michael_gothard_archive: (wild)
Title: Herostratus
Medium: Film
Genre: Experimental drama
Filmed: 1964
Location: London
First shown: June 1967
Character: Max, a young poet
Role: Starring role. Max sells the chance to film his suicide to an advertising executive.
Character’s fate (highlight to read): Max survives, traumatised by having accidentally caused someone else’s death.
Link to entries on this archive

Title: The Machine Stops
Medium: TV: part of the BBC series – Out of the Unknown
Genre: Science fiction
Filmed: 1966
Location: UK
First shown: 6 October 1966
Character: Kuno, a young man living in a future society, underground.
Role: Starring role. Kuno, tries to escape the tyranny of the Machine by going out unprotected onto the surface of the Earth.
Character’s fate (highlight to read): Kuno dies, along with his mother Vashti, and their whole underground civilisation, when the Machine breaks down, because no one knows how to repair it.
Link to entries on this archive

Title: The Excavation
Medium: Television: part of the BBC series – Thirty Minute Theatre
Genres: Crime, psychological drama
Filmed: 1966
Location: UK, but set in the USA
First shown: 31 October 1966
Character: Grady, an ex-convict
Role: Starring role. Grady and his partner have perjured themselves at a murder trial; they are questioned by a wealthy civil rights lawyer, trying to get the truth.
Character’s fate (highlight to read): Grady is thought to have died: how he died is not known. 1
Link to entry on this archive

Title: The Further Adventures of the Musketeers
Medium: TV serial, in 16 parts
Genres: Historical drama, swashbuckler
Filmed: 1966/7
Location: UK, but set in France
First shown: May – September 1967
Character: Mordaunt, formerly John Francis de Winter
Role: Mordaunt is the son of Milady de Winter: an enemy of the Musketeers, who was executed many years before. He appears in 10 episodes.
Character’s fate (highlight to read): Mordaunt was stabbed and drowned by the Musketeers.
Link to entries on this archive

Title: Up the Junction
Medium: Film
Genres: Drama, slice of life
Filmed: 1967
Location: London
First shown: 13 March 1968
Character: Terry: a young Londoner
Role: Terry is a friend of the hero. He is upset when his girlfriend Rube has an abortion, but nevertheless gets engaged to her.
Character’s fate (highlight to read): Terry is killed, when his motorbike hits a lorry.
Link to entries on this archive
Read more... )
michael_gothard_archive: (wild)
In October 2015, a new Blu-ray edition of “Scream and Scream Again”, including a commentary by film director Tim Sullivan, and film historian David Del Valle, was released.

Unfortunately, this commentary has little new to offer about Michael Gothard, who played the vampire composite, Keith, but the relevant parts are transcribed below.



Tim Sullivan: The film defies expectations – a pool of interesting things.

David Del Valle: Fritz Lang1 admired it – it’s very avant garde, and maybe we can re-assess it as an avant garde movie …

TS: … part of a new British cinema –

DDV: … more nudity, more violence, a culture that was more youth-oriented …

TS: Some of the look of it is a little clockwork-orangey.

DDV: … this is considered Gordon Hessler’s masterpiece … It was very common at AIP2 not to have any control over the actors … they really weren’t chosen by Gordon … of course, Michael Gothard … is also a focal point, and very charismatic, interesting figure … He’s got a Mick Jagger – Klaus Kinski thing going on, he’s very charismatic. He actually did an ad lib in this, where he says, “Not tonight, Lady”, and the girl who looks at him says, “Lovely mover!” I mean, he obviously … could be a ladies’ man, if he weren’t a monster!

TS: It’s interesting, because Louis Heyward was quite enamoured of Michael Gothard; he says he felt that Michael Gothard was going to be the biggest thing that ever happened at the time of this. He had an intense look, and drive, and he really threw himself into this. They offered him to use a stuntman – stunt double – for that scene where he’s climbing up the rocks … and he refused …

It sounds as if most of this information was gleaned from an interview with the film’s Executive Producer, Louis M. Heyward, published in 1991, in which Heyward says:
"I felt that Michael Gothard was going to be the biggest thing that ever happened. He had that insane look and that drive, and he was wonderful. Here is a kid who really threw himself into the picture wholeheartedly. Do you remember the scene where he appears to be walking up the cliff? That's a stunt that, as an actor, I would not have agreed to; I'd say, 'Hey, get a double or get a dummy. I ain't either one.' But the kid agreed to do it, without a double--he was that driven. He had a lot of class and a lot of style. Gordon came up with the idea of using an overhead cable to give that illusion of his walking up the cliff."



