"Who is guilty in the end?"
by Fabien Lemercier
- Extracts from the press conference given on the Croisette by the Hungarian director, selected in competition at the Cannes Film Festival 2010 with Tender Son – The Frankenstein Project
Why did you give your film a double title: Tender Son – The Frankenstein Project [+see also:
Kornél Mundruczó: The first part of the title, Tender Son, sums up everything that we, the filmmakers, think about the monster: he is in fact an innocent person. But I wanted to keep the reference to the Frankenstein legend which is very well-known, particularly in the English-speaking artistic world. At the start, The Frankenstein Project was just the name of the screenplay file on my computer.
Your film seems to give credence to the theory that society judges people, dictates what they should do and turns them into monsters. Is this the message that you want to convey?
In a society, the limits are always fixed by the majority. What interests me in this theme is holding up a mirror to these boundaries. I was already trying more or less to answer this question in my previous films, but this time it became even clearer during the preparation. That’s why I decided to play one of the lead roles and ask this question in the film: who is guilty in the end? As the story unfolds, we realise that this creator who has created the monster gradually becomes a father and in the end we wonder who is really responsible for the murders.
By breaking down the walls that society builds around people so they remain normal, the monster evolves. These walls are very thin and monstrousness is an expression of the actions we can use to break them down, to find different points of view, but I don’t give any sociological explanations, it remains a fiction film.
What made you choose this setting so typical of old Budapest, with its large inner courtyards where you can go from one circular gallery to another?
It was a very long process finding this place through which I wanted to express my thoughts about Budapest, where I too arrived as an outsider for I wasn’t born there. Before, I used to think that shooting in natural surroundings was more suited to my style. During our location searches, we found this apartment building and we decided to shoot almost all the film there.
Everybody in our society can identify with this feeling of closure, of an enclosed space. The architecture has become a metaphor on several levels: we don’t know what will become of this dilapidated building, if it is going to be destroyed or rebuilt, and this system of inner corridors functions like a prison, like the reflection of the world in which we all live.
What were you aiming for with the film’s extraordinary visual quality?
The film’s setting and images are very simple, but rather unusual for contemporary cinema. We used anamorphic lenses like in old Hollywood movies and very white lighting. The story is set in winter and in the second part only in the snow for it has several meanings: it’s made of the element water, but at the same time it gives a feeling of warmth.
For me, the visuals are the most important aspect, more important than the story. There is a lot of camera movement in the film, but it’s quite functional. I have a great DoP: we compose the images together, but he’s the one with the good eye. In current films, the design deceives viewers and it’s difficult to find a DoP who focuses on the visual side and is interested in the story too.
What is your point of view on the situation of cinema in Central and Eastern Europe?
We can’t yet see what precise direction they will take, but a new generation of filmmakers is emerging. In a sense, we’re the generation zero, because we have no memories related to the Iron Curtain era. But there is a Hungarian film tradition and it’s a good idea to connect with it.