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Performance

Nicolas Roeg, Donald Cammell
UK 1970 / 105’
Walkabout

A psychedelic portrait of swinging London in the guise of a crime drama. The film's protagonist is a gangster named Chas (James Foxx), who kills someone and then hides out at the home of an eccentric rock star named Turner (Mick Jagger in his best role). Influenced by the decadent atmosphere, Chas is freed not only of his clothing but also of his heteronormative prejudices. Allowing an androgynous, bisexual artist to take over his identity, Chas creates himself anew. The bold film language employed, liberated from all genre limitations, operates in much the same way. The sex scenes involving Anita Pallenberg, Michèle Breton, and Jagger were so good that they were considered pornographic and destined for the trash bin. The material managed to survive, however, and was circulated as a short porn film in the Netherlands and even won a prize at a festival. Wanting to sue the directors, the production company, Warner Bros., shelved the film for two years, forcing Cammell to make some final changes. Considered scandalous when it was made, Roeg (who was also the cinematographer) and Cammel's directorial debut, which pulses with the energy of the era, now enjoys a reputation as an innovative, iconic work.

Małgorzata Sadowska

Nicolas Roeg

Born in 1928, Nicolas Roeg is one of Britain's most original filmmakers: a director with passion who tears down the order of the classical narrative, a master of editing and an outstanding stylist. Probing with his camera deep into our obsessions, tormenting memories, unhealed collective and individual wounds and sexual fantasies, he broke down the on-screen division between past and present, proving - in a particularly brilliant way - that cinema is a time capsule. While struggling for years with rejection and being misunderstood, Roeg consistently followed the path of an outsider, not only setting his films outside Great Britain (in Australia, the Seychelles, Vienna), but also happily working with artists associated with counter-cultural rebellion (David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Art Garfunkel). Films that came to be appreciated a bit too late, such as PerformanceDon't Look Now, WalkaboutThe Man Who Fell to Earth and Bad Timing, are iconic works: visually stunning, engaging, provocative fairy tales for adults.

Selected filmography

1970 Performance

1971 Walkabout

1973 Nie oglądaj się teraz / Don’t Look Now

1976 Człowiek, który spadł na ziemię / The Man Who Fell to Earth

1980 Zmysłowa obsesja / Bad Timing

1983 Eureka

1985 Z przymrużeniem oka / Insignificance

1988 Tor 29 / Track 29

1990 Wiedźmy / Witches

Cast & Crew

director Nicolas Roeg, Donald Cammell
screenplay Donald Cammell
cinematography Nicolas Roeg
editing Antony Gibbs, Brian Smedley-Aston
music Jack Nitzsche
cast James Fox, Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg, Michèle Breton
producer David Cammell, Sanford Lieberson
production Goodtimes Enterprises
sales Park Circus
language English
colouration colour