DDV: “The Devils” was his masterpiece …

TS: You know, Michael Gothard was at the beginning of a very illustrious career, and James Bond fans out there will remember this guy as the villain in “For Your Eyes Only”, where he played Emile Locque, and it’s amazing how many Bond actors got starts in Hammer.

DDV: This composite that’s killing these women looks like a popstar – that is put there strictly to make it more commercial …

TS: He’s very much like the Robert Patrick character, the T25 … I know that … this film had an impression on the guy who grew up to be James Cameron6 … And again, as stated earlier, Michael Gothard – he did all this himself, he didn’t want any stuntmen, I mean this was a real rock quarry, and Gordon shot this by putting a camera on a cable to make it look like – I mean, look at that, he’s just going right up like, superhuman, I mean, that’s insane, and the way that was done is by having the camera on a cable across the quarry on an angle that made it look like he was walking straight up, and it’s really effective.

DDV: “Scream and Scream Again” has achieved a cult status … I mean, it was well-received …

TS: This is one of the infamous iconic images from this movie … the severed hand, attached to the handcuff, attached to the bumper … a still in “Famous Monsters”7 that you never forget … also, tragically, Michael Gothard hung himself, which is interesting.

DDV: Well, he was very despondent about a number of things, plus, I think he had some issues with drugs.

TS: Yes, he did –

That a man who killed himself had, at some point, been “very despondent” is hardly a searing insight; the coy qualifier, “about a number of things” is pure filler, which seems to imply that Mr Del Valle was well acquainted with the man, and knows more than he is prepared to say, while supplying no evidence of any such thing.

The reference to “issues with drugs” is vague, but seems to imply addiction. This claim is unsubstantiated; during extensive research and interviews, the creators of this archive have heard no evidence that Michael Gothard had any such problem.



TS: … but it’s interesting, because his very first film in 1967 was called “Herostratus”, and the character he played was a young man obsessed with suicide and …

TS and DDV, in unison: Well, there you are.

This final complacent pronouncement in relation to Michael’s role in “Herostratus” may tell us more about Mssrs. Sullivan and Del Valle than about Michael himself. They sound more like housewives gossiping over the garden gate than serious film critics, who should know better than to conflate an actor with a role he played, nearly three decades earlier.

1 Expressionist filmmaker.
2 American International Pictures.
3 The executive producer of “Scream and Scream Again.”
4 The interview was published in “Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Producers, and Writers of the 1940s through 1960s” (Weaver, Tom, Brunas Michael and Brunas, John).
5 “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”, in which Robert Patrick played an almost unstoppable robot, the T-1000.
6 The writer of “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.”
7 This probably refers to the genre magazine, “Famous Monsters of Filmland.”
michael_gothard_archive: (wild)
"The Machine Stops" appeared on a BFI DVD release featuring all extant episodes of "Out of the Unknown."

This was reviewed by Gary Couzens on "The Digital Fix."

"The season began with what is possibly the most celebrated of all Out of the Unknown episodes, and the one from the most prestigious – and oldest - source. Uniquely (among the surviving episodes at least) its lead actor, Yvonne Mitchell, gets a "starring" credit at the start. Edward Morgan Forster (1879-1970) was a distinguished writer of the first quarter of the twentieth century … best known as a novelist … However, he also wrote short fiction, some of them verging on fantasy, and the novella "The Machine Stops" (first published in 1909) being definitely science fiction. It was written as a reaction to what Forster saw as H.G. Wells's undue optimism about technological progress. We're in a world where humanity lives underground, the Earth's surface being apparently no longer habitable. The Machine, what would now be called a supercomputer, rules everyone's lives. However, rebellion is afoot … Forster thought the production "magnificent" and wrote to the writers to tell them so. Philip Saville's direction and Norman James's design are also excellent."

Full review

michael_gothard_archive: (Default)
Please add anything you know, links to reviews, photos or personal memories in a comment, and let me know whether and how you wish to be credited.

Many thanks.
michael_gothard_archive: (Default)
We had been looking forward to planting the tree for Michael ever since last year, when we had joined Oliver Tobias in dedicating the Wellingtonia to him.

The account of that event is here.

On this November day, it started out grey, but turned into a lovely sunny day by the time we arrived, and the park was beautiful, still in its autumn colours.

Woodchester 18 November 2011
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Woodchester 18 November 2011
michael_gothard_archive: (Default)
This is an account of the visit to Woodchester National Trust Park, where the early episodes of “Arthur of the Britons” were filmed in Summer 1972.

