The scene where Tessa (Rachel Weisz) walks through the slum, numerous children ask her "How are you?" and she responds "I'm fine, how are you?" was unscripted. The children are actual children who live in Kibera and not extras.
The character Tessa Quayle, who is played by Rachel Weisz, is based on famous social activist and charity worker Yvette Pierpaoli, who was killed in 1999 with two other social workers when their truck crashed in Albania. The book was written in her memory and the film dedicated to her and other aid workers. The film's dedication shown during the movie's closing credits roll reads: "This film is dedicated to Yvette Pierpaoli and all other aid workers who lived and died giving a damn".
Star Ralph Fiennes held and operated the camera for his Justin Qualye character's point-of-view (POV) shots in the film. Fiennes is billed in the closing credits for "Justin Quayle POV Camera". The Constant Gardener (2005) is Fienne's only ever credit in a cinema movie's camera department for a theatrical feature film [to date, August 2016].
After filming, "The Constant Gardener Trust" was set-up to help the inhabitants of the slums near Nairobi where the crew had been filming. The Wikipedia website states: "The poverty so affected the film crew that they established "The Constant Gardener Trust" to provide basic education to those areas (John le Carré is a patron of the charity)."
The filmmakers installed water tanks, a new bridge and a classroom in Kibera, the slum in which the film was shot. They also built a secondary school in the desert of northern Kenya where the final scenes were photographed.
Marcus Lorbeer (played by Pete Postlethwaite) wears a baseball cap that has a yellow equal sign (=) inside a blue square. This is the logo of Human Rights Campaign, a non-profit organization that lobbies for equal rights based upon sexual orientation and gender identity. It is the largest gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in the United States.
Danish actress Iben Hjejle was originally cast as the German woman Birgit and was signed on. When the film's German financiers discovered that a Dane had been cast as a German, they made sure a German actress, Anneke Kim Sarnau, was cast instead.
First of two filmed adaptations of John le Carré novels to have a score composed by Alberto Iglesias. His second was for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011). Both music scores were Oscar nominated in the Best Music Score category, for the Academy Award for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score.
Producer Simon Channing Williams bought the rights of the book in advance before its release in 2001 with the intention of bringing it to screen. In order to get John le Carré's permission to do so, he wrote a letter to Le Carre's attorney Michael Rudell informing him of the intention and flew to New York on the same day. This is the second time that Le Carre has worked on the screenplay of a film; the first was The Tailor of Panama (2001). To ensure total accuracy, Nairobi-based molecular biologist Bonnie Dunbar was brought in as the film's consultant.
The synopsis of this movie's source novel "The Constant Gardener" (2001) by John le Carré on his personal website reads: "Tessa Quayle has been horribly murdered on the shores of Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya, the birthplace of mankind. Her putative African lover, a doctor with one of the aid agencies, has disappeared. Her husband, Justin, a career diplomat and amateur gardener at the British High Commission in Nairobi, sets out on a personal odyssey in pursuit of the killers and their motive. His quest takes him to the Foreign Office in London, across Europe and Canada and back to Africa, to the very spot where Tessa died."
This motion picture's closing credits dedication states: "This film is dedicated to Yvette Pierpaoli and all other aid workers who lived and died giving a damn". In his original source novel "The Constant Gardener", author John le Carré also wrote a dedication at the end of the book.
Actress Naomie Harris, who plays Miss Eve Moneypenny in the James Bond films, became the sixth major actor who has starred in motion pictures based on works of both John le Carré and 'Ian Fleming (I)', both famous spy novelists. Harris' role as Gail Perkins in Our Kind of Traitor (2016) follows her two previous appearances in Bond movies, in Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015). Pierce Brosnan and Sean Connery are actors who have both previously portrayed James Bond on screen and both have starred in le Carré filmed adaptations, they being The Tailor of Panama (2001) and The Russia House (1990) respectively, the latter which has a title that evokes Fleming's From Russia with Love (1963) which starred Connery as Bond. Of Connery's 007 Bond films, his one unofficial Bond movie, Never Say Never Again (1983), co-starred Klaus Maria Brandauer, who also appeared in The Russia House (1990). Alas, Connery and Brandauer have starred in the same two Bond and le Carré spy movies. Moreover, Harris and Brosnan both appeared in the thriller adventure cinema movie After the Sunset (2004). The first actor to portray an M character in the Bond films, Bernard Lee, was the first actor ever to do both Bond and le Carré. Lee appeared as Patmore in le Carré's classic spy movie The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), which was the first ever filmed adaptation of a le Carré novel. The le Carré adaptation film The Constant Gardener (2005) starred Ralph Fiennes, who played Justin Quayle, and has portrayed the Bond series' new M character Gareth Mallory in both Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015), as has Harris played Eve Moneypenny in the two. Rachel Weisz, the wife of James Bond actor Daniel Craig, previously starred as Tessa Quayle in The Constant Gardener (2005), for which she won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award, with Wiesz and Fiennes playing husband and wife in that movie.
Source author John le Carré included 'The Constant Gardener' as one of his four best novels during an interview on 5 October 2008 on BBC Four. The other best works he selected were 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy', 'The Tailor of Panama', and 'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold'.
This feature film's epilogue written by John le Carré during the closing credits reads: "Nobody in this story, and no outfit or corporation, thank God, is based upon an actual person or outfit in the real world, but I can tell you this, as my journey through the pharmaceutical jungle progressed, I came to realize that, by comparison with the reality, my story was as tame as a holiday postcard - John le Carré." In his original source novel "The Constant Gardner", author John le Carré also wrote an afterword at the end of the book.
The name of the fictional pharmaceutic drug that was manufactured to treat tuberculosis was "Dypraxa". The Wikipedia website states on its "List of Fictional Medicines and Drugs" webpage: "Dypraxa is a drug created by the fictional company KDH Pharmaceuticals. It is being tested on poor Kenyans by another fictional company, ThreeBees, in exchange for free medical treatment. It is intended to treat tuberculosis, or TB, and was created in anticipation of a future TB epidemic."
The picture was nominated for 10 BAFTA Awards, including Best Film and Best Director (Fernando Meirelles. The movie only won the one BAFTA Award which was for Best Editing (for Claire Simpson). Unlike the Academy Awards, English actress Rachel Weisz did not win an acting award equivalent to her Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role. Weisz was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, nominated in the lead actress instead of the supporting actress category. The BAFTA for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role that year was won by actress Reese Witherspoon for Walk the Line (2005). In the same year, Thandie Newton won the BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for Crash (2005).
Two actresses who have won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award worked on the movie. Rachel Weisz won her Oscar for portraying Tessa Quayle in this film whilst African American actress Lupita Nyong'o, who was born to Kenyan parents (the film is predominantly filmed in Kenya), worked on the picture as a production runner, and later won her gold statuette in this category for 12 Years a Slave (2013).
A promotional bookmark for the movie summarized the film's story stating it as being "based on the best-selling novel by John le Carré, and directed by Fernando Meirelles, the Academy Award nominated director of CITY OF GOD [City of God (2002)], comes a gripping new film that sweeps audiences along one man's emotional and global journey to uncover the truth behind a personal loss and a worldwide conspiracy".
