Don McCullin: Unreasonable Behaviour rewarded

Posted on by Bill Palmer

As a photographer I have my favourites and my "heroes".  As a child of the '60s I was exposed to the horrors of the Vietnam war on the TV and through the colour supplements, particularly the Sunday Times. It's hardly surprising therefore that I was particularly impressed by the work of the war photographers that brought that tragic conflict into focus: Philip Jones Griffiths, Larry Burrows, Tim Page and Don McCullin to name a few.  

Don McCullin (Wiki Commons)

In later years I read many of their stories and autobiographies from that time. I can particularly recommend Tim Page's "Page after Page" and "Derailed in Uncle Ho's Victory Garden" which both tell of his introduction into the craft of photojournalism and his life thereafter including his partnership with, and then years-long search for his partner Sean Flynn, the son of Errol Flynn who went MIA towards the end of the conflict.  

But the man whose images have stood the test of time better than most and who has had the greatest impact on me and many others is Don McCullin. I was therefore very pleased to learn this morning that Tom Hardy is reported to have signed up to play him in a screen adaptation of his autobiography, "Unreasonable Behaviour", to be made by Working Title films

 Tom Hardy (Wiki Commons)

Tom Hardy (Wiki Commons)

Hardy is a good choice, I feel. Some will know him as the character Bane from the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises".  Others will remember him as Charles Bronson in the eponymously named "Bronson", or even as Mad Max in the recent remake. Hardy has made his name playing villainous characters. He is excellent as the Kray twins in "Legend", earning an Oscar nomination playing opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Revenant" and most recently on TV reprising his searing role as the Jewish gang leader Alfie Solomons in series 3 of "Peaky Blinders".

So how will a man who has depicted so many larger than life bad guys on the large and small screen take to portraying a gentler and more creative soul? Very well, I think. All Tom Hardy's performances thus far have shown him to be an actor first and a "star" second.  He works hard to get under the skin of his characters and always delivers a convincing performance.  McCullin himself is 80 now, but still a formidable character and is said to be an Executive Producer on the new film so should have a major input to way his story is told.

My own well-thumbed copy of Unreasonable Behaviour

War Photographers on film are nothing new of course.  Highly recommended is Iain Glen's portrayal of Tim Page in "Frankie's House", made in 1992 but still available on DVD.  Time will tell if this biopic is a film to remember but with McCullin on staff and Hardy in the title role I think we have something to look forward to.