The event was organised by a fan of Oliver Tobias, Wendy Van Der Veen and this visit took place on Sunday 29 August. It was attended by Oliver Tobias, his brother Benedict Freitag, and a small group of fans of “Arthur of the Britons.”

We wanted to see where Arthur’s village had been sited, and to dedicate a tree to the late Michael Gothard, who starred as Kai in the series, alongside Oliver.
Read more... )
michael_gothard_archive: (wild)
The extracts below are from a review of 'Herostratus' by Stuart Heaney, published in 'Sight and Sound' magazine, volume 19, issue 9, in September 2009.

"… This is the 1960s as you’ve never seen them before – the myths demystified before they were even crystallised. Its themes mirror in disturbing fashion the subsequent troubled lives of its principle cast and crew, not least Levy himself.

… The Nuffield films served as Levy’s film-making apprenticeship, enabling him to appropriate the documentary form for poetic ends. The same formal tension between the objective world of historical and institutional forces, and eruptions of the personal subconscious, lies at the heart of Herostratus, which recycles fragments of newsreel footage and juxtaposes them with dramatic scenes and fractured hallucinatory images. The effect of interfacing these different strands is to map the subconscious forces that formed Max’s psyche … Max’s only solution to the problem of finding meaning in his life is to sacrifice his physical form for a transcendent, infinitely reproducible electronic image.

… Levy’s intent was to induce a transformation in the film’s audience via a heightened emotional reality. In his notes accompanying the film, Levy cryptically referred to “a special form of improvisation … exploiting the subconscious”, but although he did not reveal the specific technique he used to direct the actors, it was clearly psychotherapeutic in intent. The performances were all improvised on scenarios and suggestions provided by the director-therapist, sometimes with disturbing results. Levy referred to “peculiar events” that occurred “both during and outside filming”; occasionally crew members refused to work owing to the intensity of the experiences being filmed.

… Levy wanted to deprogramme his actors, the better to reveal to the audience the programming within themselves through witnessing the actors’ experiences … The crucial moment that foregrounds this strategy occurs in the closing scene of the film, evidence that Levy may have been using some form of primal scream therapy, inducing trauma in the actors … Convinced they have provoled Max into committing suicide, Clio becomes hysterical. As she leans against a blank wall she wails, “I can’t get out!” Levy’s strident voice can be heard offscreen, replying, “YOU CAN GET OUT!” The whimpering of Clio-Gabriella is the last thing we hear as the image cuts to black."

For all the critical accolades heaped on Don Levy for 'Herostratus', it is perhaps fortunate that he did not make more films, and trap yet more vulnerable young actors in his amateur psychology laboratory.
michael_gothard_archive: (wild)
The BFI brought out three films in which Michael Gothard had major roles, “Herostratus”, “The Devils” and “La Valleé.” The booklets that accompany “Herostratus” (released 24/08/2009) and “La Valleé” (released 08/06/2009) include sections about him, which - apart from some material in the “La Valleé” booklet which specifically relates to his role in that film - are basically the same.

These notes show a disappointing reliance on online sources, one of whom – Curtis Harrington – actively disliked Michael Gothard. A quotation from Harrington is even used to provide the title: “An interesting type.”

At best, this phrase, culled from a highly personal attack that Harrington launched on Gothard some years after his death, damns a very talented and unique actor – not a ‘type’ – with faint praise, and tends to discourage the reader from looking more closely at his work.

It is tempting to think that the reason this quotation was used, was that it was easy to find. It’s true that there was not much information about Michael Gothard available at the time the booklet on “Herostratus” was written, but a little research in a library reveals that John Glen, the Director of “For Your Eyes Only”, described him as “a captivating actor”1, and that Louis M. Heyward, the Executive Producer of “Scream and Scream Again” said: "I felt that Michael Gothard was going to be the biggest thing that ever happened. He had that insane look and that drive, and he was wonderful … He had a lot of class and a lot of style.”2

Either of these quotations could have more aptly supplied a title for Michael Gothard's mini-biography. Instead, Harrington’s quotation sets the tone for an article which is not only negative, but misleading.

Firstly, the statement that, “Michael Gothard’s choice of television and film roles illustrated the dark side of the 1960s and 70s” warrants scrutiny. The word “choice” assumes that at the start of his career, Michael had the pick of television and film roles - which seems unlikely – rather than having to take what was offered.

