Bonifacio Angius • Director of The Giants
“The Giants is a declaration of love”
by Teresa Vena
- The Italian helmer’s thriller with western elements is taking part in Locarno’s international competition
Italian director Bonifacio Angius has presented The Giants [+see also:
interview: Bonifacio Angius
film profile], a thriller with western elements set in a small Sardinian village, in competition at the Locarno Film Festival. It gathers a group of friends struggling with their relationship and seeking refuge in alcohol and drugs. We met up with the director, who spoke about his inspiration and the aesthetic concept of the film.
Cineuropa: What was the starting point and the inspiration for the film?
Bonifacio Angius: I had the idea for the film a few years ago but didn't start with the production right away. Then I came back to it and wrote the script very fast. In four weeks, it was ready, and six weeks later, we were shooting. It was during the time of complete lockdown during the pandemic in Italy, and was shot in a small village in Sardinia. We had to follow the health-and-safety protocols, which forced us together even more tightly. We became a family, and the whole project made me feel as if I was in a frenzy. I had so many roles, as a director, producer, editor and also actor, that in the end I looked at the movie and asked myself, “But who made this?” The pandemic was a very difficult time for me. It felt like a horrendous pain. I really thought that would be the end of everything and that I would never be able to make films any more. This is why I wanted the movie to have the most complex characters that I could think of, to create a contrast with the tendency nowadays to simplify everything.
Are drugs corrupting everything we do and have?
Drugs are, first and foremost, a visual element for me. I used this motif to craft a simple and immediate narrative. The film focuses more on the concept of self-destruction that people have. I don't see this force in any one single human being, but rather in humanity as a whole. Our responsibility for this is a more global one. The film is meant as a work of philosophy; it can also be considered an act of self-sabotage. Moreover, the movie is intended to strike a balance between the tragic and the comical. It has something destabilising about it as well as something nostalgic and romantic.
How did you develop the aesthetic concept of the film?
My inspiration came from La Grande Bouffe by Marco Ferreri, to which I wanted to add a western perspective. I see the film as being akin to works by Sergio Leone and Luchino Visconti. The most beautiful parts, in my opinion, are the flashbacks that recall the atmosphere of Visconti's films. We wanted to reproduce the western aesthetics meticulously by using the right technique. We had lenses that are not used any more today and which were hard to find, but they evoke a picture that is very similar to 35 mm. The contrast between the dark and light spots was very important and was meant to bring to mind the so-called Spaghetti Western.
What was the most important element when coming up with the concept of the film?
The feature takes the form of a Greek tragedy. It also has all of the elements of it – the divine, the guilt, the catastrophe. And most importantly, the topic of love is the main focus of it. Some have said that the film is misogynistic because women are not present. But actually, it's precisely their physical absence that makes them so essential to the story. The film is a declaration of love, more specifically to my own partner. The characters have a difficult relationship with love and are constantly thinking about it.
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