“To be able to laugh about morbid things, the absurd moments in life, can be liberating”
by Maud Forsgren
- In Order of Disappearance by Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland is the only Nordic contender for the Golden Bear of the 64th Berlinale
This year, the list of films in the competition of the Berlin Film Festival includes In Order of Disappearance [+see also:
interview: Hans Petter Moland
film profile], the seventh feature by Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland, with Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård in the lead. After Kjærlighetens kjøtere (1995), Aberdeen (2000), and A Somewhat Gentle Man [+see also:
interview: Hans Petter Moland
film profile] (2010), this is the actor’s fourth film with Moland, a filmmaker passionate about the environment, sustainability and nature, and who nevertheless, by fear of solitude, left the family farm at a young age to dedicate himself to cinema.
Cineuropa: Why this film?
Hans Petter Moland: I had wanted to make a comedy for a while, one that shows a happy man, satisfied with his existence, who is suddenly faced with a catastrophe, in the case of my film, the tragic death of his son after an overdose.
A delicate topic... a dark comedy then?
If you want. It’s always a bit artificial to try to place films in categories. My film is first and foremost a comedy, with, it is true, a strong inclination towards absurdity and morbidity. To be able to laugh about morbid things, the absurd moments in life, can be beneficial, liberating even. But In order of disappearance is also a story about revenge, an action movie with suspense, fights and car chases. Nils, the snowplough driver wants to avenge his son and will therefore go through many perils. I developed the starting point with Kim Fupz Aakeson whom I’d already put in charge of the screenplay of my previous film, A Somewhat Gentle Man. Our collaboration is somewhat dialectic: together we search for a character, looking for the possibilities opened by a situation, without either one of us really trying to be right. For sure, we sometimes disagree, mostly about details, but the story, as if it were obvious, always ends up imposing itself.
Many scenes were filmed outdoors.
Yes, in Oslo and around Beitostølen in the Jotunheimen mountains, in the winter, with temperatures of – 25º. The weather was mostly splendid and I owe the beautiful snowy landscape images to my cinematographer, the Franco-Norwegian photographer Øgaard with whom I worked for the fifth time.
Øgaard, Skarsgård... you seem loyal.
I like to shoot in a family atmosphere, a trusting climate. Life is too short to surround yourself with unpleasant people. But the cast also includes actors with whom I had never worked before. Friends or not, I like to talk about their roles with them, deepen our understanding, sometimes try to comprehend the storyline under a different angle. It would be a shame not to listen to talented people. People can be franc and direct without neglecting to be tactful and courteous. It’s often mutually beneficial.
You made use of experts for certain scenes?
Yes, stuntmen, but also specialists to help Bruno Ganz for example when he needed to handle weapons. He was much amused by this technical initiation.
What are your hopes for the near future?
Of course I really want my film to be seen by a large audience, but having to face dozens of journalists worries me a little. The problem with interviews sometimes, is that we forget to forget ourselves, and that comes in the way of real conversation. My place, as a director, is behind the camera, not in front of it. Making a film means a director has to be a little schizophrenic: he has to be God in his own universe, and at the same time very humble, flexible, ready to let himself be surprised, let the latent positive energy take over, to create a collective work, without loosing sight of the goal he has set out. I also have to admit that, just like Nils in his adventures, chance plays a big part in the success of a movie. But to benefit from this chance, you have to be open, receptive, and daring in the risks you take. If you want chance to find you, you cannot hide in a bubble. It’s better to learn how to live with insecurity, to overcome your fear. These days, I find there’s too much distrust. Geo-localization, video-surveillance... these things can, I believe, endanger democracy, and in fact, this trend towards transparency is not conducive to exchanges, in my opinion.
What about cinema?
From my first film as a spectator, 101 Dalmatians, I have memories of the fascinating Cruella, whom I found quite sexy, and still today, I like to let myself be seduced by other directors. I really enjoy Terrence Malick, the producer of my film The beautiful country (2004), but also Fellini, De Sica, Sorrentino, Truffaut, Melville... For a while now I also developed a taste for “blind dates”, or surprise encounters with cinema. Entering new experiences with no preconceptions, discovering things I didn’t know I liked, it’s wonderful. Cinema is a democratic medium: all it needs is curiosity and availability.
(Translated from French)