Magnus Meyer Arnesen • Director of As I Fall
"Sometimes something seemingly insignificant can change everything, for better or worse"
by Maud Forsgren
- Norwegian director Magnus Meyer Arnesen talks to us about As I Fall, his somewhat controversial first feature film
As I Fall [+see also:
interview: Magnus Meyer Arnesen
film profile] by the Norwegian director Magnus Meyer Arnesen recently closed Haugesund Film Festival in world premiere. The film, distributed by SF Studios in Norway from 21 September, was produced by Den Norske Filmskolen, headquartered in Lillehammer on the site that hosts the Media Centre built for the 1994 Olympic Games. An example of the region’s numerous sustainable environments.
Cineuropa: What strikes me most about your film is the purity of the lines and the shades of blue...
Magnus Meyer Arnesen: The aesthetics, the visual aspect, is very important to me. You could call it stylistic minimalism, but my priority as a creator was to focus on the theme of controversy at the heart of the film, a taboo-subject for some. A young man with a serious addiction ends up caring for a child, his son. It's not about taking pleasure in shocking the audience. My intention was simply to tell a story, sincerely and honestly.
There is a sobriety and latent modesty to the language as well as the images.
The unspoken serves to strengthen the effect and give more weight to certain situations. We chose to put our faith in the actors and the story, fleshing out certain aspects to make sure it was credible.
Who are you referring to when you say 'we'?
I worked most closely with Ivar Taim, the director of photography. I like his precision and his demanding nature. It can be irritating at times, but it’s always beneficial in the end. It helped me to become more aware of my goals, so we knew exactly where we were going even before we started shooting. ‘We’ also refers to the small group of students from the Ecole du Cinéma, who persisted, despite the strict deadlines and financial difficulties – we had to stick with out small allocated budget. Those are just the rules of the game for graduation projects. So we had to outdo ourselves.
You also wrote the screenplay, I think.
Yes, with Kristian Landmark. I had the idea for the film for a long time: I was inspired by my own personal experience, collected testimonials from other people, and also did some research, in order to create this story, with such a sensitive main character in Preben Hodneland.
We often see him in close-up.
I wanted to show Joachim's suffering, suffering that was internal, existential. Preben is a talented, courageous actor, ready to show his weaknesses, his vulnerability. As Charlie Chaplin once said: "'Life is a tragedy when viewed up close, but it's a comedy when you look at the bigger picture."
Joachim works in a restaurant. He leads an almost normal life.
He is being monitored, health-wise, and he is very good at hiding things. He has an ambiguous relationship with this drug, which helps him to live while also destroying him. He is a complex character, strong, weak and irrational, like most of us. And that’s where his humanity lies.
Fakery, concealment, lies... I can't help but think of Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt, a character we could sometimes believe under influence.
I wasn't thinking of Peer Gynt when I wrote the screenplay, but the connection is very interesting. In any case, the very first words uttered in the play are not "Peer, you lie."
How do you view addiction?
I see it as a disease that can be treated. You shouldn't hesitate to ask for help. Despising those who suffer from it is not a solution. An unfortunate comment, or perhaps an outstretched hand or a warm look can make all the difference for these people, who live in unstable equilibrium. It’s sometimes enough for something seemingly insignificant to change everything, for better or worse. The end of my film, which is left open, illustrates and lends itself to different interpretations. I think that there is hope at the end.
(Translated from French)
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