PERFORMANCE: A Photographic Exhibition featuring the work of Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg January 20-February 24, 2007
Opening reception Saturday, January 20, 2007, 7-10 pm Drkrm. Gallery 2121 San Fernando Road Suite 3 Los Angeles, CA 90065 323.223.6867


PERFORMANCE: A Photographic Exhibition
featuring the work of Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg

January 20-February 24, 2007
Opening reception Saturday, January 20, 2007, 7-10 pm

Drkrm. Gallery • 2121 San Fernando Road • Suite 3
Los Angeles, CA 90065 • 323.223.6867 •
how to find us





Performance Reception Photos Video


Promo Video



Performance: about the exhibit


Alien Sex


Donald Cammell: A Life on the Wild Side (FAB Press 2006) by Sam Umland and Rebecca Umland


The Last Interview with Donald Cammell Part 1 Part 2


The Mick Jagger / Cecil Beaton Portraits







“The only performance that makes it...that really makes it...that makes it all the the one that achieves madness." Performance (1970)

The Del Valle Archive and the Drkrm. Gallery are proud to present a collection of rare images from two contemporary masterpieces of cinema created by the late Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg. Performance and The Man Who Fell to Earth. Performance is at once a collaboration by two filmmakers {Donald worked with the actors from his original script while Roeg worked his magic with the camera as well as blocking the scenes} both inexperienced at directing yet, what was referred to at the time as “the worlds most expensive home movie,” has become over the last three decades one of the most influential “cult” films ever made. Performance is not an easy film to comprehend the first time around unless you understand how well it captures the specific time in which it was made. The underbelly of crime in London represented by the Kray brothers, brutal and violent as it was, is morphed half way through the film into a druggy sub-culture represented by The Rolling Stones with the participation of their lead singer Mick Jagger who plays his role of “Turner” with an effete narcissism that seems to channel Brian Jones more or less.

is an overtly intellectual film that is layered with violence visually hallucinogenic wildly experimental as only a film whose influences were Kenneth Anger, William Burroughs and Jorge Luis Borges could be. Many have taken the stunning musical sequence “Memo from Turner” to be the first “rock video.” Yet that honor still belongs to Kenneth Anger and his short films of two decades earlier. However the sequence is groundbreaking in its strong undercurrent of homosexuality. Cammell, a former painter himself, used Francis Bacon for inspiration in creating the final image which serves to connect vice and versa of the two worlds with cunning aplomb.

During the last few years of Donald Cammell’s life we got to know each other and I conducted what was to be his last print interview. We had planned to do a whole hour long career piece on video and I nearly got Donald into the studio. However, the night before we were to shoot he called and cancelled because of his fear of jinxing his then current project with Marlon Brando. My print interview was published a few months after his death. I had been given an opportunity to make negatives of the famous Cecil Beaton on-set portraits of Mick Jagger. These photographs and others given to me over the years by Donald from his early films The Touchables and Duffy, {both films have images that foreshadow what was to come} along with stills from the underrated Demon Seed and my own collection of Performance material, form the core of this exhibit honoring a wildly original talent who left us far to soon.

It is only fitting that we include Nicolas Roeg’s individual masterwork with David Bowie, The Man Who Fell to Earth in this exhibit since both films share common themes of transformative sexuality and the displacement of time. Nicolas Roeg has enjoyed an amazing career since Performance creating such individual projects like the visually stunning Walkabout, Don’t Look Now and Bad Timing. His place is secure as one of the great filmmakers and deserves reappraisal as the unique talent he has always been.

In The Man Who Fell to Earth, David Bowie is the stranger in a strange land and once having seen his performance it is hard to believe they first offered the role to Peter O’Toole. David Bowie was at this stage in his life adjusting to being a superstar and came to the film very wired on coke which suited his character of Thomas Jerome Newton in more ways than one. Bowie, with his “Berlin period” in front of him, was on the verge of great creativity. However it was Candy Clark in the role of Mary Lou that brings the film its pathos and much of its underlying humor. She is nothing short of magnificent and should have won every acting honor that year if not for the fact that, like Performance, the film was taken away from Roeg and recut with more than 40 minutes removed. The film lost not only the fragile performance of Clark, but much of Roeg’s vision was lost as well.