Secondly, even if he did, indeed, choose the roles he took on between 1967 and 1979, from among many, it cannot be said that all or even most of them illustrated the "darker side" of those times. An argument could be made for his roles in “Herostratus”, “Up the Junction”, “More”, “The Storyteller”, “The Excavation”, “La Vallée”, “Nine Bean Rows”, “Games People Play”, “Run for Your Money”, and “Stopover”, but even some of those are debatable, and not all of them are extant.

As for the rest: “The Machine Stops” is set in the future; “The Further Adventures of the Musketeers”, “Michael Kohlhaas”, “The Last Valley”, “The Devils”, “Arthur of the Britons”, “The Three and Four Musketeers”, and “Warrior Queen” are all set in the past. “Les Fleurs du Mal” is an escapist spy/crime drama, “Scream and Scream Again”, a horror/science fiction, “When the Spirit Moves You”, a supernatural comedy, “Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?” a thriller, and “Warlords of Atlantis” a fantasy adventure. It is hard to see how his role in any of these could illustrate the darker side of the 1960s and 70s.

The notes go on to describe Michael as having a “deep, hard voice.” In his work that post-dates “Up the Junction”, his voice was deep, but “hard” is not how most people would describe it. David Wickes, who directed him in “Jack the Ripper” and “Frankenstein”, spoke of “his soft, husky voice” which “was electrifying … he knew how to use it to maximum effect.”

The notes go further into the realms of fantasy when they state that Gothard was “usually cast in historical actioners, European arthouse or mind-bending genre movies, more often than not torn apart or committing the ‘elemental crime’ of suicide.”

It’s true that he was often cast in historical pieces: a total of twelve productions. Under the heading “European Arthouse” there seem to be only three films, “Herostratus”, “La Valleé”, and a non-speaking appearance in “More.” Mind-bending genre movies? Again, perhaps “Herostratus” is one of those, along with “Scream and Scream Again”, and “Lifeforce.”

However, this only constitutes seventeen productions: less than half of Michael Gothard’s forty-two roles. This doesn’t fulfill the description, “usually cast.”

But it is the final assertion in the sentence – that his characters are “more often than not torn apart or committing the ‘elemental crime’ of suicide’” – which is the most damaging, and the most lacking in substance. It is complete fabrication.

Even if one assumes that by “torn apart”, the writer means “conflicted”, rather than literally “torn apart” (which never happens), this statement has no basis in fact. Most of Michael’s characters show no sign of being conflicted, and certainly not to the extent of being “torn apart.” Many of them – Kuno, Mordaunt, John, Weber, Hansen, Father Barré, Albie, Volthan, Gaspard, Locque, Terry Marvin, Karl Portillo, Strett, Stefan, Xaros – are unusually single-minded.

Of his 42 known film and TV roles, only six of them, Max (“Herostratus”), Ivan (“Games People Play”), Olivier (“La Valleé”), Kai (“Arthur of the Britons”), Felton (The “Musketeers” films) Athelstane (“Ivanhoe”) and Sergei (“From Fulham With Love”) suffer significant internal conflict. Only in Max and Olivier is it a basic character trait, rather than something arising from circumstances, and Olivier’s conflict is not a bad thing, but the result of intellectual curiosity, and a refreshing capacity to step back from his sociological context.

As for the ‘elemental crime’ of suicide’: in “Herostratus”, Michael’s character, Max, intends to commit suicide, but changes his mind, then accidentally kills someone else. In “Scream and Scream Again”, as the artificially-created vampire, Keith, he jumps into a bath of acid to avoid capture, presumably because he has been programmed to do so, rather than from an actual desire to kill himself.

There is no other instance in his entire known canon of film and TV work, of a character Michael Gothard played, committing suicide.

Even if, being charitable, we count all six of the conflicted characters, and add in Keith the vampire as a suicide, this makes a total of seven roles out of forty-two: one sixth does not constitute “more often than not.”

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the writer made these claims in a misguided attempt to make things seem neat and tidy - by telling the rather tired story of an actor and his roles becoming one and the same thing - rather than making the effort to find out the truth.

Another less important inaccuracy, is the claim that Michael Gothard appeared in “Vampyre.” He did not. It was intended that he should appear, but the project fell through, and was eventually resurrected without him.

Towards the end of the article, the writer describes Michael Gothard “momentarily acting opposite Marlon Brando” as if that were his finest hour, when it was more like Brando’s worst. In fact, Gothard was brought in as a possible replacement for Brando, whom John Glen thought unreliable, and in the end, Brando got terrible notices for the film.

