By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Robert Redford: The Biography
By Michael Feeney Callan (Simon & Schuster, $39.99, hardcover, 468 pages)
Recognised as the golden boy of Hollywood, Robert Redford is renowned for being an award-winning director, actor and producer, but he has contributed more to entertainment than most ‘stars’ of his calibre.
The businessman, environmentalist, philanthropist and founder of the Sundance Film Festival has travelled a rocky road to Tinseltown, but Michael Feeney Callan strips the veneer to reveal an astonishing, complex man underneath.
Callan—who has also written biographies of Anthony Hopkins, Sean Connery, Julie Christie and Richard Harris—has produced Redford’s memoir after close collaboration with the actor over 13 years.
Using Redford’s correspondence, journals, script notes, personal papers and countless hours of taped interviews, this life story is anything but a modest project.
Broad ground is covered with “patience and belief” as he notes that Redford’s achievement “has always been shadowed by scepticism”.
His stardom, which began in the sixties, was rock solid, and successes like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Way We Were and The Sting had lifted him to iconic status.
In 1981 he won an Academy Award for directing Ordinary People which established an unwavering second strand to his cinema career.
Callan paints a picture of why the voice of independence was so important to Redford and how it prompted what might accurately be described as empire-building in the remotest and unlikeliest of places, the Wasatch Mountains of Utah.
Grasping the obsession that created Sundance necessitates understanding Redford and his journey. This book began out of such an impulse—to better understand the making of this resilient new arts generator in the heartland of America.
The author very quickly learned that contradictions and paradoxes defined Redford.
You don’t have to be a fan or a film buff to read this captivating study of one of our most famous and least understood public figures.
Edition 406, 22 April 2014
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.