During the film’s early release in Westwood I got to see the “directors cut” for the first and only time until the recent restoration on DVD. A couple of years later I would meet Candy Clark who was still living with Nicolas Roeg in West Hollywood. Roeg was at that time prepping a big budget remake of Flash Gordon. Candy was taken with the dedication with which I was collecting photographs and invited me over to their apartment to select some stills and slides from The Man Who Fell to Earth. The product of this and my on-going search for material from great films is now on display for the first time at the Drkrm Gallery.

David Del Valle
Beverly Hills, December 2006





Donald Cammell thought Mick Jagger to be a more provocative rock star than Elvis Presley because Jagger was willing to experiment with his masculinity. Elvis, although extraordinarily erotic to a generation of young women, never did. What this difference suggests, among other things, is that Mick Jagger’s appeal is not Elvis’s—and never was. Critic Greil Marcus has argued that what Elvis did was to purge the Sunday morning sobriety from folk and country music and to purge the dread from blues; in doing so, he transformed a regional music into a national music, and invented party music. Elvis popularized an amalgam of musical forms and styles into “rock ‘n’ roll,” a black American euphemism for sexual intercourse. What the Rolling Stones did to rock music, some years after Elvis made sex an integral part of its appeal, was to infuse rock with a bohemian theatricality, at first through Brian Jones, who was the first British pop star to cultivate actively a flamboyant, androgynous image. For a time, Brian even found his female double in Anita Pallenberg. Brian Jones and the Stones thus re-introduced into rock music its erotic allure, and hence made it threatening (again).

The cultivated androgyny and transvestitism of 1960s pop stars such as Mick Jagger and David Bowie destabilized and subverted stable categories of the self and sexual identity, which is why as cultural practices they were perceived by some as so threatening and so subversive to genteel, bourgeois culture. By the late 1960s and early 1970s, rock music had become synonymous with decadence. Hence, upon its release in 1970, Performance was either demonized and denounced (by the conservative press) or traduced (by the liberal press). It conformed to neither a conservative nor a liberal simulacrum of the world—nor does it now. The same critical reception greeted The Man Who Fell to Earth upon its release in the United States in 1976. As an alien, Thomas Jerome Newton was similar to the Michael Rennie character (Klaatu, aka “Mr. Carpenter”) in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) by virtue of his possessing advanced technology. He was utterly unlike the Rennie character, however, in that his alien sexuality was foregrounded; it was essential to defining his difference. Moreover, he was possibly a bisexual being as well. Yet in addition to the androgynous figure of David Bowie, there was Candy Clark, no longer the winsome Sandra Dee-like figure she had portrayed in American Graffiti (and nothing, say, like Patricia Neal in Day the Earth Stood Still, either) but a single, unattached girl who liked to party, pretty and with a kind heart, going nowhere, but with a strong work ethic—who dared to have sex with an alien. There has been much emphasis in critical discussion of The Man Who Fell to Earth on David Bowie’s ambiguous sexuality, the effect of which has obscured the extraordinary performance of Candy Clark, who was willing to allow her slow moral corruption, like Dorian Gray’s, to be signaled by her increasingly unattractive, de-glamorized body. Her performance represents one of the great subversions of science fiction cinema by suggesting that not only was she, as a woman, willing to experiment sexually, but eventually leave Thomas Jerome Newton because of sexual incompatibility. The Man Who Fell to Earth actualized, in a rather perverse way, the romance that was repressed in (among other science fiction films) The Day the Earth Stood Still. In addition, while the perceived threat to civil order in these films resided in part because they broke aesthetic taboos, time has also revealed something else that is compelling about them: they are both spiritual allegories, albeit unorthodox ones. The Man Who Fell to Earth enacts the Gnostic, or at least Neo-Platonic, journey of the human soul, fallen to earth, the material and hence evil world, from which it strives to free itself and return home, to heaven. But this is a world of corruption, deception, and betrayal; the devil wears many guises, and the path home is very, very hard to find. (Interestingly, when asked what he thought the allegorical dimension of The Man Who Fell to Earth was, the novel’s author, Walter Tevis, himself an alcoholic, said “alcoholism.”)