Actor Ralph Fiennes said of this movie and his Justin Quayle character's relationship with his wife Tess Quayle (Rachel Weisz): "For me, theirs is a 'retrospective love affair'. There are two equal parts to this movie. On the one hand, it's a political thriller about corporate wrongdoing, malfeasance and manipulation. On the other, it's about the relationship between Justin and Tessa Quayle. Justin's journey traces not only what Tessa was investigating; he's also playing detective about their relationship. This man rediscovers and re-assesses his own relationship with his wife. It's a wonderful part, because he goes from being a reticent nice guy to being someone who is forced to confront some pretty tough truths about the world. I hope that the audience sees him as a kind of Everyman."
Actress Rachel Weisz, who secured the pivotal role of activist Tessa Abbott Quayle, said of this film: "The love story and the political thriller element are completely interlocked - one doesn't happen without the other, and that's the cleverness of both John le Carré's novel and Jeffrey Caine's adaptation. Because of Justin [Ralph Fiennes]'s love for Tessa, he goes on a journey of discovery where he reaches a new level of self-knowledge, but he also discovers a huge political scandal."
Star Ralph Fiennes said of his Justin Quayle green thumb title character: "Justin is a passionate - gardener. There's an internal quietude about gardeners, this sensitivity to watching something live and grow, and caring about how something will flourish and bloom. To me, that was all key to Justin. Why does he marry someone as opinionated and passionate as Tessa [Rachel Weisz]? I think they're drawn to one another because opposites do attract."
The character of Tessa Quayle is drawn from real life. John le Carré dedicated The Constant Gardener to a passionate activist and tireless charity worker named Yvette Pierpaoli. As part of an on-screen dedication in the film's closing credits, he describes her as having "lived and died giving a damn." In 1999, at the age of 60, Yvette Pierpaoli was killed, along with two other aid workers and their driver, in a car crash in Albania. At the time, Yvette was a representative for Refugees International, part of her lifelong commitment to help other people. Thatvocation had been set from the age of 19, when she left her native France for Phnom Penh. It was there that le Carré chanced to meet her, during the mid-1970s. From their first encounter, Yvette used every means at her disposal, whether feminine wile or bullish argument, to win the author over, as he remembers: But it was all for a cause. And the cause, you quickly learned, was an absolutely nonnegotiable, visceral requirement in her to get food and money to the starving, medicines to the sick, shelter for the homeless, papers for the stateless and, just generally, in the most secular, muscular, bAnd though by age, occupation, nationality and birth my Tessa was far removed from Yvette, Tessa's commitment to the poor of Africa, particularly its women, her contempt for protocol and her unswerving, often maddening determination to have her way stemmed quite consciously so far as I was concerned, from Yvette's example. - "The Constant Muse," The Observer, February 25th, 2001 «usinesslike, down-to-earth way you can imagine, perform miracles.
The production notes for the film featured a quote regarding "The World's Biggest Drama". The United Nations emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland / Warren Hoge, in an article entitled "U.N. Relief Director Appeals for Help in Crises Throughout Africa", published in The New York Times on 11th May 2005, stated: "The world's biggest drama is not found in Europe or the Middle East or North America - the world's biggest challenges and dramas are found in Africa."
When independent British film producer Simon Channing Williams read an advance copy of John le Carré's The Constant Gardener in late 2000, he wrote an impassioned letter to the author's lawyer, Michael Rudell. In the letter, the producer pleaded his case for being given the chance to turn the novel into a film. When Rudell replied and suggested a meeting, Channing Williams volunteered to fly from London to New York that same evening. The producer explained: "I wanted to prove to him how serious I was about making it into a movie, because I thought the book was so extraordinary. It delves into the rapaciousness of big business, the abuse of the African peoples, governmental corruption, and at the root of it all, an utterly compelling love story. It was such a heartfelt, angry book, and, sadly, I believe it will remain relevant for many, many years to come."
The 2002 film, which was released in many territories in 2003, "City of God" [City of God (2002)] alerted producer Simon Channing Williams to an exciting new director, Fernando Meirelles, who had successfully visualized, and conveyed, a powerful story from a part of the world most people never get to see.
Source author John le Carré's novel addressed the issue of corporate social responsibility and gigaprofits in one of the world's biggest business sectors, the pharmaceutical industry or BIG PHARMA as its known. In a syndicated article at the time of the novel's publication in 2001, the novelist wrote: "I might have gone for the scandal of spiked tobacco . . . I might have gone for the oil companies . . . but the multinational pharmaceutical world, once I entered it, got me by the throat and wouldn't let go. 'Big Pharma', as it is known, offered everything: the hopes and dreams we have of it; its vast, partly realised potential for good; and its pitch-dark underside, sustained by huge wealth, pathological secrecy, corruption and greed."
As 'City of God' [City of God (2002)] continued to run in theaters, and in the U.S.A. for over a year, director Fernando Meirelles cleared his schedule to seriously research 'The Constant Gardener'. He said: "I'm from Brazil, and over the past several years, we have been making generics, and if you try to make cheap versions of patented medicines, you very quickly learn a lot about the unbelievable power of the drug industry lobby. I've been reading about this for the past few years - on Oxfam's website, for example - and I realized that making a film is a good opportunity to prod them. 'The Constant Gardener' is not so much political but, as a person from a developing country, I understand what happens in one. So I felt I could represent the Kenyans' interests in the movie."
The movie's press kit states: "The behavior and business practices of some pharmaceutical manufacturers have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years prior to the film debuting in 2005, with wider coverage in the media and stronger pressure from numerous consumer watchdogs and interest groups. John le Carré's [source 2001] novel contributed to a greater awareness among the general public of the industry's potential to do harm as well as good."
According to the film's 2005 production notes, "in order to justify their pricing and close guarding of patents, some drug companies repeatedly cite the high costs of the research and development (R&D) and clinical trials they must undertake to bring a new product to the market. Watchdogs counter that drug companies rarely incur these R&D costs themselves, but instead avail themselves of publicly funded research - and then guard the results. Many have voiced doubts about the US $800 million figure that the industry claims is needed to bring a new drug to market, pointing to the disparity between the pharmaceutical manufacturers' R&D and their marketing budgets. The latter, the argument goes, is where the big money is truly allocated."
The film's 2005 production notes state: "In the past two years, we have started to see, for the first time, the beginnings of public resistance to rapacious pricing and other dubious practices of the pharmaceutical industry. It is mainly because of this resistance that drug companies are now blanketing us with public relations messages. And the magic words, repeated over and over like an incantation, are research, innovation . . . But while the rhetoric is stirring, it has very little to do with reality. First, research and development (R&D) is a relatively small part of the budgets of the big drug companies-dwarfed by their vast expenditures on marketing and administration, and smaller even than profits. In fact, year after year, for over two decades, this industry has been far and away the most profitable in the United States. (In 2003, for the first time, the industry lost its first-place position, coming in third, behind "mining, crude oil production," and "commercial banks"). The prices drug companies charge have little relationship to the costs of making the drugs and could be cut dramatically without coming anywhere close to threatening R&D. - Marcia Angell, 'The Truth About Drug Companies,' The New York Review of Books, July 15th, 2004".
