ke­sey’s novel about a mis­fit who leads men­tal in­sti­tu­tion in­mates in a re­volt against author­ity, cap­tured ev­ery ma­jor Os­car at that year’s Academy Awards, the first film to do so since 1934’s “It Hap­pened One Night.”

The win­ners in­cluded Jack Ni­chol­son as lead ac­tor, Louise Fletcher as lead ac­tress, screen­writ­ers Bo Gold­man and Lawrence Hauben, Forman as di­rec­tor and the film it­self for best pic­ture.

The di­rec­tor, who worked metic­u­lously, spend­ing months with screen­writ­ers and over­see­ing ev­ery as­pect of pro­duc­tion, didn’t re­lease another film un­til 1979’s “Hair.”

The mu­si­cal, about re­bel­lious 1960s-era Amer­i­can youth, ap­pealed to a di­rec­tor who had wit­nessed his own share of youth­ful re­bel­lion against com­mu­nist re­pres­sion in Cze­choslo­vakia. But by the time it came out, Amer­ica’s brief pe­riod of stu­dent re­volt had long since faded, and the pub­lic wasn’t in­ter­ested.

Milos Forman

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.