Anthony Wonke’s new documentary turns the lens on Johnnie Walker, following the whisky’s 200-year journey by way of archives, anecdotes and extra

A whisky model, and a blended one at that, won’t look like the highest candidate for a documentary. However when it’s Johnnie Walker, the world’s greatest promoting Scotch model, all bets are off. BAFTA-winning director Anthony Wonke’s new impartial movie, The Man Who Walked Across the World, appears to be like at how the ‘striding man’ grew to become omnipresent, far faraway from its humble begin as a grocer in 1820.

Wonke — who has beforehand made documentaries on Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and Star Wars — isn’t any stranger to tradition and fandom. Along with his newest providing, the 2 collide for an often-hagiographic historical past of the Scottish distillery. “I’m intrigued by the model’s iconography and the way it in some way resonates in our lives in the present day,” he tells me over an electronic mail interview. “Whisky itself is imbued with historic and cultural connotations, a Zelig-like character that has been a part of main social and political scenes in historical past.”

A vintage Johnnie Walker billboard in Chicago, in the 1950s

A classic Johnnie Walker billboard in Chicago, within the 1950s
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A dram of historical past

Encompassing nearly 200 years and as many nations in a movie is a troublesome job. These searching for a deep dive can be disenchanted — the movie is an exploration of what ‘it takes to turn into an icon in standard tradition’.

There may be, nonetheless, deep respect for the whisky maker, each by these interviewed on digital camera — starting from actors and musicians (like Sophia Bush and Cappadonna) to barmen, activists and artists — and people behind it. Consequently, the ultimate lower spans a interval, that, as Wonke says, “has coated the 2 World Wars, the influenza pandemic [which was at the same time as their 100-year anniversary], the civil rights motion, the feminist motion, civil unrest, prohibition and so forth. The model has seen all kinds of main historic occasions”.

Footprints in Bollywood

  • Following examples of how the model grew to become a social justice beacon in Brazil and a logo of aspiration for a lot of world wide, it got here to India — the world’s largest shopper of whisky. “We seemed into the world of Bollywood and realised the massive cultural affect Johnnie Walker has had throughout the business. It seems in lots of movies [from Mehbooba and Baazi to Hera Pheri] and has its personal set of meanings and connotations,” says Wonke.
  • The director additionally got here throughout Badruddin Jamaluddin Kazi, a teetotaller who was higher referred to as Johnnie Walker. “We thought it an excellent story. After talking to his son, and realising how charming he was, we needed to have him,” he says. However for extra of the dialog, he factors me in direction of the documentary.

One of the vital attention-grabbing anecdotes is from Iraq. “We managed to speak to an ex-intelligence analyst and advisor to [retired United States Army general] David Petraeus, who spent not less than 5 years in Iraq. Numerous what he did was speaking to ‘dangerous actors’, as he would put it. Within the morning he could be having tea with a member of the Al-Qaeda, within the afternoon, he could be speaking to an ex Iraqi Baath social gathering member. Within the evenings, he would sit down to barter and work out some type of intelligence gathering. In the end the reality solely got here out when a bottle of whisky was placed on the desk. And that whisky was all the time Johnnie Walker Blue,” shares Wonke. “So, I fairly like the concept that if that bottle of whisky may discuss, what wouldn’t it say concerning the world, about world historical past, and about important moments in life. I feel that was one of many issues that actually struck me.”

Watch The Man Who Walked Across the World on SonyLIV.

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