According to the film's press kit, "activists accuse some Big Pharma companies of ignoring innovation to develop barely distinguishable "me-too" drugs based on proven "blockbusters", focusing their efforts on what ails the rich Western market - e.g., heart disease, baldness and geriatric impotence - while slighting and outright ignoring the unprofitable, rampant diseases of the developing world. The latter countries are being ravaged by AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, the last-named affecting approximately five hundred million people a year and, by some estimates, killing a child approximately every twenty seconds. While these nascent nations bear an outsize burden of disease, they account for only a tiny fraction of Big Pharma's profits."
The movie's 2005 production notes state: "When all other arguments fail, some spokespeople for the pharmaceutical industry remind that theirs is not a philanthropic enterprise, and that their greatest responsibility is to their shareholders. This, at least, is a point on which the companies and their critics agree; the industry has made hundreds of billions of dollars (in 2002, total sales reached an estimated $430 billion)."
Beginning in 1997, Brazil has been able to successfully reduce its death toll from AIDS by half, defying the pharmaceutical manufacturers and ignoring the threat of trade sanctions to provide low-cost anti-retroviral drugs. The country also fielded an aggressive prevention campaign. Despite the progressive model Brazil has instituted, the efforts in director Fernando Meirelles' native country have not been replicated worldwide. Seconding Meirelles in his passion for the material, producer Simon Channing Williams remarked: "I'm not a political animal. But what we are exploring is happening today, in the world we all live in."
Director Fernando Meirelles studied Brian Woods' and Michael Simkin's U.K. Channel 4 program 'Dying for Drugs' as documentary evidence on the practices of some pharmaceutical companies in the developing world. The Constant Gardener (2005) screenwriter Jeffrey Caine stated: "Most of the research had already been done by [source novelist John] le Carré and is in the book. What isn't in the book was provided by some very well-informed medical contacts and fed to me in small spoonfuls as directed. It's all very well to say, as no doubt some will, 'Big Pharma is too obvious a target'. But evils need to be publicized and to go on being publicized as long as they exist, which is forever."
Star Ralph Fiennes said of Big Pharma: "There are huge questions about Big Pharma. [Director] Fernando [Meirelles] gave me some background material, including [the TV program] 'Dying for Drugs'. The companies are not obliged to disclose a lot of information about how they test or make their drugs. There's big, big money involved in the development, patenting, and marketing of a new drug; there's no question that the pharmaceutical industry has one of the most powerful lobbies in the United States [of America]. I'm sure there are companies out there wanting to produce good, effective drugs at reasonable prices but a lot of people want - and need - to ask tough questions of the industry as a whole."
Star Rachel Weisz said of Big Pharma agreeing with Ralph Fiennes. She noted: "It's David and Goliath; the little people taking on the great big corporations. I believe that pharmaceuticals are second only to oil now; it is a massive business. They make all this money, yet people in developing countries can't afford the drugs that could save their lives."
Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, a molecular biologist and former professor at Houston's Baylor College of Medicine, and who at the time of the movie was made, lived in a suburb of Nairobi in Kenya where the film was partially shot, vouched for accuracies in the film's plot. She commented: "I was quite fascinated by the parallels with things I have experienced in my professional life. The lobbying by the international organizations, as well as the amount of money poured into cover-ups ring true to me. Hopefully the murder aspect of the story is not true-to-life, but when there's big money involved . . . "
Screenwriter Jeffrey Caine said of Big Pharma: "I don't expect The Constant Gardener (2005) to change the conduct of international pharmaceutical companies. It might - best case - draw the attention of audiences to certain widespread practices of Big Pharma and in some small way help create a climate for more responsible behavior. The most important thing for me is that the film should illustrate the nature of commitment."
The production headed to Berlin to shoot scenes involving the watchdog group Hippo Pharma, which becomes a crucial part of Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes's quest to uncover the truth behind his wife. Locations in Berlin included the Lehrter Stadtbanhof, for Justin Quayle's arrival by train in Germany; offices in the Academie der Kunste, standing in for British High Commission offices; the Residenz Hotel, where Justin experiences first-hand the brutal methods that the Dypraxa drug manufacturers will resort to in order to avoid exposure; and the venerable Studio Babelsberg for sound stage filming.
After two weeks filming in Germany, the production moved to London for several days of work. A space at the Tate Modern Gallery, which is located on the South Bank of the River Thames, was used as the lecture hall where Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) first meets Tessa (Rachel Weisz), while St. Mary Magdalene Church in Paddington became the scene of a memorial service. Other London locations included the Liberal Club, standing in for the gentleman's club where Sir Bernard Pellegrin (Bill Nighy) has an illuminating lunch with Justin.
The Liberal Club scene includes screenwriter Jeffrey Caine in "a nifty little cameo as a club porter". Caine said: "I'd been banging on to [director] Fernando [Meirelles] about the actors improvising on my lines, and Fernando had been spreading his hands and saying, 'Actors have to have some space to do this; what can I do?' Then he directs me in a role written with only one line of dialogue and finds me adding lines as I go. He said, 'Now you know what I have to put up with'."
Saving the most significant phase of principal photography for last, this afforded director Fernando Meirelles the visual and storytelling opportunities he had counted on, when the production moved to Kenya in early June 2004, for nearly two months of shooting in Nairobi in Kenya, and other parts of this African country.
The production were able to film in Kenya, Africa due to producer Simon Channing Williams' diplomacy skills liaising with Kenyan government officials. John le Carré's source novel had delineated a deeply corrupt government in Kenya, which led to the book's originally being banned there.
The original banning of the film's source John le Carré novel in Kenya had not prevented Kenyans from bringing in multiple copies from abroad - and circulating them among friends and neighbors. Nor did the novel's criticism of the British diplomatic corps prevent the current, real-life High Commissioner, Edward Clay, from offering his support to the filmmakers.
Actual real-life British diplomatic High Commissioner to Kenya, Edward Clay, assisted the picture's production. "One of our very early visits was to Edward and his deputy Ray Kyles," said producer Simon Channing Williams. "As much as anything else, it was the encouragement and support of the British High Commission that allowed us to convince our backers, insurers, and completion guarantors that Kenya was a viable place for us to film." Director Fernando Meirelles added: "Edward helped us in many ways. Our actors were able to meet people from the High Commission, and went to their houses to see how they live. We had a lunch in London with diplomats working in Kenya. Our feeling, talking to them and being in their offices, was that the High Commission these days is like any other business. It looks like Unilever or Shell; it's really about doing business, and making opportunities for business. Although it's been forty-two years since British rule in Kenya ended, there's still a tie that binds - now mostly for different reasons." Referring to both the original source novel and the screen adaptation, Edward Clay stated: "In the first place, it is a work of art. You don't have to accept that British diplomats are really like this, you don't have to accept that particular pharmaceutical companies in Kenya are the ones the author had in mind. It is a fine love story, wrapped up in a parable that has real power and credibility. But the problems that [John] le Carré describes are potential as well as actual. Kenya is not the only country where he could have set the story, but it was a good setting. It could have been another government; it could have been another industry. But the point about the risks and the temptations of exploitation between the rich and powerful and the poor and vulnerable is very important and very telling." Edward Clay and his staff briefed actors and filmmakers on the political, economic, and social context of Kenya - both as it was when John le Carré wrote his novel, and as it is now, just a few years later. He said: "Africa is not an undifferentiated basket case; there are successes, and some of the countries that used to be on their backs are now doing quite well. Kenya has done relatively badly by comparison over the last twenty years, fundamentally because of problems of governance. I suppose I wanted to make the point that when John le Carré was writing his book, he was writing about a Kenya of a particular era which was a very plausible setting for the story that he wanted to tell. And that now that the film is being made, we're in a Kenya where government and society have decided and voted quite decisively for a change - that Kenya will not be a byword for poor governance and corruption as it used to be."
