The Richard Burton Diaries -2012- (Documentary)

The Richard Burton Diaries -2012- (Documentary)

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Ernest ylang-ylang in imagine in half an hour on bbc1 whales first we reveal the previously private thoughts of the superstar superstar the Richard Burton Diaries he was the most charismatic actor of the last century the boy from South Wales conquered the London stage scaled the heights of Hollywood and married the world's most beautiful woman now private Diaries he wrote at the peak of his fame reveal Richard Burton in his own words his personality comes through just
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exactly as I knew it his dangerous explosive quite often uncontrolled the Diaries explode all over the globe just as Richard did they are rich he was the miners son who made his name playing kings and princes the Richard Burton Diaries now published in their entirety for the first time takers on an epic journey from the village of Ponte de Ven to worldwide notoriety and
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superstardom they're an intimate portrait of how far but moved from his Welsh past and how he never abandoned it at all I read you know what to say about my race I'm so proud of them and I loved the worse with the passion that's almost idolatrous particularly in the south world show the people I know best in particularly the mining Club but Burton transcends boundaries the Diaries give us unrivaled access to the many worlds
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he moved in and to the man behind the myth his public romance with Elizabeth Taylor comes into sharp focus but so does his private passion not acting but literature and the life of the mind now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York and all the clouds that lowered about our house in the deep bosom of the ocean buried he didn't great acting very highly he loved writers he liked to read and he wanted to he
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himself wanted to write and he's done it in his Diaries his diaries were his real legacy the diary originals are held at the Richard Burton archive in Swansea University donated by Burton's Widow Sally there not a continuous record the bulk of the Diaries cover the years 1965 to 1972 when Richard is married to Elizabeth and relatively settled the Diaries show us that this was a genuine marriage there was real love between the two of them Richard certainly pours out
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his love his admiration for Elizabeth on the pages yes there are frustrations you know there are considerable rouse tantrums rifts and tensions that build within the relationship but nevertheless that urge that he has you know debate Elizabeth comes through fairly regularly Burton sense of excitement and sheer erotic rupture shines out in the writing I have been inordinately lucky all my life but the greatest luck of all has
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been Elizabeth she has turned me into a modern man but not a prig she is a wildly exciting lover mistress she is shy and witty she is nobody's fool she is a brilliant actress she is beautiful beyond the dreams of pornography their real-life affair fueled an on-screen chemistry that made their performances electric but I will never be free of you she was
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some sort of Cleopatra figure he'd never met anybody like her more than anything else she was exotic so I think she enraptured him really he was passionate about Ellen sexually they were a match plainly plainly because I'd although I don't think all the time but I think for a lot of the time he was totally faithful to Elizabeth because I think he was satisfied he plainly hadn't been faithful to his first wife Sybil with
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whom he had two daughters before Taylor there were numerous other sexual conquests including a long affair with the actress Claire Bloom the loyalty on Sybil's part was unmatchable he was a bad bad boy sexually I used to think there was a great deal of guilt in him about Sybil but I'm not sure that there was reading the diaries he sometimes quite cool about Sybil and quite hard
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about her she adored him and that he then loved another more than he loved her was that destroyed her he became so obsessed with Elizabeth once he confessed to her that he loved her and wanted her she then applied the rules and the handcuffs Richard was already living as a tax exile in Switzerland but the Burton Taylor partnership took extravagance to
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new heights they had a luxurious yacht buckle yzma and homes in Europe Mexico and California he bought her a private jet called Elizabeth the new mrs. Burton also had a certain weakness for Jules in the sixties they were bigger than the Beatles they were part of the sixties liberation there was there was the beach wasn't better switch in Elizabeth day doing what the hell I wanted he really didn't give it out I
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knew as mad as a bat which is deeply attractive and a show-off I mean fancy bidding for the most expensive diamond in the world from a telephone box in a pub but he did and II knew that Elizabeth was in the bar the next room like that when he did he get it is he gonna beat the Maharaja of course he's gonna beat the Maharaja because he just wanted to do it some of those things that he pursued were innate in his nature to begin with he wanted hugs from his background although he
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loved his background he wanted power he wanted riches undoubtedly it fulfilled part of his dream after all the fundamental basis of being an actor is simply to make money there are the like being famous I rather like being given the best seat in the play best seat in the restaurant Aristotle
