“Lorca’s women harbour a great deal of desire, love and hatred”
by Alfonso Rivera
- Cineuropa chatted to Paula Ortiz about her second feature film, The Bride, which is based on Federico García Lorca’s Blood Wedding and competing in Tallinn
In the wake of the success of her feature debut, Chrysalis [+see also:
film profile], Paula Ortiz continues to explore some of its thematic and scenic motifs with The Bride [+see also:
interview: Paula Ortiz
film profile], a drama based on the famous novel Blood Wedding by Spanish author Federico García Lorca. Ortiz, who juggles her jobs as a director, screenwriter, producer and university lecturer, lifts the lid on the extremely daring keys to this tragedy, bristling with strong characters, abrasive landscapes, and technical and emotional intensity.
Cineuropa: The Bride has links to your previous film, Chrysalis, as you once again foreground the world of females and landscapes: it has the same aesthetics as the section of that film starring Maribel Verdú, or am I wrong?
Paula Ortiz: Exactly right. The locations are not the same, but it is indeed that kind of desert world. Inevitably, it’s the landscape I have in my memory and my imagination: I’m from Zaragoza, and I grew up surrounded by desert. I think the harsh beauty and the element of survival in the desert has a certain value on the ethical, aesthetic and emotional levels. The cinematic experience, the journey that we like to build up, passes through that experiencing of the landscape, the elements of nature, that intense structure of the textures of the earth, the atmospheres and the materials. Both films are connected through that world and also via the world of females, through identity. Lorca, who built up feminine worlds and had a strong vision of this type of character, did something braver than what I did in my first movie: he created characters that, besides having mythical, goddess-like identities, harbour within themselves forces of creation and destruction: it’s not only a more delicate or sensitive universe, something that could be attributed to femininity, but rather they are more contradictory, visceral, for better or worse: they harbour all the desire, all the love and all the hatred. They are tremendous, and navigating those waters was a privilege for me.
Is that why The Bride has such an impetuous tone to it?
It’s a tragedy, and the rules of tragedy demand a stream of sensations, emotions, getting ever deeper until you reach catharsis, that shock to the soul, that rift, as the Greeks used to say. To achieve that with the language of film, you have to be more intense when constructing it, and it is the rules themselves that dictate the highly emotional tone, in order to finally arrive at a moral reflection. To manage this, you need to conjure up a journey of brutal sensations, and that’s what we tried to do with all of the tools we had at our disposal.
And how did you ensure that this tone didn’t run out of control?
Achieving that tone is the biggest concern: you don’t know if you’ve pulled it off until you’ve finished the movie and people outside have seen it. Because those of us who are involved in it don’t know if such a complicated tone can end up seeming ridiculous or exaggerated: that was our fear during every single stage of our work, right from pre-production and during the shoot, with the actors and the crew who had to construct the aesthetic, visual and aural world, as well as afterwards in post-production. You’re never sure: it’s a dreadful threshold to be standing on. I often say: I don’t know if I’ll ever do anything as difficult as this again, unless I immerse myself in another tragedy, in a classic text like this, because it’s an extremely risky tone. But if you want to build up the value of the tragedy in the same way as it happened in the Greek plays, in Shakespeare or in Lorca, but in the present day, with refined artistic staging, you have to place all the different languages on the table. That’s why in The Bride there was a strong expressive structure for the colour, light, landscapes, textures, objects, production design… there was also a dramaturgical gamble with the actors and the poetry, and with the sound design, which generates a lot of the unreal and symbolic elements, like the music.
Could we compare your film to a dish with sudden strong flavours?
Absolutely. I’m aware of the fact that it’s constantly on a knife’s edge: that was the gamble, and there was a big chance that for many people, if they were not drawn into the film, they would reject it.
What was it that inspired you to get involved in such a mess?
I read Lorca when I was 15 years old, and it was an atavistic, hypnotic experience: there is no intellectual reason behind it, but rather a passionate reason. I studied Spanish Language and Literature, and I’m not afraid of those texts, because I’ve spent a lot of time with them. So why not write a screenplay with one of those texts, which can be so very powerful on the big screen? Sometimes in our cinema we elevate them to an almost sacred level – why don’t we give them new forms like they do in other countries’ film industries?
(Translated from Spanish)