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"Filming the invisible – in other words, desire"

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Luca Guadagnino • Director


- VENICE 2015: Six years on from I Am Love, Luca Guadagnino is back with A Bigger Splash, in competition at the Venice Film Festival

Luca Guadagnino  • Director

Six years on from the success of I Am Love [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Luca Guadagnino - director
film profile
Luca Guadagnino is back behind the camera for a feature film, A Bigger Splash [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Luca Guadagnino
film profile
, presented in competition at the Venice Film Festival. It is a remake of the Jacques Deray classic The Swimming Pool, starring Alain Delon and Romy Schneider. The movie was shot on the island of Pantelleria and stars an international cast that includes Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson, Matthias Schoenaerts and Corrado Guzzanti. The main characters are a rock legend and a band manager. "Rock 'n' roll as a die-hard, pleasurable experience, as a symbol of total freedom," explains Guadagnino. “But in it, I also wanted to show defeat."

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Cineuropa: How did you come to choose Pantelleria as a location?
Luca Guadagnino: I wanted the landscape to work like a powerful brand of reality and like a mirror that reflected the conflicts. Pantelleria is a brutal place, sat on top of a volcano and blasted by winds like the sirocco and the mistral; it was originally used as a prison and then gradually evolved into a tourist location. It’s not a place that’s at peace with itself. 

It’s also Europe’s final frontier. How did you make rock 'n' roll and migrants interact?
At the risk of sounding pompous, my idea of cinema is the one I learned from Bernardo Bertolucci, who in turn cited Renoir: in film, you need to leave the door to reality open. Nevertheless, our movie talks about the very private lives of these four characters, which the external elements of the location ended up penetrating. I was interested in the theme of migrants to the extent that the film underlined their kind of “otherness” compared to the main characters, and I wanted to examine how this otherness relates to us. 

How did it compare with the original, The Swimming Pool?
When they suggested that I come back to that film, I’d seen it only once, when I was 15 years old. I tried to watch it with screenwriter David Kajganich, but the Blu-ray didn’t work. It’s a story that’s been seen a thousand times, The Rules of the Game by Jean Renoir... I was fascinated by it because it allowed me to film the invisible – in other words, desire – as a force and as the essence that is the driving force behind everything, and which produces extreme results. 

Again, as was the case for I Am Love, will people start saying that you’re making films that tip their hat to US audiences?
I’d like to clear things up regarding that misunderstanding. It’s not a matter of a film taking the form of an off-the-peg Italy, ready-made for international tastes, or of making a picture postcard, but rather of portraying our closeness. Besides, I found that the biggest admirers of I Am Love were in South Korea, Sweden and Turkey.

You often choose foreign actors for your films.
It’s in Italian cinema’s DNA: Barbara Steele for Mario Bava, Ingrid Bergman for Rossellini and Lou Castel for Bellocchio. They are foreign bodies that burst onto the nation’s screens. After all, to paraphrase Truman Capote, cinema, having no boundaries, has no geography. Cinema is the ability to understand reality in a way that reaches across the board. For me, glamour, celebrities and the star system are not the be-all and end-all.

(Translated from Italian)

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