Ragtime : a focus on the misunderstood masterpiece of Milos Forman

Launched on January 6, 1982 in France, Ragtime has an advert at the cinema (and DVD/Blu-ray) in the version restored on 20 march 2019. The opportunity to return to the most ignored feature films of the great Milos Forman. When Milos Forman is tackling Ragtime in the late 70’s, the filmmaker is almost at the summit of his glory. A few years ago, he triumphed with Flight above a nest of cuckoo, a huge international success, winning including the Oscars for best film and best director. This time, the director inherits a past project in the hands of Robert Altman (MASH, Nashville). It is the producer Dino De Laurentiis, who wanted to offer him the realization of this adaptation of the best-selling novel by EL Doctorow. The book was a hardcover when it was released in 1975 with more than 200,000 copies sold. This success obviously gives ideas to the producer who breaks his piggy bank to acquire the rights, upon payment of the modest sum of $ 500,000 ! 1989 PATHE PRODUCTION. TIMOTHY BURRILL PRODUCTIONS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Milos Forman in 1989 But why Altman did he not finally realized Ragtime ? At the time, the director and De Laurentiis have been a big conflict after their collaboration on Buffalo Bill and the Indians. The producer has put his grain of salt in the editing room of the film, wanting in particular, the shorten. The nabob, Italian is therefore back on its decision in ousting Robert Altman project Ragtime. Milos Forman is tackling so to stage Ragtime, along with screenwriter Michael Weller, his accomplice in Hair. The work tells a certain story of America through the journey of a middle-class family living in New Rochelle in the State of New York. The father (James Olson), mother (Mary Steenburgen), their young son and the brother of the mother, camped by Brad Dourif. They are going to come to the aid of a young black woman and her baby, abandoned by their father, a pianist and a specialist in ragtime, Coalhouse Walker Jr (Howard E. Rollins Jr). Lost Films / L'Workshop Distribution Howard E. Rollins Jr through the destiny of these different characters, Forman explores themes that are dear to him as the concept of justice, the emancipation of the minorities are oppressed, the class struggle, or the advent of a capitalist deadly. Born in Czechoslovakia in 1932, the filmmaker has seen his father die during the second world war, murdered by the Gestapo. His mother was then deported to the Auschwitz camp. Milos Forman will draw from these tragedies have a strong propensity to put in the scene of the families that are failing, such as Ragtime (The theme was already present in Taking Off, his first american film). His gaze immigrated in the USA and protest movements like the Black Panthers also finds a resonance in the film via the route of the character of Coalhouse Walker Jr. Although he admires his adopted country, which gave him the chance to continue his dream of cinema, Forman does not make it less lucid. He points a finger to the injustices, the racism and violence of a territory as complex and paradoxical. The artist who has known repression and humiliation from an authoritarian regime during his youth in Czechoslovakia, these thematic could not talk to him. Lost Films / L'Workshop Distribution Mary Steenburgen (mother) and James Olson (father), And, in the manner of a monumental fresco, Milos Forman paints a portrait of a country torn, offering a kind of alter ego through the character of Tateh (Mandy Patinkin), immigrant jew becoming a filmmaker. It also crosses some of the great names in american History including the banker JP Morgan, the magician Harry Houdini or the architect Stanford White. The film has the air of once upon a time in America before the hour, calling even that which will be later Deborah in the Sergio Leone film, the sublime Elizabeth McGovern (Evelyn Nesbit). The film will be, unfortunately, a commercial failure and will be totally eclipsed by the triumph of the next film of Forman’s Amadeus. Ragtime brings only 21M$ at the box-US office for a budget of 28M$. It will, however honorably in the Hexagon by bringing 1.2 million viewers. Lost Films / L'Workshop Distribution Elizabeth McGovern (Evelyn Nesbit) The work was also to mark the second collaboration between Forman and Jack Nicholson after Flight above a nest of cuckoo (the actor was meant to be Harry K. Thaw). It was without counting on the agent of the actor who has made it clear to the director that Jack will not sign. Showing of 3 films to come, there was already a lot to see Nicholson in the film ; thus, a 4th film would be really too much. The role will eventually be held by Robert Joy. Forman will be able to get out the huge James Cagney out of retirement, he had more shot for the past 20 years. To conclude, if you are attentive, you will come across a few young actors in their early days, like Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Daniels, Jordan Peele, Fran Drescher, or Frankie Faison. Lost Films / L'Workshop Distribution James Cagney (center) embodies the commissioner Rheinlander Waldo