Actor Danny Huston, cast in the film as the British High Commission's Head of Chancery, Sandy Woodrow, commented: "Modern diplomacy is all about business, and about trying to encourage commercial ventures. I also had a meeting in London with two gentlemen who shall remain nameless, since they worked for [British Secret Service agencies] MI5 and MI6. The more time I spent with them, the more I felt that they actually were like the people portrayed in the book. They have an extraordinary, sometimes spectacular way of not answering a question you ask them."
Producer Simon Channing Williams said in regards to the production's relations with the Kenyan Government:"The final link in the chain allowing us to film in Kenya was the government and at every juncture, our Kenyan production partners, Blue Sky Films, and I were met with great courtesy and understanding. There was a real willingness and commitment to enable us to film there."
Given the subject matter, the Kenyan Government of Kenya proved to be remarkably accommodating to the filmmakers. The Hon. Raphael Tuju, Minister of Information & Communications, stated: "The Constant Gardener is very critical of Kenya, and it was unprecedented that this ministry would support it and license it. But I went ahead and made sure that we did so, because if we didn't support it being filmed here it was still going to be filmed somewhere else, and it would still be critical of Kenya in the past, with respect to issues like corruption."
Director Fernando Meirelles felt that his perspective was different from the outset. Meirelles mused: "John le Carré wrote a story about a developing country and big business from the point of view of a person from the First World. When I read the book, I put myself in the other position. I saw myself in Africa, with the big companies coming in. In some respects, Jeffrey Caine's script tells the story through Kenyan eyes and, as a person from the Third World, I identified more with the Kenyans than with the British."
The movie's scriptwriter Jeffrey Caine, who adapted the source John le Carré novel for the screen, noted: "The Kenyan setting attracted [director] Fernando [Meirelles] to the film, I think. But what he inherited was a story told through British eyes, embedded in a British post-imperial subculture with which he wasn't wholly familiar. Unsurprising, then, that he would want these elements de-emphasized and the African elements given more prominence, without tipping the story out of balance. This I think we achieved."
Producer Simon Channing Williams welcomed the new light that director Fernando Meirelles cast on the film's subject matter. Channing Williams noted: "I feared we might get stuck in a 'middle-class British male' box. When Fernando signed on, suddenly all those middle-class prejudices were thrown out the window. Instead, we were getting an entirely new vision of the world that [John] le Carré wrote about, visualized from a deeply intelligent foreign national's point of view. Fernando's perception is all to do with character as opposed to class. Our British class structure is not important to him; it was great that we could get away from that, and tell the story as seen by 95% of the rest of the world."
Production Designer Mark Tildesley commented on the African shoot in Kenya: "When I first read the book, I thought it was something that described and would appeal to my father's generation. But then we went to these clubs in Nairobi and it's like a time warp, even at the British High Commission. They try to get funky and tell you they ride a bike to work, but then they ring a bell for breakfast and people come in to serve it with white gloves . . . What we really needed to do was to make people have a sense of Africa, and care about Africa in order to understand the story. So it couldn't all be cricket and gin-and-tonics."
Actor Ralph Fiennes and producer Simon Channing Williams recalled filming in Kenya in Africa. Fiennes said: "[Director] Fernando [Meirelles] was very keen to incorporate African footage, the colors and the faces. When I was first told that he was going to direct, what I hoped was that he would make Africa a keystone for the film, and that's just what he did." Meirelles' "Third World Perspective" also ensured that, in addition to the hundreds of extras employed on the shoot, a large proportion of the cast would be African. The film features Kenyan nationals in nearly three dozen speaking roles. Moreover, the British crew was joined by more than seventy Kenyan crew members represented across all departments, in addition to drivers, caterers, location hire staff, and laborers. Channing Williams stated: "All of these people, on both sides of the camera, were there by right; those jobs and roles should have been theirs, and were. There is an amazing well of talent in Kenya and I hope that, in some small way, our presence there might help to alert others to what is on offer."
Although director Fernando Meirelles regarded Kenya as "almost the third principal character in the movie", the filmmakers originally considered shooting most of the Kenyan scenes in South Africa, where there is a thriving film industry and a more established infrastructure. Producer Simon Channing Williams noted: "The idea was for us to come to Kenya to see where the book was set and then go down to South Africa. But I'm delighted to say that, within twenty-four hours of our arrival, Fernando and I both knew that we didn't want to move from Kenya at all. Of course, there were serious problems in terms of insurance, in terms of the perception that Kenya was a very dangerous place to be - which we found not to be the case. We fought long and hard; it was very clear from the outset that Kenya was where we should be."
Mario Zvan, executive producer for the film's Kenyan production partners Blue Sky Films, revealed: "East Africa is very different from South Africa, and [director] Fernando [Meirelles] and [producer] Simon [Channing Williams] understood that immediately. The people look different, the vegetation is different, the light is different, the buildings are different. Shooting this story in South Africa would have been like filming a Boston tale in Miami."
Cinematographer César Charlone, director Fernando Meirelles' friend and collaborator of many years, said: "We were very concerned that this looked real. We were trying to show the truth, to be as faithful as we could be, using real locations and natural light. If a mortuary was lit with fluorescents, we went with fluorescent lighting. It was very important to us not to choose locations because they were more filmic or more beautiful. Then, as we started getting deeper into the project, it was as if we were dealing with two different realities, two different worlds. There was Justin's old world, where he came from, with the British High Commission. As he finds out more about Tessa, she becomes his door into a new world, the real Africa that he had been unable or unwilling to see. We determined that Justin's world (England) would in cool greens, while Tessa's world (Africa) would be in warm reds."
Actor Bill Nighy, who plays Bernard Pellegrin, said of the production shoot after filming: "[Director] Fernando [Meirelles] and [cinematographer] César [Charlone] were determined to present as authentic a view as possible, to try to make something remarkable. I'd worked in Morocco but I'd never been to Kenya or anywhere else in Africa. The sights, sounds, and smells are like nowhere else. It's more than just a backdrop because 'The Constant Gardener' is an African story, dealing with how the West uses the continent as a laboratory."
