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Tuesday, January 12, 1999 Published at 12:54 GMT


The battle over Hilary and Jackie

(Picture courtesy of October Films)

The controversial film Hilary and Jackie is in the spotlight once again as its producer speaks out ahead of the movie's UK release.

The film is a warts and all chronicle of the life of the famous "golden girl" cellist Jacqueline De Pre, whose career was cut short by multiple sclerosis.

It has drawn flak from some of those in the music world who knew the cellist personally. Musician Julian Lloyd Webber called it a disgrace to Jackie Du Pre's memory and genius.

But the film's producer, Andy Paterson, has now accused musician Mr Lloyd Webber of stirring up controversy to promote his own work.

Jackie's song

Mr Lloyd Webber has released a piece of music, entitled Jackie's Song, as a tribute to the cellist. It was performed for the first time in London on Monday. Mr Paterson has said his comments are an attempt to exploit the film and boost the album's sales.

The film has received good reviews after its release in the US. Emily Watson has already been nominated for a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Jackie, and it is tipped for inclusion in the Oscar nominations to be announced next month.

A Genius In The Family

It is based on the book A Genius In The Family which was written by the cellist's brother Piers and sister Hilary. It reveals details of the cellist's nervous breakdown and her affair with Hilary's husband.

Mr Lloyd Webber commented: "It's a vicious book. I thought the film would be similar, but in many ways it's worse. There are some shocking scenes.

"If you look at photos of her you can see this radiant smile and this joy she had in making music. But in the film you get this person who appears to be a megalomaniac - selfish, spoilt and who then has an affair with her sister's husband. You don't get any of the radiant musician."

Speaking out

Mr Paterson responded: "He said he had written Jackie's Song as a response to the film, but he hadn't even seen the film when he wrote this. It's quite clear what he's up to.

"He didn't even meet her until she was 33 and five years into her illness, so I just don't understand how he can say he knew her better than her own sister.

"Far from tarnishing her memory we'll enhance it and bring it to a new audience," he said.

Mr Peterson, whose film Restoration won two Oscars for Art Direction and Costume Design, added: "It's about the difference between her public face and the cost of that public face."

The quarrel does not look like it will be settled anytime soon. Mr Lloyd Webber has denied Mr Peterson's claims and said when he wrote his piece of music for Jackie there were no plans for it to be included on a CD.

"What he is saying about me underlines my point that these people have no interest in Jackie Du Pre at all. They're the ones making money out of her - I'm trying to defend her because she's not able to reply," he said.

Hilary and Jackie will be UK cinemas from 15 January 1999.

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