Donald Cammell said his goal in making Performance was to make a “transcendent” movie in which death is seen not as an end but as the beginning of a new existence—suggesting the way that Performance is also Neo-Platonic in its underlying (and unorthodox) religious premises. One of Donald Cammell’s favorite films, a film which truly fascinated him, was Jean Cocteau’s Le Sang d’un poète (Blood of a Poet, 1930), in which the poet-martyr, or artist, commits successive suicides in order to find his true form, ultimately achieving immortality, paradoxically, only through death. In Cocteau’s own discussion of the films comprising his “Orphic Trilogy” (Le Sang d’un poete, Orphée, and The Testament of Orpheus) he identified one particular theme that would have strongly appealed to Donald Cammell: “The successive deaths through which a poet must pass before he becomes, in that admirable line from Mallarmé, tel qu’en lui-même enfin l’éternité le change—changed into himself at last by eternity.” The mystery and allure of these films is traced in the provocative images on display here, a testament to the sustained imaginative power of these two remarkable films directed by Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg.

––Sam Umland is the Co-author, with Rebecca Umland, of Donald Cammell: A Life on the Wild Side (FAB Press 2006) and a Professor of English at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.




Interview with Donald Cammell Part 1
by David Del Valle

DANGEROUS TIMES PRODUCE DANGEROUS ART. The cinema of the late 1960’s reflected a wild and dangerous mood that was best crystallized in Performance, a witches’ brew of crime, decadence, and drug-induced hallucinations. This film of “Vice… and Versa” was the work of two directors: Nicolas Roeg supervised the cinematography, while Donald Cammell wrote the screenplay, directed the actors and supervised the editing. It took nearly two years for Warner Bros. To distribute Performance in the United States, where after it immediately assumed cult status throughout the counterculture.

In the wake of Performance, Roeg directed a number of acclaimed motion pictures, while Cammell's appeared to stall. The common assumption that Roeg’s success resulted in feelings of envy and sour grapes is unfounded: no ill feeling existed between the two directors. I emphasize this because, in the interview you are about to read, Cammell makes certain comments tht might be mistaken for a kind of animosity that simply was not in his nature. If they were rivals, it was only as siblings would be. When he heard that VIDEO WATCHDOG was planning to print the following statement about Cammell, Roeg said, “I feel like a part of me has been taken away. He was like a brother.”

Anyone familiar with Cammell’s work habits knew that he liked the collaborative mode and the communal environment of filmmaking. He took everyone’s suggestions, never subscribing to the auteur theory. It wasn’t the way Hollywood pictures are made, but no one ever accused Cammell of making a Hollywood picture. In 1978, when his directorial solo Demon Seed was being produced, Cammell envisioned it as a comedy. He found that the idea that technology would lead to sexual reproduction between woman kind and a machine, hysterically funny. The studio, Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, wasn’t laughing.

Donald Cammell was an extremely bizarre and eccentric artist. His views were very personal and he refused to conform, not in Europe, and certainly not in Hollywood, to what was commercial or politically correct. This previously unpublished interview was conducted in June 1988. At the time, Cammell had just completed White of the Eye (1987), a billiant, mesmerizing odyssey through the mind of a serial killer (David Keith) and his loving wife (Cathy Moriarty). It anticipated films like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and The Silence of the Lambs, and at the same time, went light years beyond them. It was critically acclaimed, even publicly endorsed by Marlon Brando, yet it was too potent and unique a work to attract a popular audience. Ironically, I was trying to get in touch with Donald a couple of weeks before his suicide to urge him to appear at The American Cinematheque for a screening of Performance. However, days before the screening, Donald phoned to beg off. He apologized, saying that it was “bad karma” to look to the past. For him, nostalgia was a waste of time. He lived life in the present tense, preferring to leave the explanations to people like myself. He ended our conversation by saying if he ever consented to another interview, he would give it to me. Well, Donald, it seems to have worked out that way after all. –David Del Valle