Star and lead actor Ralph Fiennes said of the movie's filming: "One of the great things about the experience was that we shot in real places in Nairobi. "[Director] Fernando [Meirelles] was very keen to use real people in the background. There isn't a strong film infrastructure in Kenya, so we weren't shooting with professional, practiced extras. The feeling towards the film on the part of the people was very positive; they engaged with something that was happening in their neighborhood. [Producer] Simon [Channing-Williams] and [production house] Blue Sky did an amazing job to make sure that we were not seen, as films coming in are usually seen - a lot of people shouting into walkie-talkies and crashing through a community, ignoring the sensibilities of the people who actually live there. I never felt any resentment or negativity. The sensitivities of the locals were not only acknowledged, they were embraced by the camera so that they felt part of the project." Fiennes added: "The key to creating a character is mostly imagination and when you are in the actual place, it is there for you on a plate. On a subtle level, you're already responding physically and emotionally to the environment."
Emily Mabonga, Kenyan extras casting coordinator, clarified about the film shoot in Kenya: "It's not that we don't have an infrastructure for filming in Kenya; it's more that it had been forgotten." Mbonga found the majority of the white extras through open casting calls among local amateur theater groups. Other extras and background artists were recruited from the professions being portrayed; for example, the members of the press intruding in the funeral sequence were all journalists and photographers working in Kenya.
Star and lead actress Rachel Weisz said of the movie's filming: "Nothing against South Africa, but the Kenyan landscape has a particular spirit and you can't just try to mimic that somewhere else. I can't separate Kenya from the story, or the story from Kenya. What's also important is that we have helped the existing infrastructure, so that more films might shoot there in the future."
Pete Postlethwaite, who appears in a small role late in the film as Dypraxa's elusive creator, Lorbeer, said of the movie and its Kenyan shoot: "You do your work, you read the book, you figure where your character is at. But actually going to Kenya puts it all into focus, like a magnifying glass that you could use to burn your hand."
The first scenes to be filmed in Nairobi in Kenya were at the suburban Lord Errol Restaurant, used as the venue for the British High Commission cocktail party that crystallizes Tessa Quayle's and Dr. Arnold Bluhm's drive to expose the hypocrisy and greed of those in power. The Lord Errol is named for the notorious womanizing aristocrat, whose story was the subject of another film shot in Kenya, White Mischief (1987)".
The unit, after shooting at the Lord Errol Restaurant in Nairobi in Kenya, next filmed at the private Royal Nairobi Club, and at the other end of the spectrum, a city dump near River Road in Nairobi's "combat zone". The dump was a home to a community of down-and-outs, most of them solvent abusers. Glue-sniffing is a big problem among street-dwellers in Nairobi, both adults and small children alike; extending beyond even the sadly recognizable addictive elements, glue fumes are said to stave off hunger.
Additional locations in and around Nairobi, Kenya included the Nairobi City Mortuary, where the scene of Tessa's body being identified was filmed; Langata Cemetery; the Kenyatta Hospital records office; Boskie's aircraft hangar at Wilson Airport; a golf course at the Karen racecourse; and Sandy Woodrow (Danny Huston)'s house in the film is in reality the suburban Nairobi home of the European Commissioner.
A private house in a Nairobi suburb was used as the home of Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) and Tessa Quayle (Rachel Weisz). It belonged to the mother of film's wardrobe supervisor, Elizabeth Glaysher, who grew up there. Her mother, Sonia, had once before worked on a film shot in Kenya; she was Ava Gardner's body double in John Fords Mogambo (1953). Sonia's gardener, Celia Hardy, was the "gardening coach" for Ralph Fiennes. With the exception of some flowering plants added for color and texture by the production design crew, Justin Quayle's on-screen garden was the result of Celia's year-round handiwork.
The weekday vegetable market in the village of Kiambu was used as the location for the Three Bees Mobile Clinic, where Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) finds Kioko, brother of Dypraxa casualty Wanza Kilulu. Kioko was played by then 16-year-old student Donald Apiyo, who was picked up from his boarding school and driven to the set on each shooting day. Although mothers and babies lining up to receive "free testing and treatment" at the Three Bees Clinic were hired as extras and background artists, the hundreds of customers and vendors in the scene are the real people of Kiambu, going about their daily business.
At the end of the shooting day in the Kiambu market, director Fernando Meirelles noticed that a crowd of school children had gathered behind a barricade blocking off the set. He approached them and called out, "Okay, who wants to be in a movie?"All hands went up, but only a dozen children were selected to run up the road, as cinematographer César Charlone captured the scene from the bed of a pickup truck. Knowing that there was some disappointment among the other children, Meirelles returned to the horde of kids and shouted, "Okay, everybody!". The barricade was lifted, and a stampede of school kids engulfed the crew. The amount of dust raised precluded this latter shot from appearing in the finished film; it was one of the few spontaneous moments that couldn't stay in. In addition to shooting whenever the spirit moved them and wherever they could, Charlone would occasionally hand a lightweight camera to actor Ralph Fiennes to shoot, for example, Justin's POV of a plant in a nursery or of his household staff offering their condolences after Tessa's murder. Producer Simon Channing Williams dubbed the method "the 'if it moves, shoot it!' philosophy. You know, the focus-pullers had one of the hardest tasks on this film and, incredibly, nine times out of ten, they would get it perfectly."
Actor Donald Sumpter, who plays the secretive Tim Donohue, said: "With [director] Fernando [Meirelles], nothing is rigidly choreographed. You get people buzzing around, and actually going in and out of focus. You get real impressions of things, which is fantastic."
"[Director] Fernando [Meirelles] and [cinematographer] César [Charlone] have a very low level of bureaucracy around them," said actress Rachel Weisz. "Things happened very fast on set! César would just move the camera and hang a light bulb. It was as if we were a small documentary crew filming on location, and it allowed for things to be very organic and spontaneous; it felt like reportage, or guerrilla filmmaking."
Actor Danny Huston, who speaks from past experience as a film director himself, said of the movie's director's filming methods: "It was a delightful way to work. Film stock is so sensitive these days that you don't have to use so many lights, and you don't have to hit your mark every time. This wasn't a Hollywood film where you needed your backlight, a key light, and a little click in your eyes to make sure you looked absolutely glamorous. The story our film tells needed reality."
The Kiambu Police Chief's office was used for the police station sequence where Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) is taken in for questioning. Detective Inspector Deasey, who arrives at the scene, was portrayed by Ben Parker, a real-life press officer at the U.N. in Nairobi, Kenya.
The village of Kiambu in Kenya, Africa also hosted the scene of the improvised toll that Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) pays to some enterprising street kids. The toll-takers were played by reformed street kids who now reside in a rehabilitation center outside Nairobi. The kids' lunchtime talk centered on the equitable distribution of the fee they'd received from the production for their day's work; at last report, they seemed to have settled on new shoes and socks for all of the boys at the center, and possibly a soccer ball and a television set. The boys' chaperone happened to be Joe Cottrell Boyce, the teenaged son of wellknown British screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce, who had taken a year off from his studies to do volunteer work in Kenya.