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Onassis Princess Grace of Monaco that the Kennedy family pop up in the Diaries the Rothschilds so there is a sense in which Richard is enjoying being part of that world you know he was aware this was a very unusual place for a minor son from Pont read event to be and also perhaps he had a sense that it wouldn't necessarily last forever the awareness that he was lucky and could have been living a very different life is threaded through the Diaries his generosity
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toward his family was perhaps a recognition of the tightrope he'd walked is not my province I give it away give it my family or tie by enormous presence for Elizabeth Taylor or did the fact that I was able to take care of a certain amount of people has given me some pleasure the fact that I had the power to do it from this first amount of money
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I think that he made on the robe which was his first big major Hollywood film he came home and then bought every one of his brothers and sisters a house you know to make sure none of them needed to rents or to have a mortgage and of course he looked after them all through their lives I mean you know mommy used to say oh the check will be coming now in August the one would come in August and one would come at Christmas time generous of spirit and generous with his money money didn't mean that much to him
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he had it so he spent it his success was responsible for elevating our family out of the working class into the middle class and giving us a much better chance in life burdened himself was now in the international superstar class he enjoyed the high life but was keen to share it - it was his joy to invite the whole family up to the Dorchester I mean you know to places they'd never been before
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to go to Elizabeth's 40th birthday party in Budapest I mean how fantastic was that you know and sitting down at a table with Princess Grace I mean you know what dreams are made of Burton and Taylor were a business partnership choosing scripts that exploited their fame as a couple some of the films they made together were run-of-the-mill others like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf were huge critical and artistic successes I think you gathered that film
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he subsumed his own part because she didn't want to do it wasn't her wasn't in her range she knew that she told him that Sheila dyrus but he he teased her into it he said well son is gonna do it they're gonna go and Oscar I suppose I just know it'll be you if you don't do it you can sit around with a gin running out of your mouth you can humiliate me you can tear me to pieces all night that's perfectly okay that's all right you can stand it I can't stand it you can stand it you married me for it that's a
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desperate is supply don't you know it even yet he's always hitting up she starts a sentence and he hit comes in he makes her go under orders it makes her angry really angry not as an actress angry she's pissed off with him getting in her way it makes her really good and that god of the Oscar in that scene where she hits him she really hits him it completely unprofessional is sick
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Oh oh boy you really are having a field day aren't you in return Burton acknowledged his debt to Taylor you know she knows a great deal about film acting and she persuaded me that I mustn't pretend that film acting is just a a means of filling in time between stage performances and indeed made me work at it which I never done Hallie nonfarm
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calling to say that the new car coming to the world this morning and next year they are building a new chimney when he started his early films he was staging and it wasn't rarely until he was with Elizabeth I think that she said to him don't just do it all the time just think it just feel it don't forget that in close-up you're over 40 foot high and he'd learned to do that not always because the the fury and the power would
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burst out of him sometimes as he bursts out in the dairies and spoil what was building into a marvelously subtle performance the Hollywood publicity machine made the most of the Burton Taylor brand encouraging audiences to believe that by watching the movies they were also peering into the marriage some parallels aren't lost on their closest friends I saw them at their best together when they were making Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and rich flew
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me out and I had a wonderful time now with them watching the filming during that then coming out at night when all their rancor was expended in the filming so they were sweetness and light but I did on other occasions see petty tempestuous bickering which I hated when she was firing on all cylinders I thought it well got rough Burtonsville could give as good as
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he got his own melancholy and anger which directors had used to draw out some of his best screen performances were never far from the surface even in the 1950s one critic had noticed a curdled quality in him it's there in the remorseful and self lacerating tone in parts of the Diaries yesterday was another terrible day insulting Elizabeth drunk periodically excusing myself rather shabbily and then starting the
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rough treatment all over again sometimes I am so much my father's son that I give myself the occasional creeps he had the same gift for damaging with the tongue he had the same with temporary violence the writing is shot through with Burton's insight and self-knowledge about his darker side he wasn't a nasty man but he got drunk a lot he did have a turn on him you know when he got angry he would say something and it would be vitriolic and it would be incisive and
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it would just cut your legs off Richard's mood wasn't helped by Elizabeth's large entourage a constant presence in their marriage it just became an even bigger struggle for him to hang on to the center of who he was and because Elizabeth wasn't real I mean to me to this day she's not real she stood an icon chooser a Hollywood mega superstar and Richard somehow married into that I walked past pictures of
