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Tuesday, February 2, 2021

stuntsman Remy Julienne of Bond Movies fame is no more !

Charlie Croker, upon his release from prison, meets up with the widow of his friend and fellow thief Roger Beckermann, who has been killed by the Mafia in an Italian Alpine tunnel while driving a Lamborghini Miura. Mrs Beckermann gives Croker her husband's plans for the robbery that attracted the hostile attention of his killers, which details a way to steal $4 million in gold in the city of Turin and escape to Switzerland.  .. … .. plot of 1969 movie ‘The Italian Job’    written by Troy Kennedy Martin, produced by Michael Deeley and directed by Peter Collinson.  Could not find the name of  Remy Julienne – though he figured in the movie prominently !! 


In every climax, it would invariably happen ! ~ the hero would perform something impossible, an auto chase, burning car, fast train, jumping from air and more – hero would leap into villain’s vehicle.  Fans would rejoice – would keep discussing that no other hero could fight so well – most know that most of the risk was undertaken by some lesser mortal whose name may not even figure in the cast; worser still, would remain uncared for if involved in an accident and got injured. Certainly not an exhaustive list –   may not be readily recognizable – some of the names, I have heard - Dhilip Subbarayan; Super Subbarayan; Stunt Silva; Kanal Kannan ; Jaguar Thangam; rocky Rajesh; Vikram Dharma, Peter Hein .. .. .. and .. .. ..

Long ago, waiting in an hospital, closer to nighttime, a van arrived and out in the stretcher was a youngman with bleeding injuries all over – some stuntman who had performed breaking a glass door, flying through it !   overheard that the hero in the movie, when a scene of kicking on the face was to be filmed, lifted his foot shortly, asked the camera man to take a shot from a pit ! 

Life perhaps has never been easy for those stunt performers – right from the early days of movie making to modernised methods of date. In India, they are generally uncared for and do not even get proper insurance protection – as this is one excluded risk.  Still, most performers do not have a choice – it is not attitude, but often driven by the only way they know to earn money.  Attitudes to risk are source of income and yet it may not be proportionate or paying all the time.  These are the men who put their lives for the original hero to get applause and rise to greater heights.  They do not get any awards ! – but ensure that the ones for whom they double-up earn millions !! 

A few years ago, in a tragic turn of events, two Kannada actors died after a movie stunt went horribly wrong at Tippagondanahalli Lake in Bengaluru.The actors were filming the stunts for an upcoming film ‘Masti Gudi,’ which stars Duniya Vijay in the lead role. While filming the scene, Vijay and the two actors, Anil and Uday, jumped into the lake from a helicopter. While the lead actor swam ashore, the other two didn’t surface for a long time, post which a search party was immediately dispatched. While a team of expert swimmers tried to recover the two actors, they could not retrieve anything. A safety harness was provided to the lead actor but none were provided to the other two.   

Last year or so, the Tamil cinema industry woke up to the tragic news of three people, on the sets of the Kamal Haasan-starrer Indian 2, being crushed to death after a crane fell on them. Assistant director Krishna, art assistant Chandran and production assistant Madhu were killed in the mishap that occurred at 10 pm on Wednesday. Nine others, who were injured while working on the Shankar directorial, were rushed to a private hospital in Poonamallee.  While the news came as a shock to many, important questions were raised on the responsibility of production houses — in this case, Lyca Productions — towards their employees; the responsibility of the film Directors and that of the Heroes for whom great risks are taken.  Also there are many unanswered Qs  about the way in which Kollywood deals with accidents and mishaps that take place on film sets.

No post on accidents but on stuntmen .. .. one of the world's leading stuntmen, Remy Julienne, who worked on six James Bond films as well as the 1969 classic 'The Italian Job', has died from Covid-19 aged 90, friends and family said on Friday. A veteran of more than 1,400 films and TV commercials as an actor or stunt coordinator, Julienne had been in intensive care in a hospital in his home town of Montargis in central France since early January.

Veteran stunt driver Remy Julienne,  worked on six James Bond movies and was involved in more than 1,400 movies and TV commercials since the 1960s.  One of his most memorable stunts - which made his name in the industry - was this jump across and alleyway between two buildings in the Italian Job. He also arranged this amazing stunt on the 1981 James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only. A French motocross champion, he began his film career in 1964 when he doubled for French actor Jean Marais in the film 'Fantomas', in which he was required to ride a motorbike. 'They needed someone who was very controlled,' he said of this experience. 'It ended up being me. It was the start of a huge adventure.' His career saw him fly over Venice dangling from a rope-ladder suspended from a helicopter, being hit in the face with a pumpkin while riding a motorbike and countless car crashes.

He doubled for some of the world's most famous actors, including Sean Connery and Roger Moore, as well top French names including Yves Montand, Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo. Both as an actor and a director of stunt sequences, which became the focus of his later career, Julienne won praise from some of the biggest names in cinema for his precision and creativity. A believer in real action rather than special effects, Julienne worked constantly to minimise the risks he took during his shoots, but he badly injured himself early in his career while filming on a Colombian production in Germany. His career low point came during filming for the French film 'Taxi 2' in 1999, which he was overseeing, when a cameraman was killed by a car that missed its landing spot after a jump. He was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in 2007 and handed an 18-month suspended jail sentence, which was later reduced on appeal to six months and an order to pay damages of €60,000 to the victim's family.

Julienne also helped police with crime reconstructions. In 2000, he mounted a reconstruction of the death of a British student, Isabel Peake, to try to establish how the young woman was pushed from a Paris-bound train. Julienne said the work 'was very much like cinema work, only here we are fortunate enough to be using dummies, which takes a certain amount of pressure off us'.

RIP Julienne 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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