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Hare, David (1947-)

Writer, Director

Main image of Hare, David (1947-)

One of England's most respected playwrights, David Hare has also had success as a film and television screenwriter and director. Born in Bexhill, East Sussex, on 5 June 1947, he was educated at Cambridge, and wrote his first play, Slag, in 1970. His television debut, Man Above Men (BBC, 1973) followed soon afterwards. This developed his aesthetic of urgent 'state-of-the-nation' drama, which also featured in such uncompromising plays as Brassneck (BBC, 1975) and Knuckle (PBS, 1975). He made his directorial debut with an adaptation of his own play Licking Hitler (BBC, 1978), which mirrored that year's more significant work, the stage play Plenty in its portrayal of a young woman adrift in the changing situation of WW2. The latter was filmed in 1985, by Fred Schepisi, but lost a great deal of its original resonance and power.

Hare made his big-screen debut when he wrote and directed Wetherby (1985), which has been viewed as either a political allegory about the nature of Thatcherism, or a Pinteresque examination of memory and time. He was helped immeasurably by a fine cast which included Vanessa Redgrave, Judi Dench and Tom Wilkinson. His next film as writer-director, Paris By Night (1988), was less successful, possibly because the political analogies hinted at earlier were now made over-explicit. Yet his identification with strong female protagonists was developed by Charlotte Rampling's fine central performance. Perhaps hurt by its critical reception, Hare aimed for a lighter tone in Strapless (1989), which was damaged by an ill-considered (if, by now, typical) subplot about trade unions.

In the 1990s, Hare's reputation as a dramatist was sealed by his famous trilogy of plays about modern England: Racing Demon, Murmuring Judges and The Absence of War. His film work was more erratic. Although the disappointment of Damage (UK/France, d. Louis Malle, 1992) could not be blamed on his intelligent, tough script, his adaptation of The Secret Rapture (d. Howard Davies, 1993) suffered from over-fidelity to his original play. The most atypical, and amusing, work that he did in this period was to direct an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (US, 1993).

His reputation sky-rocketed with the infamous Nicole Kidman play The Blue Room (1998), adapted from Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde, and led the Daily Telegraph critic to announce that it was 'pure theatrical Viagra'. He was also acclaimed for the play Amy's View (1997), which continued his association with Judi Dench. A more serious note was struck by the monologue Via Dolorosa (2000), an account of his trips to contemporary Israel, which revisited his earlier political themes from the perspective of a sadder, wiser man twenty years later. He returned to screenwriting-for-hire with his Michael Cunningham adaptation The Hours (US, 2002), which saw him nominated for an Oscar.

His next film projects include an adaptation of Jonathan Franzen's bestselling novel The Corrections (US, 2007), and, possibly, Baz Lurhmann's long-gestating Alexander the Great film. Married to the fashion designer Nicole Farhi, Hare has also published memoirs, including Obedience, Struggle and Revolt (2005) and Writing Left-Handed (1991).

Alexander Larman

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