If Michael Clive’s life story been written as a novel, readers would readily accept it as fiction. Born in London, England in 1912, his father worked for the Royal family as secretary and solicitor to the Duchy of Cornwall. He also was a trusted confidant of the King. Mikey’s mother’s family was instrumental in developing the golf-and-gambling resort of Le Touquet in Northern France. Mickey spent a year at college, decided to become a writer by ghosting “Full Throttle,” the autobiography of race car pro Sir Henry Birkin. Restless, he spent time in Florence, befriending Alice Keppel (the former mistress of Edward VII) and announced he was bisexual; his lovers would include communist spy Guy Burgess. Mikey would initially be taken in by Nazism, expressing an admiration for Hitler. He met the German leader in 1936, who autographed his copy of “Mein Kampf”; Mikey, who lost it along the way.) In 1942, he took part in a daring commando assault on the fortified French port of St Nazaire, where he was captured, and he ended the war a POW in Colditz. He would latterly become a committed Marxist and be credited with saving the life of Audrey Hepburn, continue writing books and poetry.
American director Greg Olliver, who has previously documented the life of rock star Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, and blues legend Johnny Winter, started making this film in 2008, revisiting significant events and places in Burn’s life. Burn is presented here as a candid and witty raconteur, with a sharp mind and vivid recollections. He died in 2010, which leaves the film “Turned Towards the Sun” as a fitting eulogy to a remarkable figure. The DVD will be released on December 15.
“The film is about having one last chance to look back on a long, fulfilling life and Micky Burn has a story like no other”, says Olliver. “I met him through a chance encounter and was soon taken by the charm, intelligence and humor vividly on display in his storytelling and the resilience and compassion of his spirit evident in his tales. He was an old man living life quietly on the coast of Wales, but one with a personal history that wove and wound itself around the defining moments of the twentieth century. With surprising candor and zeal, he opened himself to the camera and its imagined audience; allowing us, now, a glimpse of his life remembered from what would become its twilight. ‘Turned Towards the Sun’ is a portrait of an extraordinary man who lived through extraordinary times. In his story, we see our history and ourselves.”