Finally, the article says of Michael Gothard: “Overpowered by depression, he hanged himself at home in Hampstead, aged 53 and alone.”

We know that Michael Gothard had suffered from depression for most of his life, on and off, but his suicide was unexpected. Some friends suspect that prescription medication may have precipitated his suicide, but the truth of what was going on in his mind will probably never be known, so to claim, as fact, that he was “overpowered by depression” is pure speculation.

Naturally he was “alone” at the time when he killed himself – few people take their own lives in company. But the tacit implication of “aged 53 and alone” is that he was “alone” in his life, and this is completely wrong.

A lifelong musician, he often met up with fellow musicians for jamming sessions. He dated many beautiful women, and was an avid letter-writer, keeping in touch with old friends and girlfriends. While he seems – as far as the creators of this archive have been able to discover – to have had no contact with his father, and little with his mother, he did have close friends whom he regarded as family.

The writer of the notes in the BFI booklet could not have known all this at the time they wrote the article, so - presumably because Michael Gothard’s social life was not plastered all over the tabloids every day - they have made the mistake of interpreting his whole life in the light of his final act, and suggesting that he was living a solitary and miserable existence. This is both misleading, and insulting to him and to his friends. It would have been better to be honest, and simply say, “Little is known of his private life”, but that wouldn’t have fitted in with story the writer wanted to tell.

~~

1 "For My Eyes Only: My Life with James Bond”, by John Glen. (2001)
2 Interview with Louis M. Heyward by Gary A. Smith, in “Uneasy Dreams: The Golden Age of British Horror Films, 1956-1976.” (2006)
michael_gothard_archive: (Default)
A fan of Michael's, Belsizepark, had sent a card to M.T. at Shirlock Road to request a meet-up. As there was no response, she decided to leave a message at the house. It was 1st or 2nd July 1999, the weekend after what would have been Michael's 60th birthday.

“The door was open, and I saw a woman … a 'Phoebe Cates' type. When I entered the house I asked her if she was M.T., and then introduced myself.
Read more... )
michael_gothard_archive: (wild)
This obituary by Harris Lentz appeared in the February edition (no. 224) of Classic Images - more than a year after Michael Gothard's death. Mr Lentz appears to have been under the impression that Michael was fifty years old, when in fact he was 53.

Michael Gothard, 50 – February 2, 1993

British character actor Michael Gothard committed suicide by hanging at his Home in England. He began his film career in British films in the 1960s, appearing in ‘Herostratus’ (1968) and ‘Up the Junction’ (1968). He played a series of eccentric characters in British horror films during the 1970s including ‘Scream and Scream Again’ (1970), Ken Russell’s ‘The Devils’ (1971), ‘Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?’ (1971) and ‘Warlords of Atlantis’ (1978).

He was also featured in the 1974 version of ‘The Three Musketeers,’ and the 1981 James Bond film, ‘For Your Eyes Only.’ Gothard’s other credits include 1985’s ‘Lifeforce,’ and [he] appeared in the telefilms ‘Jack the Ripper’ (1988), ‘Out of Time’ (1989) and 1993’s ‘Frankenstein,’ with Randy Quaid and Patrick Bergen.

He was also seen regularly on British television in episodes of such series as ‘Out of the Unknown’; ‘Department S’; ‘My Partner the Ghost’; ‘Arthur of the Britons’ and ‘Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense.’
michael_gothard_archive: (Michael Gothard circa 1991)
Houston Chronicle: “Nobody’s ever done a Frankenstein like this one and nobody’s ever done a better one.”

Wall Street Journal: “None of the previous Frankenstein films was as frightening as this.”

Rick Kogan in the Chicago Tribune, 11 June 1993

Monstrous Dignity
Tnt's Adaptation Of `Frankenstein' Is One Of The Best

… the latest version of "Frankenstein" is … certainly one of the best screen translations of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel …

The story is told in flashback from the point at which Frankenstein has tracked his creation across 1,000 miles of frozen wilderness and is taken aboard an ice-locked boat.

The incredulous sea captain listens as the doctor spins his tale of the monster's escape from the laboratory and how, after the two became separated, each has an idyllic summer, Frankenstein in the sumptuous country house of his betrothed, the monster at the cottage of a kindly old blind man (John Mills) who teaches him the joys of nature and wood-chopping, as well as a few words.

Danger intrudes, forcing the creature deeper into the forest and eventually back into Frankenstein's world …

Directed, written and produced by David Wickes, who sharpened his sense for horror by directing ABC's "Jekyll & Hyde" and CBS' "Jack the Ripper," this "Frankenstein" holds fairly firmly to Shelley's original, thus giving us much who-gets-to-play-God? meat upon which to chew ...