The movie filmed in Kenya and its slum region Kibera. Press notes for the film stated that poverty in Kenya averaged 56%, which means that fifteen million people live on about $00.80 a day. Kibera residents live on even less than that. Hundreds of people walk along the road to the slum at the beginning and end of every workday they are going to and from work so as not to pay a $00.30 for bus fare.
The movie partially filmed in Kibera in Kenya. The word "kibera" means "forest" in the language of the Nubian mercenaries who originally settled the area after being demobilized from the armies of British East Africa. Gradually, more and more itinerant laborers made Kibera their home, many of them with the intention of saving enough money from working in the capital to move back to their native villages.
The film's opening scene was filmed in Nairobi at Kibera, the largest slum in sub-Saharan Africa. Kibera at the time of filming was a sprawling shantytown of approximately six hundred acres with an estimated population of between 800,000 and 1.2 million people, most of whom lived in make-shift huts constructed of scrap lumber, mud, and corrugated iron, and lacking sanitation, running water, and electricity. Today, there are very few trees in Kibera, and every Kenyan tribe is represented among its residents. The "streets" are a labyrinth of raised pathways and shallow trenches winding among streams of raw sewage. The main drag is a working railway line that bisects the shantytown. Residents set up shop along the tracks, laying out anything of conceivable value to anyone.
Of Kibera in Kenya, director Fernando Meirelles said: "It's hard to believe, but I think that Kibera is actually worse than the favelas of Rio where we filmed City of God (2002) and the TV series, City of Men (2007). César Charlone and I had spent a lot of time in the favelas, and Kibera was still a shock for us. I can't even imagine what the British crew members thought. The poverty was...sobering." As it turned out, many of the Kenyan crew members had never even been to Kibera, and were equally taken aback.
In regards to the filming location of Kibera in Kenya, schoolmaster David Mogambi Nyakambi pointed out: "People want to live in Kibera because it is close to where the work is, and it is relatively safe; people rarely steal here because there is nothing to steal." Mogambi, whose schoolyard served as the unit base for the Kibera shoot and whose belief in the bright future of Kibera's children inspired all who met him, was killed in automobile accident in June 2005. Although some people do manage to save enough money to move back to their native villages farther up country, many more are born and die in Kibera. In addition to the absence of even the most basic amenities, the residents are severely afflicted by the AIDS epidemic; it is estimated that one in six Kenyans is HIV-positive, and the percentage is surely higher in Kibera. As in all of sub-Saharan Africa, the number of orphans in Kibera rises daily; the social services needed to look after them are all but nonexistent. Without fail, flocks of tiny children gleefully greet every foreigner who visits Kibera, shaking hands and addressing them (particularly, a mzungu [white outsider]) with, "How are you? How are you? How are you?". Screenwriter Jeffrey Caine reported: "[That phrase is] their only English. What impressed me was how friendly and happy the kids were. They follow you everywhere, not begging for hand-outs but putting out their hands to be held."
Kibera, the city-within-a-city, Nairobi, in Kenya, welcomed the production for over a week. Confirming what schoolmaster David Mogambi Nyakambi said, reports suggesting that Kibera would be hostile and dangerous were not found to be the case by the cast and crew of The Constant Gardener (2005). Their experience was unforgettable - and, for many, exhilarating. A unit base was set up in the schoolyard of the Raila Odinga Educational Centre, which is named after the Member of Parliament for the Langata area that includes Kibera; he is also the Minister for Roads and Transport.
Bernard Otieno Oduor, a radio presenter and singer who was cast as Jomo in The Constant Gardener (2005) following an open audition, reported that "the former regime was pretty uncomfortable with the novel because it implicates the government in one way or another. The film tells the truth about what happens in developing countries, what no one wants to talk about because of the big profits. It's amazing that the current government supported the film. Raila Odinga was on the set, having lunch with the producers and chatting, knowing exactly what the film is about." Some two thousand Kibera residents worked as extras, and others worked as guides and porters for the film crew, negotiating difficult terrain and also stepping in as security guards and interpreters.
Several cast members who were not on-screen in the opening sequence nonetheless made a point of visiting the Kibera set to watch Nick Reding's SAFE Theatre troupe stage a play about AIDS, as movie cameras recorded the performance. Actor/director Reding, who appears in the film as Crick, originally came to Kenya from Hollywood to help build a clinic in Mombassa. While there, he recognized the need to impart information about HIV/AIDS by engaging entire communities, and hit upon the idea of street theatre as a means of getting the message across in a uniquely effective way. His SAFE (Sponsored Arts For Education) group has since performed along truck routes in Kenya from Mombassa to Nairobi. The Constant Gardener (2005) director Fernando Meirelles saw a short film made by the SAFE group, and asked Reding to turn it into a play for inclusion in the movie. The play scenes were filmed live before hundreds of Kibera residents, with actress Rachel Weisz and actor Hubert Koundé, in-character as Tessa Quayle and Dr. Arnold Bluhm respectively, also in the audience.
The production was determined from the outset to give something back to Kibera in Kenya. In addition to providing jobs for as many locals as could be accommodated each day on the set, the construction crew created a play area and soccer playing area, reinforced the roof of a dilapidated church, and built a bridge across a wide sewer to enable emergency vehicles to access residents living at the bottom of a ravine. "We built the bridge, and later put a 10,000-litre fresh water tank next door to it. Our tank will provide water for free to everybody", informed producer Simon Channing Williams. He added: "We also built a ramp up to the railway line, in a similar position to one we used for the camera as a substitute for a crane shot, which will particularly help the elderly and the handicapped." Previously, the incline to the railway track was so steep that only agile children could scale it with ease.
Locations Manager for Kenya, John Chavanga, said of filming in Kibera: "We talked to the community leaders first. They then talked to the people and explained our purpose for being there, and how it could benefit the community. We employed about two thousand people in various areas and built some lasting structures. It was quite an experience for the locals. This was the biggest film ever to shoot in Kibera, and I think they learned a lot from the process. There is a lot of talent there. Bernard Otieno Oduor, who plays Jomo, was brought up in Kibera. They have drama schools and theatre groups. Who knows? Maybe one of the local kids will grow up to become a big actor like Ralph Fiennes."
On filming in Kibera in Kenya, actress Rachel Weisz said: "Kibera was so much bigger than anything I could possibly imagine," "The kids are just incredible. They have none of the 'stranger danger' Western kids are encouraged to feel. The spirit of the place is somehow so much stronger than the poverty. After three days, I started to catch that and relax into it, because of my character; I think that was where Tessa felt truly comfortable." "Kibera makes you understand Tessa," agrees Caine. "You go home feeling you want to help [the kids], improve the material quality of their lives, and this the production company has done."
After more than a month of filming in Kenya, the unit left the Norfolk Hotel and the cool, diesel-choked mountain air of downtown Nairobi. The production headed south, by road, to the village of Ol Tapese, near Lake Magadi in the Rift Valley. A few colorfully painted wooden shacks appear to constitute the whole of Ol Tapese, yet the seemingly barren landscape is in fact teeming with magnificent life. Red-clad Masai herdsmen seemingly materialize from the vast expanse. Kenyan extras casting coordinator, Emily Mabonga, said: "In Kenya, we always joke that you can be driving along a road and there's nobody; then you have an accident and a million people show up. It may look remote, but there are always people out there." Crowd and extras casting coordinator for Kenya, Lenny Juma, had previously visited the area around Ol Tapese to hire a crowd of Masai to appear in a scene; more came throughout the day, to sell handicrafts to the crew, get a drink of water, or just to observe the filming.
