Wednesday, 1 August 2012

RIP Gore Vidal

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Once again it is my sad duty to make the passing of a significant figure in film. This time it's Gore Vidal, the maverick author, playwright and social commentator, who passed away yesterday at the age of 86.

I will confess to being relatively ignorant about Vidal's work as a novelist: I've never read any of his books. My familiarity with him comes in his public diatribes against George W. Bush and his mixed relationship with filmmaking. He is the man who wrote the novel Myra Breckenridge, whose adaptation by Michael Sarne is widely considered to be one of the worst films of all time. He was credited with scripting Caligula, but later disowned the film after seeing how Bob Guccione had altered Tinto Brass' original cut to include more of his Penthouse babes. He also had a hand in the scripts for Ben-Hur and Michael Cimino's The Sicilian, though on both occasions he is not officially credited.

Vidal was a controversial figure, and like his contemporary Truman Capote, he was never out of the limelight. During the 1968 presidential conventions, he was involved in a series of heated debates with the conservative commentator William F. Buckley, resulting in a deep feud lasting more than 40 years. He declared that the Bush administration was so stupid that they "could never have pulled off 9/11 even if they wanted to" and even waded into the ongoing accusations surrounding Roman Polanski (my thoughts on which can be found here).
When asked to comment on Buckley's death in 2008, Vidal said: "I thought hell is bound to be a livelier place, as he joins forever those whom he served in life, applauding their prejudices and fanning their hatred." Wherever he is now, let's hope he's found someone he can argue with. RIP.

Daniel

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