Full review

Cavett Binion, All Movie Guide

Filmed in Eastern Europe, this direct-to-cable adaptation of Mary Shelley's iconographic monster tale features Patrick Bergin as Victor Frankenstein, a medical genius obsessed with the secret of creating life, who uses a bizarre cloning apparatus to grow a complete human being (Randy Quaid) from his own cellular material …

… production values are admirably high and performances are superb throughout …

Full review

dtucker86

There have been so many versions of this story made that it would almost seem superflous to make another, yet this is the best version that I have seen because it is the most faithful to Mary Shelly's book. I saw the classic 1931 version where Karloff was the monster and he would have been proud of Quaid's performance …

He does a remarkable job of making the monster both scary and pitiful as society treats him so badly.

This is a great film and with the exception of Karloff's version, it is the best Frankenstein that I have ever seen.

elsbed-1

I really enjoyed this movie, far, far more than the over the top Kenneth Branagh version. Randy Quaid is fabulous as the monster. I particularly loved the monster in this film, as he was very sweet and childlike until he had negative experiences with humans. His expressions were very poignant and heartfelt. Also, the concept of Frankenstein feeling his monster's pain was original and interesting. Definitely impressive for a made-for-tv movie!

Jonathon Dabell

Forgotten version of the Mary Shelley novel - it doesn't deserve to have fallen into obscurity (but it has).

Director David Wickes was responsible for the horrible David Essex vanity project Silver Dream Racer. With this in mind, you could be forgiven for expecting this 1992 made-for-TV update of the oft-filmed Frankenstein story to be a somewhat trite affair. Surprisingly, this is a pretty good version of the tale. Indeed, it is actually better than the high profile Kenneth Branagh version that was released around 18 months later …

Wickes is extremely faithful to his source novel, more so than virtually all film-makers who have gone before him. He cuts out occasional bits of Mary Shelley's narrative, and makes the odd change here and there, but on the whole this is as close to Shelley's story as a film version has ever been.

Bergin is a revelation as Dr. Frankenstein. Usually a solid but unspectacular character actor, here he gives one of his best-ever performances as the ambitious scientist. On paper, Quaid sounds a terrible choice for the part of the monster … but in actual fact he is superb as the monster, registering anguish and pity from beneath layers of heavy make-up. At two hours, the film is paced well and moves briskly without sacrificing character or plot development …

It seems surprising that this film has faded into obscurity, for it is very well-made and admirably faithful to its source book. If you are fortunate enough to find, it is well worth viewing.

More IMDB reviews
michael_gothard_archive: (Default)
This obituary was published on 18 February, 1993, on page 29 of 'The Stage and Television Today.'

"Michael Gothard, who died aged 53 on December 2, was an actor of great strength and individuality.

He played many major roles, but will be best remembered for many television and film appearances.

On television, he played second lead in Arthur of the Britons and Jack the Ripper. In film he was the Prosecutor in Ken Russell’s The Devils and the villain in For Your Eyes Only.

He had recently finished working in Frankenstein for director David Wickes."
michael_gothard_archive: (Michael Gothard circa 1991)
This obituary was published on 8 January, 1993, on page 40 of 'Screen International.'

"Michael Gothard, who died aged 53 on December 2, was an actor of great strength and individuality.

He will probably be best remembered in the TV series Arthur of the Britons and David Wickes' Jack the Ripper; and in films as the prosecutor in Ken Russell’s The Devils and the villain in For Your Eyes Only."
michael_gothard_archive: (Default)
Ice (3) Ice (18)

A party of seamen from a ship trapped in the Arctic ice witnesses a furious chase – two men on sleds drawn by
teams of huskies, the one in pursuit of the other. They wonder how the men got here, because the nearest
town, Arkangel, is 1000 miles away.

Ice (5) Ice (8)

Apparently both man are intent on killing each other. The one being pursued loses control of his sled, and the
Captain (Roger Bizley) orders his crew to fire on the pursuer.

Ice (10) Ice (11)

The Bosun (Michael Gothard) and the others scare him off, then go to see whether his intended victim is still alive.
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Ice breaks (43) Ice breaks (45)

The Bosun’s last words to his crew - and Michael Gothard's last words on film - are, “Come on, Lads! Look
lively! We’re going home!”
michael_gothard_archive: (Michael Gothard circa 1991)
Described in the Chicago Tribune as "A classic the whole family can watch: big entertainment, big production values, a lot of interesting moral story lines to deal with,” this version of ‘Frankenstein’ was based more closely on the original version of Mary Shelley’s classic horror story than previous efforts, and was said to have had a budget of about $4.5 million – high for a typical network movie at time.

