I find it interesting to know what projects famous artistic people were working on when they died, and how it intertwined with their lives at the time. Here are some of my favourites:
- A month before his death at 93, film actor, Christopher Lee, had signed up to star with an ensemble cast in the Danish film ‘The 11th’.
- Richard Wagner, the 19th century German composer was planning another opera ‘Die Sieger’ (The Victors). I read somewhere that a teenage Adolf Hitler tried his hand at completing it.
- David Lean, the British film director, was about to begin filming Joseph Conrad’s book ‘Nostromo’ when he died. In 1997 Alastair Reid directed it as a British-Italian television drama miniseries.
- Stieglitz Larsson who wrote the ‘Millennium Trilogy’ died shortly after delivering the manuscripts and so could not witness the book and films subsequent huge popularity.
- In the summer of 1959, Boris Pasternak, Russian poet and author of ‘Doctor Zhivago’ , began work on a drama to be called ‘The Blind Beauty’. It was to be a drama of the 19th century in Russia with its main event the liberation of the serfs. He envisioned the drama as an ambitious trilogy, but unfortunately only lived to complete the first act.
- After he had finished ‘Once Upon a Time in America’ in 1984, Sergio Leone wanted to make a war epic film based on Harrison Salisbury’s book ‘The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad’, about the Eastern Front during World War II. Leone settled on the idea of following an American war photographer, to be played by Robert De Niro, as he found himself trapped in Leningrad for years during the German siege of the city. Leone secured $100m in financing and the cooperation of the Soviet government and had hired regular collaborator Ennio Morricone to compose the score when he suddenly died of a heart attack in 1989 at the age of 60.
- I had been writing about Moreton Bay for 25 years when Rosemary Opala supplied her sketch of what she imagined would be my final words as I disappeared beneath the surface of the bay’s waters….glug..glug…