Barry (aka James Miranda Barry)

Last Update: 29 Dec 2004
You need a browser capable of viewing tables to see this page properly)

An article in on December 29, 2004, quoted Production
Weekly with the following info:
Rachel Weisz is James Miranda Barry
Source: Production Weekly December 29, 2004
"Mummy" series, Constantine, and The Fountain star Rachel Weisz will
reportedly play the title role in the historical drama James Miranda Barry,
according to Production Weekly.
Marleen Gorris will direct the film, written by Malcolm Kohll, early next
year in the UK and South America. Sean Bean, Sean Pertwee, and
Janet Suzman are said to have also joined the cast.
In 1814, a woman of unknown origins graduated from Edinburgh Medical
School disguised as a man. Dr. James Miranda Barry has the distinction
of being the first woman doctor in the Western world.
She served in the British military disguised as a male surgeon for
forty-five years. The scandal of her elaborate deception did not surface
until her death.

Focus Features and the IMDB both contain web pages with information about
Barry (aka James Miranda Barry), a proposed UK/Canada/South Africa Treaty
Co-Production feature film.
(Note: anyone can update the IMDB - it is not an official source of news).
This film was scheduled to begin principal photography in May 2004,
however it was reliant on funding provided by a UK tax scheme.
In March 2004 this tax loophole was closed by the UK government,
putting a number of films into jeopardy. Barry was one of those films.
Focus Features continues to seek out other sources of funding for
the film.
As of 29 December 2004, Sean's schedule for 2005 begins with
The Island (filming to begin in early January 2005). Other projects,
which do not currently include Barry, are set to continue until at
least May 2005.

A "visible" page on the Focus Features site gives this description of the
film under "Packaging":
Biopic about first woman doctor set in England and South Africa. UK/SA/ITL Co-Production.
Budget $14M. Prods: David Pupkewitz and Malcolm Kohll (UK). Co-Exec Prod: Ernst Goldschmidt.
Exec Prod: Izi Codron. Assoc Prod: Lucinda Van Rie. Scr: Malcolm Kohll. Director: Marleen
Gorris. Backers: SAFFCO, Focus Films, MEDIA. Sales Agent: Pandora Cinema.
Casting: Gail Stevens. Cast: Rachel Weisz, Sean Bean, Janet Suzman, Sean Pertwee

A "hidden" page on the Focus Features site gives a more in-depth synopsis:
This is the remarkable true story of James Miranda Barry. In the early years of the 19th Century
Barry graduated from Edinburgh University Medical School aged 21. Barry was appointed army
surgeon to the Cape Colony where she performed the first successful Caesarian operation and
rose through the ranks to eventually become Surgeon General of the British Army. It was only
when the undertaker was laying out the body of the eminent physician that a startling discovery
was made - Dr James Barry was in fact a woman.
The story chronicles the early years of Miranda Barry, living with her ward, the flamboyant
General Franciso de Miranda in Edinburgh. Miranda and his cronies were Utopian free thinkers,
and from an early age Miranda instilled in the young girl the notion that she could become
whatever she wished. The precocious child had only one desire - to become a doctor.
However, at that time, women were not permitted in universities and so they hit on the
notion of living her life as a man. She flew through medical school and then faced a
dilemma - to continue her career in disguise, or to emerge as a woman and forfeit her
Her career won out. She felt there was least chance of discovery in a distant colonial
outpost and so took a position in the Cape of Good Hope. Her medical prowess soon
brought her enemies but also attracted the attention of a powerful ally, the Governor,
Lord Charles Somerset.
Initially Somerset was drawn to the brilliant young doctor with 'his' incisive mind. Barry
provided genial company in the rough frontier post for the lonely widower, and after a
while Somerset found himself drawn to the young 'man.'
Initially Somerset was deeply disturbed by his feelings but then discovered that Barry was in
fact a woman, and so began a passionate clandestine affair. However, Somerset's enemies
had also noted his fondness for the young doctor and a leaflet campaign was started which
accused Somerset of homosexuality, and eventually he was recalled to London in disgrace.
Barry was sent to Mauritius to deal with a cholera epidemic and it seemed that her one
chance of true happiness was gone forever.
However, a note came from Somerset, begging her to join him. Barry embarked for the
United Kingdom and for the first time in her adult life, appeared as a woman. Happiness
was snatched from Barry when Somerset died in a riding accident. She once more cut
her long hair and changed back to become Dr James Barry.
She re-entered the army and spent the rest of her life as a man...
© Focus Films 2003

As of March 26, 2004, Barry was caught up in a British government
decision to close a tax loophole which allowed funding to be arranged for
certain film projects.
An article in Screen Daily, on 20 February 2004, explains the situation:
Frustration mounts as producers await tax decision
Adam Minns in London

Producers were forced to wait another day yesterday to hear if any transition arrangements
were to be made for films hit by last week’s UK tax clamp down.

Despite many industry insiders being hopeful of news as early as Wednesday, sources close
to talks with the government said on Thursday that it was still “too close to call”.

The lack of a decision is causing mounting frustration amongst producers already spending
money in pre-production. Amongst those on a critical list submitted to the government by
industry lobbyists PACT, the UK Film Council and BSAC is Oscar-winning director
Marleen Gorris’ Barry, starring Rachel Weisz.

