Charles Drazin: Fellowship Recipient

Charles Drazin: Fellowship Recipient


I’m Charles Drazin. I come from Queen Mary
University of London and I’m researching into the films of Powell and Pressburger.
The idea really is to do the first fully researched book on two filmmakers who are very well known
in Britain, perhaps not so well known elsewhere. I’ve come to the Harry Ransom Center specifically
to look at the Alfred Junge collection. Alfred Junge was a German art director. Alfred Junge
worked on several of Powell and Pressburger’s major films through the 1940s. About six or
seven of those films are in the Junge collection and he was quite central to the Powell and
Pressburger partnership. So the collection has all his production designs, drawings,
correspondence, it’s just a completely in depth covering of his partnership with Powell
and Pressburger. Just to take an example, one of my favorite Powell and Pressburger
films is Black Narcissus. This is a film which is set in India. They didn’t actually go
to India, Alfred Junge created India on a sound stage and he won the Academy Award for
doing that. And you had this terrific, majestic, India of the mind is a good way to describe
it, and the film begins – I’ve always been struck by the opening of Black Narcissus
– it opens with these two very strange pipes, Tibetan pipes and I’d often wondered, well
where’d they get the idea for that. And I was just looking through a file called Tibet,
looking through lots of images of Tibet, and there I saw the pipes, the pipes which had
obviously inspired the beginning of Black Narcissus, which came from a monastery in
Tibet. And I turned over the photographs and I saw Alfred Junge explaining how he thought
these would be great for Black Narcissus. And it was wonderful going through this file
of photographs from Tibet with Junge’s descriptions of how they would be used in the film. It gave real insight into how that India of the mind was put together.

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