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Elizabeth Taylor remember him oh there was one time in my life that she was my auntie and that's madness you know no I think my life was changed by a woman you know was called Elizabeth Terra I'm not entirely sure what exactly she did to me and but certainly I think she was bad for him in the some of things and I think in a way
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she destroyed him mind you I think he probably would have gone on to destroy himself without Elizabeth's influence alas to the end Richard himself was always generous about Elizabeth I suppose you know thirteen years of such intensity with two people living together who adored each other as much as we did it's it's at such a continual seething
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boiling point that eventually it spills over but there is no rancor no animosity on either side by the early 70s younger actors had supplanted Burton and Taylor's Hollywood's biggest stars in 1972 came the death of Ivor Richards beloved older brother Ivor a former coal miner had broken his neck in a fall at Burton's home in Switzerland and become a quadriplegic Ivor was his hero you know that the guy he looked up to his
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second father if you like if you couple the grief of Ivor's accident which he felt responsible for with his natural melancholia then you've got you got a recipe for disaster and it happened at a time when he was drinking and I think it I think it really hit him hard 1973 and 1974 were among the darkest times in
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his life he and Taylor separated then divorced his drinking was out of control there was a second or two I think perhaps about a year ago when I didn't fancy much staying alive you can of course drink yourself to death mm nice fitted rather Pleasant it's better than falling on the soul that's for sure yeah
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well is that what you tried to do to drink yourself to death I had a go yeah did you know I was up to about two and a half to three bottles of the hard liquor a day the diary Peters out in 1972 and doesn't resume till 1975 the year of Burton's short-lived second marriage to Taylor Richard tended to keep his diary when he was relatively happy when he goes into this dramatic they would spiral in 1972-73 he's not comfortable with who he is my
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sense is that he could not bear to keep a diary during that period he couldn't come to terms with writing about his life as it began to disintegrate just--how disillusion he'd become is painfully apparent in an interview he gave the movie critic Barry Norman while filming in Milan in 1974 I'm afraid I'm an actor I don't want to be an actor but however I am I think I'm
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reasonably intelligent clever good kind sweet nasty gifted oh no no no no gifted I have a cigarette by all means yes do you enjoy this superstar status the tremendous celebrity the fact that you
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can't move without being mobbed and dude you really enjoyed that kind of life if it stops I'm dead time and again in the Diaries he's scathing about the film business and disdainful of his own profession acting on stage or films apart from one or two high moments of nervous excitement is sheer drudgery if I retired from acting professionally tomorrow I would never appear in the local amateur dramatics society for the
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sheer love of it this was a revelation to Nathan degree to which he loved and despised acting I hate them to tears oh I hate it oh how boring it is already love it being an actor his death he was accused of wasting his talent on a string of lucrative but mediocre films but what really got under his skin was the idea that the stage was superior to movies or TV and that he'd squandered his destiny as a great classical actor
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the theatrical establishment hello he's gone into films he's betrayed his great talent and he also does nonsense he thought that acting was acting after shall we say ten weeks of playing Hamlet on the stage one soul studies with tedium and one's mind rejects the series of quotations that Hamlet now is has there ever been a more boring speech after 400 years of constant repetition than to be or not to be the burden of
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the Diaries is a man yearning to live other lives if I hadn't formed the lure of tinsel and paint and so on I might have made a very nippy their wing forward for Wales I would rather a plate for Wales and play Hamlet he wasn't devoted to making great art a fellow actor said of him he was concerned with the Odyssey that was Richard Burton that Odyssey had brought him as a young man to Oxford University on a short course as an RAF cadet
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studying English literature he was enchanted and in 1966 he returned with Elizabeth to star in a student production of dr. Foster's the only play he said I don't have to work on I am forced us the clock will strike the devil will come who Foster's must be dead why critics thought he'd found the perfect metaphor to beat him with the
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ovary sure who'd squandered his gifts and sold his soul to the devil you must at some time Richard Burton have faced the the question of whether you should have continued as a an imposing and even in the view of many people great stage actor or moved into the world of films which is more commercially rewarding but perhaps not so rewarding artistically do you ever regret having moved into the commercial cinema Oh excu that makes me so angry because he has not left the
