Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Boorman, John mss., 1940-2014, consist of the papers, memorabilia, and reel–to–reel films of director–writer–producer John Boorman (b. January 18, 1933). Boorman was born in Carshalton, Surrey, England, and attended the Salesian School in Chertsey, Surrey. His experiences growing up during the "London Blitz" in World War II and then at a British army training camp during the Korean War would later be recounted in his most autobiographical films (respectively, Hope and Glory and Queen & Country). Following military service, Boorman became gradually involved in television journalism and documentary filmmaking, and was appointed head of the BBC's Documentary Unit in 1962.

Within a few years, he was offered the opportunity to direct his first full–length feature film: Catch Us If You Can (1965), a musical–comedy starring the Dave Clark Five. Immediately Boorman showed his versatility with his next movie, the influential crime–thriller Point Blank (1967), starring Lee Marvin. Boorman and Marvin collaborated again, this time with the legendary Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune, on the World War II survival drama Hell in the Pacific (1968). Boorman won his first Cannes Film Festival Best Director Award for the Fellini–esque comedy Leo the Last (1970) and had his first major box–office success with the controversial thriller Deliverance (1972), adapted from the novel by James Dickey. Deliverance earned three Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Boorman's other films include: Zardoz (1974), a cult science–fiction fantasy starring Sean Connery; Excalibur (1981), an impassioned retelling of the King Arthur legend; The Emerald Forest (1985), featuring his son, Charley Boorman; Hope and Glory (1987), his second film to receive Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Director (and winner of a Golden Globe Award for Best Musical or Comedy Motion Picture); Where the Heart Is (1990), a comedy co–written by his daughter, Telsche Boorman; The General (1998), a biopic about Irish gangster Martin Cahill, for which Boorman won his second Best Director Award at Cannes; The Tailor of Panama (2001), an adaptation of John le Carré's bestselling novel; and Queen & Country (2014), a sequel to Hope and Glory and his most recent film to date. He also directed two acclaimed short films: I Dreamt I Woke Up (1991), and Two Nudes Bathing (1995).

Boorman won a BAFTA Fellowship in 2004 and a British Film Institute Fellowship in 2014. He has also received a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) and the French Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters medal. He has seven children from two marriages, many of whom have participated in his films. He has lived in Ireland for several years and has been actively involved in the Irish film industry.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Directed by John Boorman; II. Unrealized Projects; III. Telsche Boorman’s Projects; IV. Produced by John Boorman; V. Projections; VI. National Film Studios of Ireland; VII. Journals; VIII. Audio-Visual; IX. Miscellaneous; X. Trophies and Awards; XI. Reel–to–Reel Films.

The "Directed by John Boorman" series includes correspondence, original screenplay drafts, photographs, sketches and storyboards, financial records, realia, and other voluminous production materials for all of Boorman's feature films, as well as short films and documentaries. "Unrealized Projects" contains pre–production materials for films that Boorman was preparing to direct but ultimately never made, including an ambitious adaptation of The Lord of the Rings (three decades before Peter Jackson's version). "Telsche Boorman's Projects" consists of mainly screenplays written by his daughter and frequent collaborator, Telsche Boorman (1957-1997). "Produced by John Boorman" contains materials for films in which Boorman served only as a producer, including Angel (1982), directed by his protégé Neil Jordan. The "Projections" series includes materials for the eponymous film journal co–founded and edited for many years by Boorman. "Miscellaneous" includes personal correspondence spanning several decades, as well as original drafts of Boorman's published diary on the making of The Emerald Forest, titled Money into Light (1985), and his published memoir, Adventures of a Suburban Boy (2003). The "Trophies and Awards" series includes Academy Award Certificates of Nomination for Deliverance, plaques and certificates for Hope and Glory, and a 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Irish Film & Television Academy. "Reel–to–Reel Films" consists of 35mm prints of nearly all of John Boorman's directed films, as well as an original trailer for The Emerald Forest.

An inventory is available.

Acquired: 2016

Collection size: 100,000 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.