All the fascination in the World

 

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‘Fifty shades of fascinating’ barely begins to cover it.

The high-definition, multi-angle level of interest – not to mention raw controversy – surrounding master director Ridley Scott‘s latest movie has baited a hook that’s been hard to look away from. 

The on-screen goings on are crazy-interesting for starters. This film depicts the real-life kidnapping back in 1973 of the 16-year-old grandson of billionaire oil tycoon Jean Paul Getty, who only seven years previously, had been named as the world’s richest man. More on that later.

The other aspect to this film bumping up its interest factor are the off-screen events surrounding the unprecedented recasting of one of the film’s major supporting characters. In case you missed it, just seven weeks ago the film’s producers made the decision to recast the role played by Kevin Spacey after the actor became the subject of a slew of historical sexual harassment claims from roughly a dozen independent and unconnected claimants.

This involved hiring another actor (88-year-old Canadian Christopher Plummer) to play Spacey’s role, requiring 22 scenes (400 shots) be filmed all over again. The crew is reported to have worked 18 hour days to complete the monumental feat which added $10 million to the film’s budget. Co stars Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams (ex partner of Heath Ledger) also agreed to come back to reshoot scenes together with Plummer.

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Filmmakers have had to reshoot parts of films before – two examples that come to mind are when Paul Walker died during a break in filming for FAST & FURIOUS 7 and when Oliver Reed suffered a fatal heart attack during a break from filming GLADIATOR (another Ridley Scott movie) – but reshooting a film to the extent that Scott undertook for ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD under the circumstances that prompted it and within such an insanely small timeframe, has never been done before. 

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As to the drama on screen, there’s flood-level amounts of that as well – all of it depicting in accurate detail the true life events of the 1973 kidnapping and ransom demand.

As history records it, at 3 a.m. on 10 July 1973, John Paul Getty III then age 16, was kidnapped from the Piazza Farnese  – a building that today serves as the French Embassy in Italy – in Rome. He was blindfolded, transported, and imprisoned in a mountain hideout in the southern Italian region of Calabria. A ransom note was received, demanding $17 million in exchange for his safe return. When that ransom message arrived, some family members suspected the kidnapping was merely a ploy by the rebellious youngster (who had been previously expelled from Boarding School) as he had frequently joked about staging his own kidnapping to extract money from his notoriously frugal grandfather John Paul Getty.

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A second demand was received, but had been delayed by an Italian postal strike.

John Paul Getty II asked his father, John Paul Getty, for the money, but was refused arguing that, were he to pay the ransom, his 14 other grandchildren could also be kidnapped.

In November 1973, an envelope containing a lock of hair and a human ear (the movie’s clever tagline is “Everyone wants a cut”) was delivered to a daily newspaper with a threat of further mutilation of the grandson, unless $3.2 million was paid: “This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits.”

At this point the reluctant Getty Sr. negotiated a deal to get his grandson back for about $2.9 million. Getty Sr. paid $2.2 million—the maximum amount that was tax-deductible—and he loaned the remainder to his son who was responsible for repaying the sum at 4% interest. When it came to frugal, Dicken’s Ebeneezer Scrooge, Scrooge McDuck, Shakespeare‘s famous moneylender Shylock and let’s throw in Lady Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey fame as well, all had nothing on John Paul Getty Senior in the penny-pinching stakes. The kicker was –  SPOILER ALERT – after his release from the kidnappers John Paul III called his grandfather to thank him for paying the ransom but Getty refused to come to the phone.

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Anyone interested in further reading on this topic is spoiled for choice.

I saw this movie at Springfield Event Cinemas on the day it opened (yesterday) with 14 other people in the cinema. This is not a movie in any danger of setting box office records and if there’s such a genre as ‘Eccentric real-life billionaires’ biopics’ then I’d be inclined to say I preferred watching Leonardo DiCaprio portray American business magnate Howard Hughes in Martin Scorcese‘s 2004 film THE AVIATOR more, but ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD is a film well worth seeing if you have any interest in knowing more about the famous kidnapping or wish to see Christopher Plummer give an Oscar-winning acting performance.

Ps. **Changing topic completely** – It was around this New Year’s time two years ago musician David Bowie passed away. Bowie was apparently a voracious reader and in tribute to that fact his son (Duncan Jones) has now started THE DAVID BOWIE BOOK CLUB. The idea is to read a different book each month from David Bowie‘s Top 100 Favourite Books list he compiled back in 2013. Those interested have until February 1st to read the first book selected which is English author Peter Ackroyd‘s HAWKSMOOR (published in 1985).

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After February 1st a discussion of the book will launch on Duncan Jones’s Twitter page  https://twitter.com/manmademoon (he’s got a mere 328 000 followers).

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Pss. For anyone interested in seeing all the titles that made Bowie‘s TOP 100 FAVOURITE BOOKS list –

CLICK HERE

 

 

5 thoughts on “All the fascination in the World

  1. After reading your blog this week, it put an urge inside of me to go & see it! I will have to book it in… By the way, I didn’t read the spoiler alert!!!!

    Like

  2. I saw the movie and unlike your experience of a small audience the theatre I was in was FULL. Also my comment would be up until the ear episode it dragged somewhat but after that, things started moving. Worth seeing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It certainly conveys the awful paradox of how vulnerable one can become if they do somehow end up with what so many dream about having. I suspect it is true to say the uber rich are as happy or unhappy as anyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

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