Film: Double Bill - William Nicholson, Director of 'Firelight' (released 21 August) and screenwriter of 'Shadowlands', on his ideal cinematic pairing

Once Upon A Time in The West Dir. Sergio Leone (1968) 2001: A Space Odyssey Stanley Kubrick (1968)
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The Independent Culture
THIS IS a very long double bill - it would take almost a whole day to watch both, as they are each over three hours long. They are slow movies in an individual way, and that is one of the reasons I love them both. They build a hypnotic power, the kind of film-making that you have to surrender to the director.

I admire - more than admire - films which completely draw you into this directorial confidence. From the very beginning you are not given the usual easy hooks, fast action, jokes or mystery, but are forced to attend to the images. I think that puts a lot of people off. But for me, once I have realised what is going on, I am just completely hypnotised.

These are two very different movies. I would run the western first. Once Upon a Time in the West is the greatest western ever. It is brilliantly directed, although there are some things wrong with it.- it is synched into English badly and clumsily at times.

But it is majestically filmed, has one of the best music scores in film history and is an absolutely superb story.

I am a great admirer of storytelling. The movie has a central hook: there is a mystery about the central character - why is he relentlessly pursuing the villain? When the mystery is finally revealed, in a way it is the most profoundly satisfying ending of any film I have seen. The end is wordless. It is a purely visual and vast, sprawling western that needs to be seen in the cinema.

We would then have a nice meal to recover and settle down to 2001: A Space Odyssey (above).

Once again this is a movie that makes no attempt to seduce us in the usual way. It is more than arrogance - it is almost Olympian the way Kubrick refuses to do anything to help us into the movie. He demands that we slow down to his pace and really surf on his images. You just have to accept the film-maker's terms and, once you have done that, you find yourself moving through a story that has very little action, and not much in the way of character, but gradually exerts a massive grip

When I first saw this film I remember thinking it was pretentious; the ending has a very mysterious, almost mystical quality that didn't make sense. I have completely changed my mind: the ending is brilliant, almost entirely non-verbal and deeply haunting. It stays with you, and you see more the more times you watch it.

This is a double bill of movies not made with words, which is odd for me as a writer. I think the reasons I am so drawn to them is that I am impressed by the way they use cinema to tell the story, not people talking. In different ways both do something that only cinema can do: create a sense of awe and wonder that you can't get from television.

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