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Film Critic – And Why Not

Hello Dear Reader

Film Critic – And Why Not

As soon as, ‘I wish I knew how it would feel to be free’ started, I knew I was in for a treat. That was the chosen theme music for the BBC Film series, hosted by the late Barry Norman.

Barry Norman became someone who, for me, helped expand my love of films, not just the mainstream, but why I should want to watch a certain movie. He took up the role after years as a journalist in 1972. I was not immediately taken with him I must say, but his down to earth manners and simple explaining won through.

Like many others, I wanted to know what films were due for release, was I going to be interested, would they be worth rushing to the cinema. Unlike today, there was no internet, no pushing of trailers on television. There was a rival on the other channel, aimed more at children. It was ok but Barry Norman just went those steps further.

He seemed to talk to me, not many presenters could that, just make you feel he was just telling me to watch this film or avoid that one. He had one overriding criteria, whether a film was going to last; whether new generations of cinema goers would want to watch it in 20 years time. If you look at the films he recommended in 2013, you can see the reasoning.

It became something of a need to listen to his reviews and there are a few, in particular, that stand out for me. Of course, my favorite has to be Star Wars. I knew of the film briefly from odd comic magazines but it was Barry Norman’s review that sealed. H e described it as “Two hours of sheer bliss, the ultimate in space-age fairy tales,”. Now some might have dismissed this ‘new’ space-age film as childish, Norman did not. He knew what the film business had to do, entertain.

He did this without ever speaking down to his audience, taking them into his confidence. If Barry Norman said it was good, it was good. He was not one to duck away from telling actors, producers, and the likes his views about their work. He nearly got punched by John Wayne and had Robert De Niro leave, over a comment about Tom Hanks.

Barry Norman wrote a number of books, giving his reviews on the 100 greatest films and his autobiography, ‘And Why Not’. I had the great pleasure of listening to him at the New Victoria Theatre one evening. He still held that easy-going, simple style that had the audience wanting more. Asked about his reviewing style Norman said: “I always knew that nobody’s right and nobody’s wrong in criticism. The only thing I could do was to make sure that whatever I said was what I really believed”.

Tagline:’And Why Not – That Star Wars moment. (Add the theme as well)’