Was Duffy your first major screen credit as a writer?
I think so… yes, Duffy must have been. I saw it long ago. It’s based on an adventure that really happened to a mate of mine, or maybe it was all my lovely group-Susie York, James Mason, James Coburn, and Willie (James) Fox. It’s not a serious movie, more of a bon bon, very carefree. Not worth discussing.
James Fox played a far more important role in your next, Performance.
Indeed! It changed his life, mine… everybody connected with it, actually, Performance is a landmark and a swan song for the era of Swinging London, not a success when it came out. Warner Bros. wanted none of it.
To what extent did Warners want it changed?
When they saw my rough cut, they were appalled that Jagger was not onscreen until maybe an hour into the film. So, in a vain attempt to keep it from being shelved permanently, I tried to rescue the work. I mean, I completely re-edited it three times, compressing it more and more. By then, Nick Roeg was completely absorbed in filming Walkabout, so he blissfully wasn’t involved in any of this.
What did Roeg say when he saw the re-edited cut?
He wanted his name removed, because he felt that too many liberties had been taken with the continuity. You have to realize, it was a collaborative effort, yet it was my screenplay, my concept. I directed the actors and Nick did what Nick does best, which is the director of photography.
Did it bother you that Roeg got the lion’s share of credit for Performance?
I don’t really want to discuss Nick, but I will say this: Nick went on to several features on the strength of Performance, and when you realize that the whole project was based on my friendship with Jagger, and the fact that Jagger trusted me, it does aggravate an already open wound. Enough said.
How did you get the idea to combine the gangster world with that of a faded rock star?
Well, in Britain, the underworld was typified by the Krays. The Krays were very macho, very dangerous and rather glamorous. This I saw as sort of a parallel with the rock world and, particularly, The Rolling Stones. Originally, my script was called The Performers because each of the characters is a performer, in one sense or another.
You seem to have a healthy disrespect for Hollywood storytelling.
I have a very healthy disrespect for Hollywood altogether! One of the reasons I think Warners hated the film so much is because it forces an audience to consider the construction of their own fragmented selves, the various aspects of sexuality, which is something people never question. Nick loves to tell the story of one Warner executive who observed, “Even the bath water is dirty in this film,” referring to the menage a trios in Turner’s bath. Nick could only say, “Well the water looks that way because they just took a bath!”
I’ve always been impressed with the film’s opening shots. They seem unrelated at first, a rocket taking off, an overhead view of a Rolls Royce moving through the countryside, a couple making violent love with mirrors. What was you concept here?
It’s to emphasize the sense of transition, of change, of continual mobility. Some of it is subliminal and Nick loved to intercut. (Laughs)
The cinematography seems to me to be from the school of Psychedelic Expressionism.
(Laughs) Well, perhaps the whole film is Psychedelic Expressionism! Yes, I like that very much. Can I use it?
Seriously…I showed John Clark, our art director, several examples of artists like Aubrey Beardsley and Francis Bacon. We deliberately wanted [to reflect] an artist’s vision. Every film I’ve been allowed to make owes a very heavy debt to art because, after all, I’m basically a painter.
The editing technique, in my opinion, was a cross between someone like Alain Resnais and Aram Avakian.
Are you sure you’re not with Cahiers du cinéma? (Laughs) If you mean that seriously, yes. Quite so. It ha s a precision and formality which could be like a Resnais film, and yet it’s very flashy and glamorous in the manner of Avakian. However, that technique is nowadays referred to as “Nicolas Roeg.”
At one point, Turner says, "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.”
The line comes from Nietzsche. Performance is about the trans-valuation of all values. Perhaps the film is Nietzschean in the sense that I believe in living one’s life that way. The film brings the Neanderthal gangster and the effete yellow book world of the rock star into one demonic fusion. The gangster is really more bisexual and in touch with his feminine side; once again, the fragmented self. It’s really a provocative love story. The margin between love and hate is exceedingly narrow and I’ve made an effort to show that, where violence exists, it’s as indicative of love as much as hatred.*
What was Mick Jagger like to work with?
Well, Jagger is Jagger. His life is his art. Turner is Jagger-ish is something Mick really didn’t want to deal with, as he was trying very hard to make that transition from rock star to movie star. At the time, Mick and the Stones had been offered A Clockwork Orange, but Jagger wanted something a bit more solo. Something apart from the Rolling Stones. But Mick is not acting in Performance. That is Mick to the teeth. He even wore the Turner makeup on the street. He tried to look like that for years. The relationship between Mick and Anita (Pallenberg) was real. They became lovers, even though she was Keith Richards’ lady. I’ll never forget Keith Richards’ Rolls Royce parked across the street from the location, keeping an eye on his paramour. Jagger simply took Anita under the house for sex. Keith would come on the set looking for hanky-panky, not realizing that he was standing about three feet above the action!