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stage what's absolutely rubbish last year he just got through doing a thing here for Oxford on the stage you said the exact phrase that I knew you were working up to sold out and it offends me to my soul if Burton is offended he doesn't show it already barely into his 40s he's thinking of leaving acting behind and striking out in a new direction I would have to make a choice that is whether to continue acting or whether to
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not act and do something else that I have in mind which I'd rather not reveal but um simply it seems to me to continue acting into the or seventy-years-old learning other people's words and trotting them out all the time is faintly undignified that new direction shines through like a golden thread in the Diaries it's a career as a writer and perhaps an academic besides Elizabeth the great passion in his life was the English language the
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library at his home Lea Geneva was a monument to his lifelong love affair with books while I was with him in vada gallon sell anywhere he had his house he used to get up at five o'clock in the morning and read and I would then go and join him up in the library and then he quote from something he would you do this he go to begin at the beginning and he'd recite from John Thomas we were sitting in the Dorchester one night and
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he had the complete works of Shakespeare there and he said to me Shawny said open it to any page and just give me the first line and we spent the whole evening I was fascinated with this because I'd read the first line and he would continue and page after page of it tremendous memory the compact edition of the Oxford English Dictionary was the best they present Elizabeth ever gave him burden writes in the diaries he's always learning new languages practicing his
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grammar is updating his vocabulary and he reads you know voraciously its history biography current affairs sport crime writing novels poetry and not just reading books but then feeding in to his diary writing lines from Shakespeare Jared Manley Hopkins Dylan Thomas Allen Lewis you know it's it's speckled throughout the Diaries that kind of engagement with literature he talks
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about wanting to be a writer wanting to be a dawn I think I made a great mistake in becoming an actor because I think my real a desire would have been to be a scholar at Oxford University that my new turned infinitesimal scholarship it seems to me is the idea of perfection despite all the acting plaudits and the CBE he
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writes in the diary that a deal it is the only honor he really covets he's thrilled when he's invited to spend a term as a dawn teaching it's in Peters College Oxford I am very excited I am thrilled by the English language as I am by a lovely woman no dreams greens dreams and deep as death Christ I'm off and running and will lecture them until I am become intimate ER comes out of their nostrils Burton's heroes were writers and scholars he gained fame for speaking the
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words of others more than anything he longed to find his own voice to earn posterity not as an actor but as a writer I wanted to write because I sought for some kind of permanence a cover bound shot at immortality and not a rapidly dating film and acting to match but while Burton the actor exude self-confidence Burton the writer is crippled by self-doubt it's a theme in the Diaries and throughout his writing
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life in a radio interview in 1982 he laments the shortcomings of a piece he wrote on the tragic death of his brother Ivor I thought how can I made it sound so boring because I was so intensely occupied with the entire thing I mean to die that kind of death for such a brutally magnificent man was unkind and unjust and terrible but I wrote about it so ignoble that I'm rather ashamed of it Burton died in 1984 aged 58 the book he
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dreamed of writing had not appeared he wanted a major work of writing and I felt when he died hasn't done it this is awful what stopped him doing it the booze the busyness them women all the rest of it but I think in fact now the Diaries expose one of the most extraordinary people of our century most compelling of all is the tension between the public and private faces of Richard Burton time after time in the
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Diaries he is again the Richard Jenkins who went to Chapel three times on Sunday and savored the power of hymns and sermons I have a record on of 5000 Welsh voices singing my desh aidid bah bah enough to drive you daft with nostalgia I need you every hour oh yes boys the dead stand up in rows before my bloodshot eyes so did all sort saude each sought grief sawed Uranus God
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in dem nor a will or gal variable in his diaries will be as lasting as some of his best films and best readings if you carved say 5060 percent out of that you'll have something that'll very much hang around for a long time and that's the most you note for his writer you don't have to read many pages to realize that what he longs for his writing and to leave that as his Testament the most important thing to me is that in fact he
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has written um a totally magical portrait of himself knowing him as well as I did this is the rich that I knew and vastly enriched by what he's written in what I think is a major work and I think it will last death be not proud though some have called thee mighty and
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dreadful for the art not so for those whom thou think'st artists overthrow die not poor death nor yet canst thou kill me one short sleep past we wake eternally and death should be normal death thou shalt die you can see more exclusive archived clips of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor at BBC code at UK slash Wales how
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do you feel our movie chops come up

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