“We just need to know where we stand,” said producer David Pupkewitz. “While we are in
limbo, there is no cure. No one wants to change horses in mid-stream.”

Pupkewitz, who had been relying on financing from the First Choice scheme, said he is
ploughing on with pre-production, with shooting scheduled to start in Cape Town next
month. The $14 million Focus Films production film, which is being sold internationally by
Pandora, tells the true-life story of a woman doctor who, disguised as a man, became
Surgeon General of the British Army.

The most urgent titles on the list are The Libertine, The River King and Man To Man, which
are set to shoot imminently or are already shooting.

In the case of The Libertine, star Johnny Depp is understood to be amongst those with money
committed to the production from his fee.

Another 25-odd titles on the critical list include Tulip Fever, which would be the most
expensive casualty at $45m. Also facing uncertainty are Fernando Meirelles’ The Constant
Gardener, which Weisz was reportedly committed to after Barry; Samuelson Productions’
Manchester United Ruined My Life; Gaby Dellal’s On A Clear Day; and Richard Jobson’s
follow-up to The Purifiers, The Only Ones.

A story in Variety on March 14, 2004, clarified the situation.
Brits face taxing time

The British film community would prefer to be worrying about how to make better movies.
Instead it can't talk about anything but tax.

On March 17, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown is expected to reveal what,
if anything, will replace the Section 48 film tax break after it expires in 2005. Will it be a
transferable tax credit tied to distribution? A temporary extension of S48 for another year?
Or something else entirely? Nobody is sure.
Meanwhile, producers are still clinging to the fading hope of government aid to tide them
through the crisis caused by last month's Inland Revenue clampdown on film funds claiming
tax relief outside S48.
The enforced closure of the First Choice and Inside Track funds blew a 30% hole in the
budgets of two dozen projects, including several already in pre-production when the
ax fell Feb. 10.
Two weeks ago, the U.K. Film Council submitted a detailed proposal for the government to
invest public coin as a stopgap to save the projects most at risk. A response was needed
urgently, but nothing had emerged by March 11, with the Treasury and the Department of
Culture unable to agree which should foot the bill. Brown and culture secretary Tessa
Jowell were due to meet March 11 in a final bid to resolve the issue.
That has left producers unsure whether to wait, keeping a united front in the campaign for
emergency relief, or to cut and run, saving their own projects from collapse with whatever
desperate deal they can find, but thereby undermining the case for government intervention.
"We are being held to ransom by the process," says David Pupkewitz, producer of the
Marleen Gorris pic "Barry," which has delayed shooting by a month to May 10. "It doesn't
help for pictures to go off and get refinanced, because it lets the government off the hook.
But we cannot wait forever." His possible alternatives include S48 financier Movision and
the Film Council's Premiere Fund.
Movision already rescued the $15 million "River King," shooting March 16; and the Wesley
Snipes starrer "Chaos" from Franchise. The Isle of Man saved "The Libertine," which started
March 5.
The Fernando Meirelles pic "The Constant Gardener" looks likely to go ahead with S48
financier Scion, a U.K. broadcaster and the Premiere Fund joining Focus Features,
and $1.5 million cut from its $27 million budget.
"On A Clear Day," starring Peter Mullan, has scraped some S48 coin to fill most of its gap
but still has a shortfall. Its shoot date has been pushed from April 5 to May 31.
Regis Wargnier's $28 million French co-production "Man to Man" started shooting Feb. 18 in
South Africa, knowing that it did not have enough money to finish. That situation is now
getting critical. According to producer Farid Laoussa, there's enough coin to complete
the South African leg, but nothing yet for the Scottish shoot due to start April 18.
After shutting down pre-production of John Madden's "Tulip Fever" at a strike cost of $6 million,
producer Alison Owen is now trying to reset the pic for September, when her star Jude Law
may be available again if he doesn't take another job in the meantime. But the $45 million
budget will make it tough without the tax coin.
That's a widespread problem. The Inside Track and First Choice coin seems to have taken
some projects to budget levels that the rest of the marketplace won't necessarily support.
On "The Truth About Love," producer Tracey Adam has mortgaged herself to the hilt to keep
pre-production going in the hope of government aid but will otherwise have to slash her
budget so hard that the quality of the film may suffer, and her company won't cover the
debts it has run up in the past five years of painstaking development.
Producers such as Adam won't let their films collapse, but price of survival will be high.
That's no way to make better movies nor build a sustainable industry.

Followup stories in both Variety and Screen Daily on March 17, 2004, detailed
the replacement funding rules unveiled by UK Chancellor Gordon Brown in
his new budget. However these rules are set to launch in 2005, and there
was no clear ruling on those films, such as Barry, which have been caught
between the old, discontinued funding schemes, and the new, yet-to-be
implemented ones.

The future of Barry lies with Focus Features and their efforts to
obtain replacement funding for the film.

Barry will remain in this section (Rumours) unless and until Focus issues
a press release indicating principal photography is about to start.
Confirmation of Sean's role in the film (as Lord Charles Somerset) will also
depend on an official announcement from Focus Features.


Return to Rumours Main Page

Return to The Compleat Sean Bean Main Page