Boorman must have been careful not to mention this abstract and ingenious idea out loud to any actual producer. Discussing the “stresses and struggles” of working in America, he has the usual horror stories about philistine moguls, who flinch from and weed out originality, and “whose fear of failure is much greater than their desire for success”. Nevertheless, despite half a century of coping with casts who lack chemistry, mutinous crews, truculent cameramen, unpredictable weather and escalating (or disappearing) budgets, Boorman has loved the cinema with a passion.
Boorman’s previous book, Adventures of a Suburban Boy(2003) was a more linear account of his directorial career that included not only his notable successes but the box-office catastrophe Exorcist II (1977). Conclusions is more fragmented, a commonplace book that includes advice for budding screenwriters; tributes to the BBC where, as a young documentarian, he was given freedom to experiment and to “paint with light”; and fond recollections of the characters he has encountered in his years living in Ireland... In the end, what makes Conclusions so delightful is Boorman’s awareness of how absurd cinema is. Absurd as in non-rational, dreamlike, an escape from what passes for reality. Cinema as collective dreaming, a permission to dream. “Committing yourself to the life of a film-maker is to embrace a form of joyous slavery,” he writes. What romance!
Part anecdote-driven autobiography, part director’s handbook, Conclusions is an unruly piece of work. Boorman doesn’t give much of a damn for conventional structure: if he feels like throwing in 20 pages of illustrated poems, he will. But it is possible for a work to be digressive and untidy while remaining perfectly absorbing, full of substance and wisdom. The book’s title might refer as much to griefs and endings (the death of Boorman’s daughter, the dissolution of two marriages, the passing of friends and contemporaries) as any final verdict. But with losses come consolations, most notably a profound sense of wonder at the workings of nature itself.