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Edward Bond Dies: ‘Blow-Up’ Scripter & British Playwright Whose Shows Were Banned In UK Was 89

Edward Bond, the Oscar-nominated Blow-Up screenwriter and playwright whose Saved and Early Morning were banned in the UK, fueling a legal review that led to the end of stage censorship in the country, has died, his agency said. He was 89.

Casarotto Ramsay and Associates said he died Sunday but did not reveal the cause.

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“Edward was one of the greatest dramatists of the 20th century,” the agency tweeted. “He made his mark upon the theatrical world with radical, thought-provoking, and unerringly original work.”

Bond’s first screenplay was the English-language dialogue for Blow-Up, Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 classic that starred David Hemming and Vanessa Redgrave. Earning him an Original Screenplay Oscar nom, it was the first of about a dozen film credits including Walkabout (1971) and Laughter in the Dark (1968).

Born on July 18, 1934, in London, Bond quit school as a teenager and would see his debut play, The Pope’s Wedding, produced in 1962 at the Royal Court Theatre. Three years later, the same West End hall showcased his Saved, which infamously featured a scene in which a group of teens stoned a baby to death in a stroller. It was during the time when plays needed official government approval — which the Royal Court did not get, leading to it being prosecuted for staging the show.

The venue lost that case, and Saved was banned in the UK, as was Bond’s next play, 1967’s Early Morning, which lambasted the British Royal Family. The censor-defying works led to a backlash against the Theatres of 1843, which requires scripts to be approved by Lord Chamberlain’s office. The law was overturned in 1968

Today, Saved is revered as a modern classic and continues to be performed internationally.

Bond went on to pen dozens more shows and screenplays, will into the 2010s. Several of his plays were inspired by the works of William Shakespeare, including 1969’s Lear, which was based on King Lear. The 1974 play Bingo featured the Bard (played by John Gielgud) in the later stages of his life.

‘Blow-Up’ poster, 1966
‘Blow-Up’ poster, 1966

Among his other best-known shows are The Sea (1971), The Fool (1974) and the mid-’80s War trilogy (Red Black and IgnorantThe Tin Can People and Great Peace). His final produced play, the Madea adaptation Dea, debuted in 2016.

Another of Bond’s most famous works, Narrow Road to the Deep North, had a five-week run on Broadway in early 1972 after premiering in London four years earlier.

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