PREVIEW: Cemetery Junction

May 16th, 2010 by Graham McMorrow

Cemetery Junction

The men who brought us The Office and Extras (just to name a few laughs) once again got together as writers and directors of Cemetery Junction.  Let’s take a look at the long road that has been the production of what is sure to be, a classic.

The idea of having to grow up is a constant theme in their work and is no different in Cemetery Junction.  In 1970s England, three friends spend their days joking, drinking, fighting and chasing girls. Freddie (Christian Cooke) wants to leave their working-class world but cool, charismatic Bruce (Tom Hughes) and lovable loser Snork (Jack Doolan) are happy with life the way it is. When Freddie gets a new job as a door-to-door salesman and bumps into his old school sweetheart Julie (Felicity Jones), the gang is forced to make choices that will change their lives forever.  The title comes from the name of the Cemetery Junction in the New Town district of the town of Reading, Berkshire where the film takes place.

Cemetery Junction

Jones, Cooke, Hughes, Doolan

Gervais notes, “They work for the building society and they’re having a great time but it’s about them coming of age and having to grow up.” We’re really getting excited. We went down to the Prudential headquarters and got all this old footage so we’re really getting into it.” Cemetery Junction is set in 1973, in Reading, Berkshire, where Gervais grew up. According to him, it is a “coming of age” story that is a cross between The Office and Mad Men.  Other films and music gave influence to the project; in an interview Gervais stated the script was loosely based upon the lyrics of the Bruce Springsteen song “Thunder Road” (song below) and that British New Wave films such as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning were an influence on the film.

The film has been released in the UK to critical acclaim.  No release date has been set for North America (but stay to CoF for that).

Ricky Gervais discusses the Cemetery Junction soundtrack.  The writer/director/producer/failed pop star explains the music choices for his most personal work yet. [source: The Guardian]

Ricky Gervais Stephen Merchant

Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant

Cemetery Junction is probably the most personal of all my work so far. Sure, I worked in an office for 8 years as a middle manager, like that David Brent, then I worked my way up in TV like that Andy Millman, and like most comedians, my stand up is observational. But Cemetery Junction is not only based on my memories of my most formative years but it feeds on the most fundamental things in the making of a man: family, economics, the time and place you happened to be plonked in. Even though the movie is a fiction, the values, themes and characters are based on my memory of growing up in Reading in the early 70′s. The soundtrack had to reflect that. It’s purely coincidence that the songs in the film happen to be some of my favorites.

Five Variants of Dives and Lazerus by Ralph Vaughan Williams
My favorite piece of music in the world. So that’s how the film opens. Strings and harp over English countryside in summer. A perfect coupling. As this film is sort of my love letter to England I wanted to remind people that it is probably the most beautiful country in the world.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZ4bx4r1VeQ[/youtube]

Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting by Elton John
I got permission from Elton John to use this track for the opening credit sequence two years before we started writing the film. I’d always wanted to use the song and it fits the mood and themes of the movie perfectly. Growing up seemed to revolve around saturday nights. You’d worked hard for someone else all week and now it was your time.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iKjMj3_g2c[/youtube]

Amazona by Roxy Music
Stranded was the first album I actually went into town to buy with my own money. I felt like the coolest guy in the world. Amazona is the third track on the album and is used in the movie to enhance the swagger and camaraderie of the three lads.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQQvw3l2vJs[/youtube]

All the Young Dudes by David Bowie
“Don’t wanna stay alive, when you’re 25″. Even though Cemetery Junction is set in a different time, I suppose we were trying to say that the attitude of youth never change. This song sort of became the anthem of the movie. It was written by David Bowie but of course made famous by Mott the Hoople. We used the Bowie version because his vocal gives the song more of an outsider feel.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZqY3hiXJr8[/youtube]

Rain Song by Led Zeppelin
The most expensive thing in the whole movie and worth every penny. This sublime piece of rock n roll majesty soars through the story climax. We planned and cut the last few minutes of the film to the track before we’d even got permission from the band. I basically sent them a begging letter and they said yes. Phew! There was no plan B.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4v-_p5dU34[/youtube]

T Rex, Slade, Bruce Springsteen
There are loads of other great tracks in the movie from Slade, T Rex, The Osmonds, Elvis and Jim Reeves (my mum’s favourite – I knew all his songs off by heart when I was 10), and one very important song that doesn’t feature. Thunder Road by Bruce Sprinsteen was the inspiration behind the main theme of the movie – escape. When we started writing the script our aim was to bring to life one particular lyric- “It’s a town full of losers and we’re pulling out of here to win” I’d like to think we succeeded. You’ll be the judge of that.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYPSZiE0OAs[/youtube]

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3 Responses to “PREVIEW: Cemetery Junction”

  1. The Mayor says:

    Could it be Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus by Ralph Vaughan Williams? Youtube it and see if that is it – the song opens the film. Let me know – I will hunt it down.

  2. Laura Dixon says:

    I would like to know the peice of music used a few times in the film, no words just music. Sounded all acoustic and guitary. Played during a few dramatic scenes I think. Please help! It may have been made especially for the film, but if not I would quite like to try and find it to download. Thank you xx