The unit moved nearby to an archaeological site on the spectacular cliffs of the Rift Valley in Kenya to shoot a car chase in which Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), in a borrowed Fiat, is pursued by the initially unseen driver of a Land Rover. Producer Simon Channing Williams revealed: "Literally two miles down the road from where we were shooting, I'd gone to check the location we were planning to use for our helicopter shots, only to find that the Smithsonian Institute had taken our spot; they had found remains of our forebears that were 900,000 years old, the oldest human remains found on earth."
Having spent the night in a tented camp, the unit arrived at remote Lake Magadi, standing in for the more northern Lake Turkana in a climactic scene, which resembles the surface of the moon. The comparison is still a valid one, as the 104-kilometer alkaline lake is encompassed by vast salt flats that crunch underfoot like frozen snow. Flamingos and insects seem to be the only form of life on or near the lake, which exhibits an otherworldly roseate coloring. But, a Masai can and will appear out of nowhere through the blinding heat, either on foot or on a bicycle, while savaged flamingo carcasses at the edge of the lake indicate the presence of predators in the vicinity.
During a break from shooting at Lake Magadi in Kenya, actress Rachel Weisz agreed to appear in a television spot for the United Nation's World Food Program (WFP), which camera operator Diego Quemada-Díez in turn volunteered to film for the charity. "The WFP, particularly Regional Information Officer Laura Melo, was an invaluable source of information and help for the production," stated producer Simon Channing Williams. The WFP spot shows the actress walking across the endless, empty expanse at the edge of Lake Magadi, trailed by a group of local school kids, the children of workers at the Magadi Soda Company, which owned this area of the Rift Valley. Magadi Soda provided for its workers' housing, schools, and health-care. The contrast with Kibera in Kenya was not lost on cast and crew.
After filming at Lake Magadi in Kenya, the cast and crew returned briefly to Nairobi in Kenya before traveling north to the village of Loiyangalani in Kenya, on the southeastern shore of the world's largest desert lake, the real Lake Turkana in Kenya, where the production would film the Southern Sudan-set scenes of "Camp Seven".
Loiyangalani in Kenya is a two-and-one-half day drive, or a two-hour plane trip, from the capital city of Kenya, Nairobi. Some of the crew members arrived in the Buffalo aircraft that would be used in the sequence itself, although others were fortunate enough to travel in twelve-seater aircraft that afforded spectacular views of the volcanoes around Lake Turkana. Although breathtakingly beautiful and supporting fish and birdlife, the lake itself was so extremely alkaline that its water was virtually undrinkable. The world's largest population of crocodiles inhabited the lake.
"Loiyangalani is basically a remote piece of real estate consisting of lava floes," said Blue Sky Films' Mario Zvan. "There's not much else, really; a few Doum Palm trees around bits of lake where there is fresh water. It's very dry, very hot, and very inhospitable, about as far as one can get from civilization as we know it. The book actually sets a scene in Loiyangalani, but we went there instead to film a part set in Southern Sudan. We couldn't shoot those scenes in the Sudan both because of the political situation and the lack of infrastructure." Even so, remembered producer Simon Channing Williams, "When I first went to Loiyangalani, I had no idea what we were actually looking at. You can't begin to imagine somewhere like it, nor can you overestimate the difficulty of filming in such a place." Locations Co-ordinator Robin Hollister agreed: "Logistically, it was very tough," agrees "It's at the end of a non-existent road, so all of your supplies have to be flown in from 600 kilometers away."
The shores of Loiyangalani are home to a hardy few, among them several different tribes. These include the Turkana tribe; the Samburu tribe, who are cousins of the Masai tribe, the Rendille tribe; and the El Molo tribe, who are the smallest African tribe. "When we realized that we would be right in the middle of their village, we felt that the community would have to benefit from our being there," explained locations co-ordinator Robin Hollister . "We requested that they set up a committee to represent all the vested interests of the community, of all the different tribes, so that we could deal with one entity rather than several thousand people. Here was a once-in-a-decade opportunity for them to get a little bit of commerce into their economy." The "once-in-a-decade opportunity" that Hollister cited was an understatement; it was more than a decade earlier that he had been in Loiyangalani in Kenya for the location shooting of Bob Rafelson's Mountains of the Moon (1990) which had been first released theatrically in 1990. Hollister noted how the local tribes-people still referred to births as having taken place during the period when that film was shooting, and speculates that children born in 2005 will be told that they were conceived during "the time of the second movie."
"I believe that all of the groundwork we did with the film committee in Loiyangalani was absolutely vital," said producer Simon Channing Williams. "It was all about building trust. We could have got permission from the local council to shoot there and just gone in and done it, but I believe that would have been dreadful and ultimately damaging. With Robin's ['Robin Hollister' qv)] help, I made sure that we established a relationship with Senior Chief Christopher, the local police inspector, and the entire community."
In Loiyangalani in Kenya, some crew members were primarily housed in tents resembling a military encampment, on the edge of the existing airstrip, even as a neighboring airstrip was lengthened by the production to allow for the landing of a massive Buffalo aircraft. Two lodges, one of them 'The Oasis', which is actually featured in John le Carré's source novel, were also taken over by the unit to house cast and crew, with much-appreciated swimming pools; temperatures ran high at the location, and there was no shelter from the sun, nor much from the dust and the wind off the lake.
As in Kenya's Kibera, in Loiyangalani in Kenya, a welcoming community and the constant companionship of dozens of friendly, fearless children made for an unforgettable work experience for those who were there. Between takes, star Ralph Fiennes and two of the other actors were frequently obliged to ask for their set-side chairs to be vacated by local children, only to have the kids settle into their laps and perch on the arms of their chairs.
At dawn in Loiyangalani in Kenya, local extras and laborers gathered on the set to sing and dance in celebration of the day's work. The community was encouraged to take advantage of the unit's drinking water supply, and the resulting lines saw flamboyantly dressed Samburu warriors lined up waiting patiently with camera technicians, while Turkana girls sporting Mohawks and/or henna applications stood with unit drivers, and young persons wove in and out. Locals were also advised that they could visit the doctor and nurses in the unit's first aid tent. Word of the medical attention traveled quickly, as an elderly Turkana walked from his home forty kilometers away to consult the doctor about his joint pains; the diagnosis was the all-too-familiar combination of old age, malnutrition, and dehydration.
