February 6th, 2021

The late, great Christopher Plummer -- and the role he played in my film of Mindfield

Mindfield was not a big-budget flm, but the casting of Plummer as the sinister Dr. Sartorius (based loosely on Dr. Ewen Cameron) was a brilliant choice to play against Michael Ironside, whose role was as a Montreal homicide detective suffering horrible flashbacks.

Plummer and I had several session together, chatting about how we conceived the character of Dr. Sartorius. An absolute gentleman, despite his reputation (as recounted in media obituaries) about his caustic tongue.

The movie will not count as one of the great epics of cinema, but at least was true to my novel. The shooting of it was almost as much a thriller as the film's plot -- a funding deadline meant we has to finish the shoot before year's end, and I was forced to slug away in a Montreal hotel room writing the final climactic scenes as the production team shot my earlier sequences in the frozen streets of Montreal.

To save money, the California producer threatened to cut the last, vital, explain-everything scene, and had to be cajoled to stick with the script. In relenting, he said, "I've gone 360 degrees on this one," which of course meant he would have wound up where he started.

The real storyabout the MK-ULTRA mind-control experiments is told in a CBC podcast whose co-producer is Kevin Oke, a friend who used Mindfield as part of his research.

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