"La vallée" was filmed in Papua New Guinea.

For an insight into the mind behind the film, see the interview with Director Barbet Schroeder on this site dedicated to "La vallée."

"The Valley ... fuses fiction and documentary with improvised dialogue. Made with just a crew of just 13, this road movie by land rover, horseback and on foot, set to Pink Floyd’s shimmering psychedelia, is very much of the period – and one in which the director gets to unleash his thoughts about ‘finding one-self’ in a post-hippy era."
Full review

Valley Obscured by Clouds cast and crew

The entire cast and crew of La vallée: Michael is on the far right.
Photo is from this site.

According to Gerry Cullen, who became friends with Michael Gothard while working as an extra on "Arthur of the Britons" in 1972:

"Michael had finished working on that when I first met him ... He talked about the film quite a bit to me as to how he felt very good about that film.

It was years later before I had had a chance to see it and once I did I could see why, I think the storyline and the character he played fit his view of life, a sense of risks and adventure, willing to do what it takes to find out what it is all about. It’s just my thought but I think that was what kept him feeling most alive.

It was a time of discovery for people willing to travel to really delve into a culture and take risks. I think "La Vallee" expresses that for Michael, and he liked that film very much."

Harold Chapman also spoke to Michael about ‘La vallée.’ He says: "In a recent film [released in July 1972 in France] which I was a bit puzzled over, and wanted him to explain, he was more or less playing himself, a man of VERY few words. He was leading a small band of hippies on a trek in a tropical landscape situation in search of something or other which I couldn't quite understand.

Mike explained this as, 'we were asking questions, seeking answers, and only found more questions'. Which I thought summed up the movie to me."

Michael’s former girlfriend N.B., who first met him in 1984, says:

'He didn’t like watching himself. I never got him to show me any movie he had worked in. From what he told me, I think he liked the film “Up the Junction” and “Arthur of the Britons.” And the French one, “La vallée.”

He wasn’t very good at learning new languages. He was o.k. with a bit of French (since he had lived in Paris for a year), but he rarely said anything in French and if so, he had a hard time to get the pronunciation right.'

Watch on Youtube:

Part 1
Part 2

IMDB entry
These memories were recounted by Harold Chapman, the photographer who took photos in and around the Beat Hotel in the 1960s.

"I ran into a friend of Mike’s in Paris, who told me about a tiny café Mike had bought in a seedy part of London which was very rough, and would I like to visit Mike in London.

This friend of his was a journalist working on a local paper in the area where the café was. His name was also Chapman, absolutely no relation whatsoever of mine. He told me that Mike was quite upset, as the police were constantly raiding the café, but never finding anything: just sheer harassment, I would imagine. Chapman the journalist wrote an article about this in the local paper. The harassment then ceased. I think the café was somewhere in the King's Cross area but I cannot be sure.
Read more... )
At the Beat Hotel

In the book, ‘The Beat Hotel’, written by Barry Miles, there is just about one line about me ... 'In the attic there was a man who never spoke to anyone for two years.' That is how Allen Ginsberg saw me.

I have no idea what room Mike was living in, in the Beat Hotel, which is strange, but then I led my own bizarre lifestyle and I could have well been working only at night, wandering the streets of Paris documenting tiny cafes, etc. I did not know Dan Bush, [Michael's friend and room-mate] although I do know that there was an American in the hotel called Dan.
Read more... )

In London

I ran into a friend of Mike’s in Paris, who told me about a tiny cafe Mike had bought in a seedy part of London which was very rough, and would I like to visit Mike in London ...

Mike had explained to me that the cafe barely made a living, because the only people that came in there were a rough crowd of young delinquents, engaged in all sorts of nasty activities, such as collecting protection money from small shopkeepers, small robberies, muggings and the like ... Naive as I was, I thought that that would be a wonderful opportunity to take pictures of these characters.
Read more... )

On acting

Mike was a man of few words, and was often quite tense and depressed. His early films seemed to express his moods. He always seemed to be himself in any movie or TV show that I ever saw.

‘La vallée’

In a recent film [‘La vallée’, released in July 1972 in France] which I was a bit puzzled over, and wanted him to explain, he was more or less playing himself, a man of VERY few words. He was leading a small band of hippies on a trek in a tropical landscape situation in search of something or other which I couldn't quite understand.

Mike explained this as, 'we were asking questions, seeking answers, and only found more questions'. Which I thought summed up the movie to me.

Harold’s wife Claire, on the pronunciation of Michael’s surname

From you and [belsizepark] we learned that his surname was Gothard and not Goddard, so Harold must have remembered Michael's name as the more usual (at least in the UK, I think) surname of Goddard.

.
Michael Gothard at The Beat Hotel, 1960/61 by Harold Chapman

Photo by Harold Chapman.
©TopFoto/Harold Chapman.

Harold Chapman: "I had run across him by chance and we sat in the Café St-Michel just round the corner from the Beat Hotel, discussing this and that. It is a one-off picture as I always carry my camera with me in case I see something that I wish to photograph, and this was while we were sitting at the table and he was relaxed and thinking and everything fell into place and I quickly took one shot. I used the photo in my book, The Beat Hotel, and only made one print. That has been lost for nearly thirty years and I have been selling off my archival prints for some time and only found it after an extensive search."
In the BFI notes with Herostratus, Michael is described as “a directionless state-school leaver.”

From TV Times: 8 February 1973:

"I left school when I was 17 or 18 with little idea of what I wanted to do. I think this would be true of most people if left to their own devices. Most of us are channeled into various functions, for better or for worse.

This is how things are constructed, but you always get the odd one who slips through, who doesn't fit too well. I mean, people either find something they like doing or they end up gangsters or just plain bums. It comes down to that, doesn't it?"
Read more... )

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October 2013

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