David Whittet
Family Physician and Film Maker

DAVID'S INFLUENCES

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Ludwig van Beethoven
I have been passionate about Beethoven since hearing my mother playing the Pathetique sonata on the piano as a young child. It is hard to conceive of a more worthy figure for a childhood hero than Beethoven; he suffered so much, including the tragedy of deafness for a musician, yet still triumphed.
For those of us who truly love Beethoven, it goes far beyond the music.

Leonard Bernstein, speaking on the occasion of the Beethoven bicentenary, eloquently expressed how I feel about Beethoven:
"No composer has ever lived who speaks so directly to so many people - to people of all classes, nationalities and racial backgrounds, his music speaks a universality of thought, of human brotherhood, of freedom and love. It conveys a sense of God, of sublimity in the freest and least doctrinaire way - that was typical of Beethoven. In this time of world agony and hopelessness, we love this music and we need it. As despairing as we may be, we cannot listen to the Ninth symphony without emerging changed, enriched, encouraged. And to the man who could give the world so precious a gift as this, no honour can be too great and no celebration joyful enough."
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David Lean
My journey as a film maker began with David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia and Lean's influence on me has been immense. I was privileged to meet David Lean following A Passage to India and to correspond with him until his untimely death, whilst working on Nostromo. Lean was desperate to make Nostromo and I believe it would have been one of cinema's greatest masterpieces.
When my life is taken over with shooting schedules and our house looks like a film studio, I curse the day I entered that Odeon cinema in Norwich. But when I experience the joy of completing a film, I owe David Lean - and Lawrence of Arabia - a great deal more than words can ever express.

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Franco Zeffirelli
If it was Lawrence of Arabia which ignited my passion for cinema, it was Franco Zeffirelli's film of Romeo and Juliet which cemented my lifelong love of cinema. Released in 1968, the film coincided with my studying Shakespeare's play for my English literature school certificate examination. I was spellbound by the beauty and power of this extraordinary film, and especially impressed by the way Zeffirelli made the story relevant to young people today. His next film Brother Sun, Sister Moon, the story of St Francis of Assisi, was very special to me and remains one of my all time favourite films.
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Steven Spielberg
From my first experience of Steven Spielberg's work - Duel at the Edinburgh Film Festival whilst I was a medical student in Dundee - I have been in awe of Spielberg as brilliant film maker, pushing the boundaries of creative cinema in new directions. I have been privileged to attend three Spielberg premieres, Empire of the Sun, Always and Back to the Future Part 3.
The Color Purple
and Schindler's List both had a profound impact on me. I believe Spielberg to be the greatest living film director.
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Charles Dickens
As a child, a feature of our Sunday teatime was the classic serial on television. I remember watching a serialization of Oliver Twist and being violently sick after watching the murder of Nancy. My mother comforted me saying Dickens only wrote about such repulsive things because he wanted to make the world a better place. That statement encapsulates everything I feel about Charles Dickens. Dickens saw joy and hope in the most desperate and degrading situations. Charles Dickens changed the world with words; as a film maker, how I would love to change the world with pictures!
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John Eliot Gardiner
My introduction to John Eliot Gardiner came with his wonderful recordings of the Beethoven symphonies, played on period instruments by his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. To hear the symphonies as Beethoven intended and appreciate how they would have sounded in his day was a revelation, a complete rediscovery of these iconic works.
But it is the spiritual quality with which Gardiner imbues his work which has so influenced me. During his millennium Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, Gardiner talked about God's grace in performance, words I have never forgotten.
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Steve Jobs
Visionary leader Steve Jobs is zealous that new technology will make our lives better and bring positive gains for humanity. Apple is at the cutting edge of the technological revolution and its impact on everyday life. In my own field, in my medical practice, I utilize iPhone and iPad applications for diagnosis, diagnostic imaging, recording and eMedical textbooks and online research, to mention but a few.
With Final Cut Pro, Apple has revolutionized the opportunities for the independent film maker. We are now able to edit with the same facilities as the commercial cinema. Perhaps even more significant, with iMovie pre-installed on every Apple computer, the possibilities of creative cinema are now available to everyone.
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Peter Jackson
New Zealand legend Peter Jackson is an inspiration and a great influence on me as a film maker in recent years. The director of The Lord of the Rings, King Kong and The Lovely Bones, Peter Jackson pushes the boundaries of creative cinema to ever new and higher levels. Like so many of us, Peter Jackson started making movies as a child using a Super 8 home movie camera and animating on the kitchen table. Peter Jackson has never lost that true love of movie making and it shows in every frame of his films.
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Daniel Barenboim
I believe Daniel Barenboim's vision with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra to be one of the most genuinely inspiring initiatives of our time. The West-Eastern Divan is a youth orchestra based in Sevilla, Spain, consisting of musicians from countries in the Middle East, of Egyptian, Iranian, Israeli, Jordanian, Lebanese, Palestinian, and Syrian background. The aim of the West-Eastern Divan is to promote understanding between Israelis and Palestinians and pave the way for a peaceful and fair solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Yes, art can change the world.