*Cammell is mistaken here. This celebrated line appears in William Burroughs novel Naked Lunch, where it is atributed to Hassan i Sabbah, the Old Man of the Mountain, leader of the 11th century Ismailli sect known as the Assassins. Turner mentions Hassan in the film and the quote latter served as an epigraph in David Cronenberg's film adaptation of Naked Lunch.

continue to Part 2


Interview with Donald Cammell Part 2
by David Del Valle

What has become of Anita Pallenberg? I read that she was involved in witchcraft and was very overweight.
That’s all rubbish. Anita’s doing just fine. I look in on her whenever I’m on the East Coast. She’s dropped a lof of weight and I think she is writing. Anita is a survivor and a great lady. I love her.
What was James Fox like on the film?
Willie, his nickname, was a great observer and was learning his craft. He had already made some films and fell into this one with great gusto. He literally became a gangster in the name of research. He spent eventings in the company of London’s most notorious thugs, to the extent that he actually frightened people. Now imagine this very macho, violent behaviour being shattered, once again, under Jagger’s influence. It was perhaps a tragedy that Willie became so traumatized by Jagger’s sexuality that he succumbed to it and ultimately quit acting altogether and went to India. It took him forever to snap out of it.
Jagger does make a rather late enterance, a rather grand entrance, like Rita Hayworth in Gilda.
Well, perhaps more like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. That’s how I gave Jagger the line, “Why don’t you go to a hotel?” when Fox tries to rent the flat. It’s the sort of remark an aging bitch would say to a lesser mortal.
At the end of the film, after Chas (Fox) shoots Turner (Jagger) in the head, it’s Jagger that we see leaving the house with his old gangster cronies-presumbably to be murdered by them. You meant to indicate that Chas had absorbed Turner’s persona?
In a sense, yes. I was thinking of Jorge Luis Borges and the Sanish bullfighter El Cordobes, who kisses the bull between the eyes before placing his sword therein. Jagger is very much that bullfighter. In terms of painting, if you look at the “Memo from Turner” number, Jagger’s character has already assumed the Harry Flowers persona (in terms of Chas’ perception). So this further absorption seems natural. The “Memo from Turner” sequence, by the way is probably the first rock video. You may not know it, but I’ve directed several rock videos in the last few years. In point of fact, I did a bit of editing on Gimme Shelter for the Maysles Brothers.
Why did it take you so long to mak another feature?
If you only knew how many unrealized projects are littered between 1970 and Demon Seed, you wouldn't ask. One of those projects that caused a bit of a stir on the Riviera was a “caper” screenplay entitled Avec Avec, which was made much later by my old mate James Coburn. This was the kind of luck I had up until Demon Seed.
What was the Demon Seed experience like for you?
Well, it was a very unhappy experience. It was a pretty frustrationg experience. My personality just does not gel with these studuio people. And MGM was no different than Warner Bros.. was with Performance. I was the reason they got Julie Christie, who was red hot at the time, and an Oscar winner to boot. The front office loved everything until they got their hands on my rough cut. It could hve been a great film, but even though it got bloody repectable notices, it wasn’t my vision. As I’ve said before, I am a painter who happens to make films. But enough of that! Would you mind if we go on the film you just saw, which I’m very proud of.
White of the Eye.
Yes, around 1985, after God knows how many unrealized projects (including one reuniting me with Jagger, believe it or not, which was to be called Ishtar, but don’t get me started on that…) I was prepping this film for EMI, which was shelved when the company got taken over by Cannnon. So as a sort of compensation, I was offered this strange little novel by Margaret Tracy called Mrs. White, which my wife and I adapted into White of the Eye. Basically, her novel explored this woman’s feelings as she discovers that her husband is insane and yet she is completely dominated by him. Well, I rethought all that and decided it was more interesting to have her deeply in love, so that when she discovers he’s a serial killer, she has to make that decision to leave him or confront him and continue to love him. Even to the point where he degenerates into bestiality. It really seemed to be an extremely powerful and moving idea. In fact, in the final reel, I tried to create the sound and fury of madness and take you into a world of transcendent horror.