For the Sudanese border raid sequences, a few days passed before the winds abated and the South African special effects crew was able to safely set fire to the specially-built prop huts without risk to the real surrounding palm-frond huts that are home to many Turkana families. A professional livestock theft-prevention unit was brought in to portray the raiding party. Veteran stunt coordinator Roly Jansen pronounced these riders and their horses to be among the best he had ever worked with; this was also high praise given the heat, the extremely dangerous terrain, and the hundreds of untrained men, women, and children employed as extras for the chaotic sequence. One of the riders, given a camera, was able to shoot footage while on horseback, and at a breakneck speed. In the midst of the orchestrated mayhem, a Buffalo plane repeatedly flew over at dizzyingly low levels yet perfectly on cue; its pilots were accustomed to performing these feats of daring for real, having made perilous food drops across the border in Sudan.
The final day of the Loiyangalani shoot in Kenya also marked producer Simon Channing Williams' investiture as a tribal elder. That evening, the village square was transformed into an open-air cinema by Filmaid, a charity providing entertainment and diversion to refugees around the world. During a ceremony filled with dancing and speeches from local dignitaries, Channing Williams was presented with the feathered headdress and the pair of carved walking sticks that symbolize his new status. The producer had become so familiar with the territory since his first advance visit six months earlier that he was already regularly making the eight-kilometer trip to take urgently need food and water supplies to the remote El Molo tribe.
Among the many other initiatives undertaken by the producer and new tribal elder Simon Channing Williams and co-producer Tracey Seaward were providing mattresses and linens for the children who board at the local school, and giving the production facilities fee to the entire community - in the form of a trust fund for local children to receive a secondary education. The duo also arranged for any and all disposable props, costumes, and construction materials to be distributed by the mission to neediest in Loiyangalani, Kenya.
The last days of July 2004 saw the final leg of the shoot in Kenya, as star Ralph Fiennes and a reduced unit filmed in Lokichoggio. That town had been, since 1989, the hub of the international relief effort in Southern Sudan. Scenes of Justin Quayle's (Ralph Fiennes) arrival in Lokichoggio were filmed, along with aerial views of the Kenya-Sudan border, and a food drop from a Hercules aircraft.
"Africa will live within me because of a couple of very different memories," said director Fernando Meirelles. "There is the amazing landscape and the people who warmly received us. It's such a beautiful place. But I can never, and will never, forget the problems the continent has, which were so much bigger than I was expecting. We talked about this on location; when a British man says that a country is poor, that's one thing, but when a Brazilian man like myself says it, well, that's something else. And what of their future? When I think that one in six Kenyans is HIV-positive and it's not just HIV, it's hepatitis, it's tuberculosis, and all kinds of illness all over Africa . . . it's frightening. It's hard to have hope for the future, and yet we must."
The production's initiative to return something to the communities that welcomed the film shoot continues unabated. Producer Simon Channing Williams set up a charitable trust, saying, "This is not about supporting a charity that has a large overhead and new 4x4 vehicles. Rather, our intention is to directly support the areas that have helped us so much, as well as a few specific others. We are right now concentrating on Kibera, Loiyangalani, and the El Molo; also, on orphans of AIDS and the street children of Nairobi. Additionally, we are researching programs that care for children on a non-denominational basis; water programs for the areas in which we have filmed; and the performing arts. Why that, you may ask. "The answer is, so many people have told us how important film can be in terms of increasing understanding at every level; Nick Reding has already proven how theater can make a difference, with his SAFE group. So now, the movies must do their part."
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
At the eulogy for Justin, Pellegrin quotes this line: "Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it." That quote is taken from the beginning of Macbeth: [King Duncan: Is execution done on Cawdor? Are not those in commission yet return'd? Malcolm: My liege, they are not yet come back. But I have spoke With one that saw him die; who did report That very frankly he confessed his treasons, Implor'd your Highness' pardon, and set forth A deep repentance. Nothing in his life Became him like the leaving it.] In Macbeth, the "him" referred to is a traitor who had been executed for betraying his king. Justin has been murdered for doing the same thing. Pellegrin's gall in using this quote is amazing, especially when it seems fairly clear he ordered the hit in the first place.
In a deleted scene, seen on DVD extras, Swedish actress Pernilla August plays an employee at the Canadian company that was responsible for the drug research. Her character gave Justin Quayle information that led him to Dr. Lorbeer. Moments after doing this, she is killed in a mysterious hit-and-run car accident.
Director Fernando Meirelles said of this film: "The chance to take on some of the pharmaceutical industry was only one of three elements that made me want to direct The Constant Gardener (2005). Another was the chance - the choice - to shoot in Kenya. And it is also and fundamentally a very original love story; a man who marries a younger woman, and it's after she dies that he truly falls in love with her and goes looking for her. It's a beautiful tale, with a touch of the existential to it."
For the scenes of Tessa Quayle (Rachel Weisz)'s s hospitalization and discovery of the deadly effects of Dypraxa, the production shot at Pumwani, a working maternity hospital catering to Nairobi's poorest residents, and the center of a scandal at the time of filming. The local press was full of reports concerning high incidents of mistaken infant identity at the hospital. Other reports pointed to the hospital's higher-than-average mortality rate. While acknowledging that they were fighting a losing battle, Pumwani's Matron Bridget Mbatha, who appears as a hospital administrator in the film, defended the institution against these charges. She argued that undernourished, unhealthy mothers and their underweight newborns are inevitably less likely to survive, particularly when they are rushed to an understaffed, ill-equipped hospital as an emergency measure when a birth assisted by untrained, backstreet clinic operators has gone awry. Following one day's filming at Pumwani, actor Danny Huston sorrowfully remarked that it was "a truly heartbreaking place."
Screenwriter Jeffrey Caine remarked, "Ralph [Fiennes who plays Justin] and Rachel [Weisz who plays Tessa] made me believe totally in the passion and the tenderness of the Tessa-Justin relationship." As the movie took shape, screenwriter Caine took on what he calls the "professional challenge" of adapting novelist John le Carré's work. Caine commented: "I'm a long-time admirer of John le Carré's writing and have always felt - in common with many of his readers - that the films made from his novels have rarely done them justice. 'The Constant Gardener' [novel] struck me as having the potential to be a strong film; an emotional personal love story wedded to a timely political theme and a suspenseful structure. For me, the heart of the tale was always the human story of Justin and Tessa; that of a politically uncommitted man discovering only after her death the true nature of the woman he loved and thereafter devoting himself to continuing her work, growing even closer to her than he was during her lifetime." Caine added: "It was important to [producer] Simon [Channing Williams] and to le Carré that he approve the screenwriter, so the final step before I was hired was a lunch at which I had to convince le Carré that he'd come to the right store. Seems I managed that. During the development process - which took over two years - he sent in quite a few sets of notes on the various drafts and attended some of the script meetings. Happily, he's movie-wise as well as book-wise; he knows that in order to make a novel work on the screen, much has to be done differently. In fact, he often urged me to change even more than I was inclined to change." Caine retained the book's nonlinear approach, noting, "Because of what happens to Tessa - killed off on page one - it was necessary to use flashbacks. Otherwise we wouldn't be able to engage emotionally with Tessa [Rachel Weisz] and Justin [Ralph Fiennes]. The balancing act for me was to provide a sufficiently intriguing forward thrust to the narrative without giving away too much of the plot too soon and without sacrificing either the personal story of Justin's growth to understanding or the underlying thematic content."