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Donald Cammell (1934 - 1996)

Lifespan: 1934 - 1996

Related: director - British cinema

Films: Performance (1970) - Demon Seed (1977) -

Wild Side (1995-98) - Donald Cammell [Amazon UK] [Amazon US, studio cut]

Originally filmed in 1995. Director Donald Cammell had his name removed as director. His Director's Cut, prepared by editor Frank Mazzola and featuring a new soundtrack by Ryuichi Sakamoto, has been released in 1999 under the title "Donald Cammell's Wild Side".

There are three different versions of the film. Cammell committed suicide shortly after seeing it drastically re-edited by its producers. A "director's cut" version by Cammell's wife and co-screenwriter China Kong, and his editor and sometime producer Frank Mazzola, was released in 2000 to critical acclaim.


Donald Seaton Cammell (1934-1996) was a British film director who enjoys a cult reputation thanks to his debut film Performance, which he co-directed with Nicholas Roeg.

Cammell was a prodigy as a society portrait painter and thanks to family connections became a central figure of the swinging London social scene of the 1960s. After Performance Cammell struggled to get another film produced until the visually stunning but low key Demon Seed in 1977. He also made the eccentric horror thriller White of the Eye in 1987. Between infrequent film and TV directing jobs, Cammell made a mark directing music videos for the likes of U2.

When Cammell's 1995 film Wild Side was cut by the producer, he committed suicide by shooting himself, though the wound was not immediately fatal. He asked for a mirror so that he could watch himself die. A posthumous "director's cut", edited by his widow China Kong and editor Frank Mazzola, was released in 2000 to critical acclaim. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Cammell [Jan 2006]

"I predicted Donald Cammell's suicide. He was in love with death."

"I predicted Donald Cammell's suicide. He was in love with death." - Kenneth Anger at the Tampere International Short Film Festival, 1998 The Man That Time Forgot

When Donald Cammell put a shotgun to his head at his home on April 23, 1996, he was expecting a quick death. He'd been depressed for some time. He had even told some of the people close to him that he was contemplating suicide. But most people still saw the witty, urbane 62-year old they'd come to know. His death was to be the brutal resolution to a life filled with promise but plagued with false stars and setbacks. Cammell's disillusionment was now total; his marriage was over, and his latest film, Wild Side, had, he thought, been butchered by its producers. --Story by Paul Beard and Lee Hill, Neon, August 1997 --http://www.phinnweb.org/roeg/films/performance/cammell/

His father

His father, Charles, was a poet, journalist and the author of books on Byron and Rossetti. More significantly, he had written a biography of Aleister Crowley, the occultist branded "the wickedest man in the world" by Lord Beaverbrook. Cammell was well versed in the arts and literature, plus it was rumoured -- entirely without foundation -- that Crowley was his godfather. --http://www.phinnweb.org/roeg/films/performance/cammell/

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