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The Film's Design And Music
"People like Sheba think they know what it is to be lonely. But of the drip-drip of the long-haul, no-end-in-sight solitude, they know nothing.” -- Barbara Covett

In bringing NOTES ON A SCANDAL to the screen, Richard Eyre wanted to capture the story's unique tone – combining astringent humor and stark humanity in its view of the contemporary crossroads where obsession and loneliness link paths. The film would shoot primarily in Eastbourne, a historic seafront town outside of London, under the photographic aegis of Academy Award-winning cinematographer Chris Menges. With past films that have ranged from the charming comedy of LOCAL HERO to the power of THE KILLING FIELDS and THE MISSION as well as his recent work capturing the grit of today's London underworld in DIRTY PRETTY THINGS, Eyre felt that Menges would be a strong match with the film's intimate, darkly psychological themes.

"Chris is a very gifted, human and intelligent cinematographer,” says Eyre. "Above all, he's interested in people. I think he's almost matchlessly good at lighting and he brings a kind of spontaneous luminousness to the life of the human face, which was so important to this story. There's also a brave honesty to his work that I thought made him perfect for this project.”

"Chris and I discussed an approach to the film before we started shooting. Every decision we made was aimed towards making the carefully constructed and exact script feel spontaneous, so that the performances should appear to be ‘caught on the wing',” explains Eyre. "Much of the film was shot hand-held. Through many years as a documentary film-maker Chris is a master of this technique: the camera becomes an extension of his eye. Even when the actors were static, seated at a table perhaps, he kept movement in the camera to achieve a sense of nervy energy. The lighting always aimed at a natural look, but for each scene Chris tilted the color and shape of the lighting towards the required mood. But above all, his concern was with the human element - the performances. He loves the luminousness of skin, the animation and beauty of the human face. "

When Chris Menges was approached by Eyre to capture the essence of these two complicated women, he could not resist the chance. "I was caught by the story of Barbra's isolation, living her lonely life as a teacher in the vast urban landscape of a modern city. The chance of touching or hugging is an impossibility, no matter how hard she strives. I also wanted to capture Sheba's lunacy, falling in love with youth, the adrenalin, the excitement and the wonderment. I relished the chance to capture these complicatd, turbulent emotions by two such amazing but different actresses, so attuned to their roles in this story,” Said Menges. It was essential to see them at a distance, spatially, and have them converge as the story progresses and their characters become more intimate and intertwined. It was so challenging, especially since we always wanted to protect the excitement of the moment that only they could deliver.

Eyre also brought in his long-time collaborator Tim Hatley, with whom he worked on STAGE BEAUTY and in several theatrical productions, to draw double duty as both the film's production and costume designer. Impressed with Hatley's evocation of the private interior spaces probed in Mike Nichol's film version of CLOSER, Eyre expected that Hatley had the kind of keen eye that would be able to capture the inner architecture of Barbara and Sheba's worlds as well as a portrait of England that would go well beyond visual clichés.

For his part, Hatley had long been a fan of Zoë Heller's novel and relished the chance to work with Eyre on another screen project. "Having worked together on STAGE BEAUTY, as well as working in theatre and opera, Richard and I have a tried and true working relationship,” says Hatley. "This was important. The work was so intens


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