Michael Gothard was cast as the Bosun of a ship trapped in Arctic ice. He and the rest of the crew are out walking on the ice, presumably hunting for food, when they see two combatants on sleds, chasing each other across the frozen waste.

Dr Victor Frankenstein is thrown from his sled and taken on board, where he tells the tale of how he created the monster which now pursues him, to the ship’s Captain.

Michael’s character, the Bosun, is the Captain’s right hand man, on whom the Captain relies for information, and to keep his motley crew in line.

Astonishingly, the scenes of ice and snow in which Michael features were filmed at Pinewood Studios.

Near the end of the Pinewood shoot, Patrick Bergin, who played Dr Frankenstein, sustained a broken arm when falling from a sled, and filming of his last scenes was delayed.

Director, David Wickes, had made use of Michael Gothard’s talents before, on 'Jack the Ripper.’

In correspondence, David Wickes says:

"Frankenstein was largely shot in Poland. It was the first mainstream movie to be shot there after the Iron Curtain came down . . . a wild place in those days. Ted Turner must have thought I was bonkers.

Anyway, before I cast each actor, I warned them about the problems — bad roads, worse food, you name it. (Ask Stephen Spielberg who followed us in with Schindler’s List !)

Most of the actors and crew just gulped and blinked — but Michael was different. He listened to all my warnings, then he smiled his famous smile and said 'Great ! Can’t wait !'

... Michael had a screen presence unlike that of any other actor with whom I have worked. He could frighten an audience with a glance. His soft, husky voice was electrifying and he knew how to use it to maximum effect.

Each time I welcomed Michael to the set, I knew that we were about to get something special in the can. There are very few actors in that category."

The stunt arranger on ‘Frankenstein’, Peter Brayham, would also have been well known to Michael, from ‘Arthur of the Britons’, ‘Stopover’, and 'Jack the Ripper.’

‘Frankenstein’ received good reviews, but was not released in the UK until 29 December 1992 – nearly a month after Michael’s death.
When released in the US in June 1993, it gained the highest ever audience ratings for TNT in the USA (72% cable audience share) and received 3 ACE nominations and 1 ACE Award.

More details on ‘Frankenstein’ from David Wickes Productions

Frankenstein is now available on DVD from WB Shop

IMDB entry
michael_gothard_archive: (circa 1982)
Former girlfriend N.B.

"I knew he had bouts of depression even during the time we were together. He saw a therapist but not very regularly, but his illness got worse after we had split up.

I don’t know what medication he took, but I am absolutely sure that his suicide was an accident: a moment of weakness and total despair. Had he been able to overcome that moment, he would live to this day! He never said that he would kill himself."


Former girlfriend, M.T.

Per. Belsizepark, who met M.T. in 1999:
She [last] saw him five days prior his death. A friend found him in the morning, and his face looked relaxed. He used a rope.

Patients were shocked about his death; he helped so many.

He had a beautiful funeral service with jazz music; it was held at Golders Green Crematorium. M.T. arranged everything of the funeral and his estate. Jazz was played at his memorial service, which was held at Golders Green Crematorium.


Friend, Sean McCormick

"The first and biggest one of course would have to be, was he a victim of fluoxetine?

I've lost seven people of importance in my life to suicide; three of the deaths were directly linked to fluoxetine.

Michael's was the first one.

I'm not closed mouth on my feelings regarding fluoxetine, and the supposed professional pushers that hand the shit out like candy (it's very sad) without taking the time to figure out whether it's right for the person or not. And unfortunately, when they figure it out, it's too late.

It is my understanding that it had been prescribed to him, and he'd been off and on with it for some time. But he had stopped taking it because he (as in so many cases) absolutely hated the total zombie side-effect of the shit, and figured it would be better to be depressed and have your self back than to keep taking it and end up a door-stop.

In the two other deaths of friends of mine on fluoxetine, they too had stopped it because of the zombie-door-stop thing within weeks of killing themselves."


Oliver Tobias and Benedict Freitag

When dedicating a tree to Michael Gothard, Oliver said: “He was a sensitive man – perhaps too sensitive,” and spoke of remembering Michael holding his head on his lap when the spear had hit him, and he nearly died.

