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With his latest film, The Railway Man, starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, it seems another Aussie director is hitting the big time. We caught up with Teplitzky to find out more...

The Railway Man is based on the autobiography of Eric Lomax, a soldier who was captured by the Japanese during WWII, tortured and forced to work as a slave on the notorious Thai/Burma ‘Death Railway’. Eric died shortly after filming wrapped. Here, we talk to Aussie director Jonathan Teplitzky about the film, working with A-listers ,and honouring Eric’s legacy.

This is your biggest film to date – what does The Railway Man mean to you?

It means a lot to me just [because of] the story that it tells. It was a great experience to work with Patti [Eric’s wife] and Eric Lomax. For them to trust us to take their story and turn it into a movie was amazing. If the movie was fiction you’d just say it’s unbelievable, and I think that’s the challenge of making and honouring this story. That’s what made it so exciting to do.

Australia is churning out some top directors such as yourself, Baz Luhrman and Peter Weir – do you think people are starting to pay more attention to the Australian film industry?

I think that we’re a very small industry and the thing about it is that we go through periods where we make three or four really good movies and then another year we make maybe one or two. I think we punch above our weight generally and, if you think about America, they make hundreds of features a year and how many of them are truly great?

Were there any difficulties in adapting it from a book to film?

There always are. The problem is often about condensing because you can’t tell a 40-year life story in that amount of time. You have to decide the story you’re telling and then use the bits that are relevant. In many ways, the film started out as an adaptation of Eric’s book, but because it took so many years to develop and we got to know Eric and Patti very well, we got to know what they were feeling emotionally and psychologically. So ideas and directions for scenes came out of that relationship.


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Interview: Jonathan Teplitzky
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