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I recently had the pleasure of attending a talk by Alexander McCall Smith, author of The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. He spoke, among other things, of working with Anthony on the film adaptation of his novel. Agency is groundbreaking in being the first film to be shot entirely in Botswana, and Smith said that the scene with the Bishop of Botswana was written by Anthony especially for the film. He said he was very glad when he first discovered that Anthony was making it, because "his films are beautiful"; he even talked a little about Ripley, calling it a film with "gorgeous textures and music".

And here is something funny that happened during the session. Smith was in conversation with travel writer and historian William Dalrymple on an open-air stage in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, India's desert state. Just as soon as they had started talking, this absolutely gorgeous peacock flew up into the trees right behind them. Quite a few people in the audience gasped; peacocks aren't exactly little. The most curious part was that the two writers were completely unaware of anything, because the beautiful creature had been above and then behind them. I thought it was a wonderful sort of dramatic irony, a little like the fox that keeps encroaching on Jude Law's character's territory in Breaking and Entering, like an emblem of how we are never very far away from wilderness, no matter how civilised we consider ourselves.
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In Appreciation of Anthony Minghella

December 2014

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