He also mentioned Jack Watson. He said he felt privileged to be the one left alive. Then, clearly affected, he drove the commemorative stake into the ground with considerable force.

Oliver’s brother, Benedict Freitag, who had once met Michael, (before ‘Arthur of the Britons’) and performed a Cheyenne ceremony at the site, said that Michael didn’t have the filters you need, to stop yourself feeling all the suffering going on in the world – “otherwise you give yourself the bullet.”

Though Oliver had gradually lost touch with Michael Gothard after filming the series, it seems likely that Michael’s death was the reason he had closed away the memory of ‘Arthur of the Britons.’


Director, John Glen

"I remember him as a very pleasant person as well as a fine actor ... I was shocked to hear of Michael's untimely death.”


Actress, Mathilda May

"I remember him as a lovely person; a gentleman ..."


“Batman” on Britmovie Forum

"Michael's career had hit a bit of a decline, but he had appeared on stage and had made two films (Christopher Columbus and Frankenstein) in the year prior to his death. He had suffered from depression most of his life and this, alongside personal problems, contributed to his early death. RIP Michael."
michael_gothard_archive: (Default)
Michael Gothard’s death was registered in the London Borough of Camden.
He died on Wednesday 2nd December 1992.

He was described as “Actor and Therapist.”

An inquest, held on the 5th January 1993, concluded:
“Cause of death is Hanging
Took his own life on account of his illness.”

An article in the Hampstead and Highgate local paper said that “the inquest was told that he had been receiving treatment for depression.”
michael_gothard_archive: (London)
This report by Jeff Kaye was printed in the Chicago Tribune on 15 Jan 1993, after the film’s UK premier on 29 January 1992, but before its US premiere, which wasn’t until June 1993. Michael Gothard appeared as the Bosun in this film, and his scenes were filmed at Pinewood, as described in the report.

Tnt Goes Back To The Source For `Frankenstein'

Harsh winds are stirring up such a thick cloud of snow across this patch of frozen tundra that it's difficult to see the team of huskies pulling the oversized sled in the distance.

The dogs yelp with enthusiasm as they race past a snowdrift and circle back toward their starting point.

It's a mighty surprising scene for the unprepared observer.

The surprise has nothing to do with the fact that this is all taking place just outside London on a warmish autumn day. This is, after all, Pinewood Studios, one of the most famous movie lots in the world. Here, creating a realistic arctic setting, should be a snap. Next to the tundra is a hulking soundstage marked "007" where some of James Bond's most amazing feats have been filmed.

What's remarkable about this icy milieu is that it has been painstakingly constructed, in the name of strict authenticity, to film the opening sequence of a new movie about Frankenstein.

Frankenstein on a dog sled in the Arctic Circle? It's a weird idea that probably would have been deemed utterly preposterous and tossed in the trash if not for the person who thought of it. That person was Mary Shelley, whose 1818 novel "Frankenstein" begins with a disfigured creature and its creator locked in a deadly chase across the great white North.

Boris Karloff and the legion of square-headed descendants who have played Frankenstein's monster in countless films may have provided hours of thrilling entertainment with their versions of the creature. But what really wound up hideously disfigured in those movies was Shelley's novel.

Now comes Turner Network Television to set things right.

The cable channel is producing what it claims to be the most true-to-the-original-story version of Frankenstein ever filmed, with Randy Quaid as the monster (no, his name is not Frankenstein) and Patrick Bergin as his creator (his name is Frankenstein)

...

The notion of filming the original Frankenstein story began with writer-director-producer David Wickes … "I read the story like everyone else when I was at school," says the British filmmaker, as he sits near a pack of baying huskies on the arctic set. "I was fascinated by it and loved it, and it remained an image forever." He saw all the Frankenstein movies and always believed that they "didn't live up to what I had read."


Wickes finally decided to pursue his idea for the film after a dinner party at which the table talk centered on genetic engineering and the possibility of choosing not only a baby's sex but also its level of intelligence.

"I said, `Well, it's like the Frankenstein story,' and someone at the table said, `You mean the monster with the bolts through the neck?' And I thought, hey, now's the time" to shoot the original version.

An obvious question arises. If the original story is so good, why hadn't anyone filmed it?

"When I started to transpose the novel to movie script, I realized how difficult it was," he says. "A novel is a very different thing from a movie. There are long, introspective thoughts, exhaustively discussed, dismembered and examined under microscopic intensity. You cannot do that in a picture. A picture has to have events and images, dialogue and relationships."

TNT executives not only believed the transformation was possible, but found the idea irresistible …

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