Here I’ve selected twenty of my favourite films and books. For me, books and films are of equal importance. They are stories, life experiences, fantasies, but told through through either words on a page or images on a screen. My own story ideas often encompass both writing and moving images. This is just a small selection, listed in the order that they came to me.
1) 2001 A Space Odyssey directed by Stanley Kubrick (film and book)
My favourite movie of all time, I saw it when it came out in 1968 and it had a huge effect on me. I also read the novel of the same by Arthur C Clarke.
2) Dr Faustus by Thomas Mann (book)
I read this as an student of German at TCD. Allegory on 20th century Germany focusing on a composer who makes a pact with the devil in order to be creative. Riveting and unputdownable!
3) Der Tod in Venedig / Death in Venice by Thomas Mann (book and film)
Also by Thomas Mann, a novella or shorter story about a man who becomes obsessed with a boy in Venice. Read it for A Level German. The film, starring Dirk Bogarde is good too.
4) The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (Book)
Reading this inspired me to write. Hilarious and intelligent. Preferred the book to the TV show
5) The Catcher in the Rye (Book)
A classic piece of literature but very readable and mind-changing. About the troubles of youth.
6) Die Neuen Leiden des jungen W (Book / Play)
A kind of East German Catcher in the Rye, about young Edgar and his treatment by colleagues, relatives and friends. Saw the writer Ulrich Plenzdorf when he visited Manchester University.
7) A Taste of Honey (Film / Play)
My favourite local film of all time, based on the play by Shelagh Delaney. Saw the play in Oldham and met Dora Bryan. I’d still like to meet Rita Tushingham!
8) Double Indemnity (Film / Screenplay)
Classic 1940s American movie about betrayal. Classic film noir style and dialogue. I read the screenplay and it is still electric.
9) 12 Angry Men (Film)
Based on a play, it takes place in one room where a jury of 12 men decide on the fate of the young accused. Riveting.
10) [UFO book - name forgotten]
I was once given the present of a book about UFOs by a friend. Unfortunately I don’t have the book now, and I can’t remember th title. but I remember being captivated by the first chapter, which was about a mysterious and spectacular UFO event. I was inspired to create something in the second chapter of my book Stargirl of the Edge.
11) Kes (Film / Book)
A Kestrel for a Knave turned into a film directed by Ken Loach. Grim, realistic and brilliant. Inspired me to make a short film.
12) Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Film)
One of my favourite films of all time, it has influenced my writing. I love the narrative style and the portrayal of ‘Anytown America’.
13) Wuthering Heights (Book)
Classic of English literature, as effective for its moody portrayal of the Yorkshire Moors as much as the story.
14) Dubliners (Book / Film)
Vivid pictures of people from different backgrounds, captures a strong mood of Dublin in times past.
The shocking story of a girl caught up in drugtaking and prostitution in Berlin in the 70s. I watched the film and read the book. I lived in West Berlin from 1979-80.
16) Tess (Book / Film)
By Thomas Hardy, a classic portrayal of the beauty of the landscape and of the woman, Tess. I enjoyed the movie too.
17) La Modification (Book)
Groundbreaking novel about a man on a train travelling between Paris and Rome, uses unusual time perspectives and disjointed storytelling techniques. Maybe I just liked it because it’s set on a train.
18) L’année dernière à Marienbad (Film)
A bizarre, dream-like film set in a palace, disjoined, incoherent, pretentious perhaps, but visually fascinating. In French with English subtitles.
19) 1984 (Book / Film)
I read the novel in 1984 and watched the film. Utterly riveting, shocking and a fairly accurate prediction of what happened in the Soviet Union and East Germany, which I visited in the 70s and 80s.
20) The Singing Ringing Tree (Film)
A fairy-tale in the style of Grimm turned into a film for children. Made at East Germany’s DEFA studios in the late fifties, it had groundbreaking use of colour and special effects. Its weirdness and foreign mystique had a deep effect on me and my generation in the UK. Available on DVD.