Readers of the book are often intrigued to know what I think of the film. They are curious, in part, because authors often don’t like the films that are made of their books. There are many tales of disappointment, resentment and even bitterness to be heard. Boring though it may be, therefore, I am glad to be able to say that I think that Richard Roxburgh, the director, made a film of heartrending power and delicate beauty, with fine—sometimes superb—performances from the cast. It is beautifully shot and directed with eloquent restraint. I admire Richard’s integrity in refusing to flatter his audience or to look over his shoulder at how critics might review it. The integrity of the film also owes a lot to the producers Robert Connolly and John Maynard and to the screenwriter, Nick Drake, a fine English poet born of Czech and English parents. Because I thought of the book as a tragic poem rather than a biography, I always wanted the screenwriter to be a poet with a European sensibility. It took a long time, with many disappointments, to find Nick. His screenplay, together with the cinematography of Geoffrey Simpson, ensured that the film is visual and dramatic poetry.
When my wife, Yael, and I first saw it in a rough cut with only one of the producers, John Maynard, in the theatre with us, we cried almost throughout. After the screening, we drove for almost two hours from Melbourne to our house in the country where we met up with John and his son Billy. Yael and I spoke not a word to each other on that drive and we found it hard to converse with John and Billy over dinner