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Gabriele Salvatores • Director

The Invisible Boy, the Italian route to fantasy


- Cineuropa interviewed Oscar winner Gabriele Salvatores for the release of his latest movie, about a teenage superhero.

Gabriele Salvatores  • Director

"The Italian road to fantasy" is how Gabriele Salvatores defines his new movie, The Invisible Boy [+see also:
film review
interview: Gabriele Salvatores
film profile
. This is the story of Michele, played by Ludovico Girardello, a teenager whose life will change all of a sudden when one day, looking at himself in the mirror, he will realise that he’s become invisible.

Cineuropa: Where did the idea for a film about a young invisible superhero come from?
Gabriele Salvatores: The birth of the project came from one of the producers, Nicola Giuliano, who had the idea five years ago. It was simply about wanting to make a movie that even her kids could enjoy. I liked the idea of dealing with the invisibility power and of telling a story about teens once again, with a genuine and adventurous plot, in which at some point there’s also potential for a super heroine. I drew on authors that I love, like Jack London and Joseph Conrad. I wanted to include various themes like the secret friend, the mirror, the double, the person within us. Teen bullying is also in there, and that leads to the challenge and the anger that serves as a means of building another world for oneself. This part was thanks to the intuition of the three screenwriters. There was no 14-year-old superhero, but here we don’t see him fighting to save the world, rather he’s fighting against the monsters of daily life.

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Originally the film was supposed to be an Italian-Irish co-production, in English, with a potentially international appeal. Why did you change your mind?
The initial idea was to make an Italian movie. Discouraged by the difficulties of finding funding for a film with quite a large budget, the producers thought that by filming it in English it would be easier to obtain financing, having a broader market. But, at a certain point we exchanged views and we realised that we were losing the real thrust of the project, namely a film with a young Italian superhero. And so we filmed it in Trieste, where the Irish James Joyce lived!

Which superhero comics were you mainly influenced by?
I was born in the 50s, so for me superheroes were characters like Mao Zedong. I didn’t read comics much when I was younger. The only one I used to read, although it wasn’t a superhero comic, was Flash Gordon. Later on, comics became a part of my life, being very closely related to film. One character I’ve always loved is Corto Maltese by Hugo Pratt. Then there were also the great sci-fi illustrators, Enki Bilal and Moebius. And finally, only later, Spiderman came along.

In The Invisible Boy I see the X-Men movies, but also Let the Right One in [+see also:
film review
interview: John Nordling
interview: Tomas Alfredson
film profile
by Swedish director Tomas Alfredson.

I really like the diversity and the alienation that the X-Men represent. Having a power means being different, and in this film it’s also a kind of curse and an illness. What’s more, we wanted to pay tribute to a certain genre of 80s film, like The Goonies, Gremlins, with kids that stumble into adventures that lead them to grow and mature.  Steven Spielberg was the first to combine science fiction and the reality of his characters. We also tapped into darker films like Watchmen and Unbreakeable, which have a particular way of narrating superheroes, a way that’s more familiar to us. And obviously I adore Let the Right One in; it’s very similar to The Invisible Boy

Lots of special effects are used in the film, that’s a novelty for an Italian film.
We tried to do what’s usually deemed good editing: namely not to be too noticed. It’s easy to make a spaceship explode, but it’s a lot more difficult to make a glass levitate as if someone was drinking from it. There are loads of special effects, but our goal was to make them as unnoticeable as possible, to make them seem normal.

The film is open-ended: will there be a sequel?
The hanging finale is typical of this genre. We hope that people will want to see another one; we’re already considering a follow-up. I’ve read the beginning of the potential sequel written by the screenwriters and there might be an invisible girl...

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(Translated from Italian)

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