You certainly made Arizona seem very surreal.
Well, I’m European, and Arizona looks very exotic and a little surreal when I’m confronted by it. The Indians have tremendous karma and glamour. I could easily see Picasso on a reservation. The location was a real trip. My main set piece is a run-down mining town called Globe, which is on the edge of an Apache reservation, where a crumbling civilization has this uneasy coexistence with violence-pagan violence. It had been the second largest copper mine in Arizona and then became this relic, this kind of scarred, extraordinary landscape. I vividly remember shooting the final scene in a kind of stepped, zig-zagged structure, like an inverted Assyrian temple.
Once again, your painter’s eye seems to be at work here.
Well yes, I painted it as best I can, and if art is to be involved at all, you hope that some kind of energy or sincerity will result in some kind of revelation.
I see it as a portrait of a schizophrenic who views the suburban sexuality of his victims as a kind of waste.
That’s your opinion. I didn’t try and diagnose or make a judgement on the reasons for serial murder. I suppose I’m really asking if we really know the people we love. Do we really understand their motives? I mean this bedroom community of Globe, Arizona is full of waste and boredom. The killer has a painter’s eye, which I suppose is mine.
My favorite line in the film occurs when the homicide detective says to his assistant, “Did you ever look at a Picasso, Lucas?” referring to the crime scene as resembling a work of art.This serial killer happens to be a psychotic with an aesthetic imagination. I like the concept of murders being arranged as art. But my favorite line is on the poster art. “The only difference between a hunter and a killer is his prey.”
I heard that White of the Eye was going to receive an X rating, but it received an R. What happened?
What happened was Marlon Brando. He sent a letter to the MPAA, a brilliant letter, analyzing sequences in the film in great detail, and praising it for it originality and artistry. I mean, you wouldn’t have believed this letter! Eventually they passed the film with a couple of nominal cuts. About 90% of what I wanted is on the screen.
That was a beautiful thing for Brando to do.
Brando is a phenomenal human being. And I am pleased to say that he’s going to be my partner on my next film, which he has written. At the moment its called Jericho and I have really good feelings this time around. But let’s not jinx it! You’ll be the first to know when I have something concrete to show. •

Video Watchdog Magazine © 1998 All Rights Reserved




In the late 1980’s, David Del Valle conducted what was to be the last interview with filmmaker/painter/ poet Donald Cammell. Cammell’s career was often marred by studio tampering and misrepresented allegiances. It was Donald’s fervent wish that his most famous and controversial film Performance be remembered as the groundbreaking classic it has become. Luckily, he lived long enough to be lionized by his peers and Performance is now considered to be one of the ten greatest films ever to be made in Great Britain.

Before his death Mr. Cammell loaned Mr. Del Valle one of his most precious possessions: eleven double weight prints of Mick Jagger taken by the legendary Cecil Beaton on the set of Performance. Under the supervision of the late John Kobal, 8 x 10 negatives were created to preserve the integrity and magnificence of these original images.

The Drkrm. gallery will display prints by Master printer John Matkowsky made from these negatives of Beaton’s exotic vision of rock icon Mick Jagger as part of an exhibition of the works of Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg showcasing two seminal works of motion picture history, Performance and The Man Who Fell To Earth







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