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CANNES 2024 Cannes Première

Alain Guiraudie • Regista di Miséricorde

“Approfondendo il discorso, ho riscoperto come la religione cattolica sia antropofaga”


- CANNES 2024: Il cineasta francese parla del suo nuovo film, un mix di generi che ruota attorno alla segretezza, alla forza del desiderio, al crimine e al cristianesimo in un piccolo villaggio

Alain Guiraudie • Regista di Miséricorde
(© Fabrizio de Gennaro/Cineuropa)

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French director Alain Guiraudie, a one-of-a-kind filmmaker in the current panorama of European cinema, talks to us about his newest film, Misericordia [+leggi anche:
intervista: Alain Guiraudie
scheda film
, screened in the Cannes Première section of the 77th Cannes Film Festival.

Cineuropa: How did you choose the location for the shoot and the story, and what characteristics were you looking for?
Alain Guiraudie: It's quite simple: I was looking for a small village. I wanted a village with a church in the middle, which isn't usually all that hard to find, with forests surrounding it. And most importantly, I wanted a village that could be seen from a great distance. In other words, to be able to see the village from a distance but still get close to it. It had to be a village with a slightly traditional feel, but which also felt timeless, with a mix of older and more modern houses. The village I chose was one that I knew a little bit about. I scouted around to make sure there was a presbytery and a church, for example, and that there was a suitable house for the story.

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Is this village still inhabited?
That's a good question. Because when I discovered it, I was surprised to find that there was hardly anyone living there anymore. There were houses that were crumbling or threatening to crumble. Then, when I went back there five or six years later to start filming Misericordia, I was surprised to see that everything had been bought up again. Lots of the houses had been restored. 

The forest plays an important role in the film, both aesthetically and narratively. What does it represent?
Forests, especially in autumn, are very beautiful places, but they’re also very disturbing. They’re also traditional settings for storytelling. I don't really know what it represents for me. But it's certainly a place where you feel a bit more alone than anywhere else. You can feel isolated very quickly in a forest.

Was there any particular crime story that inspired your film?
No, not exactly. But I'm very interested in crime stories. And I think there are parallels between my story and some fairly recent cases in France, when you think of the bodies that remain unaccounted for and the people who have disappeared. The inspiration for my story is a mix of news and Greek tragedy. There's a man who has just killed a son, who takes the place of a father. A bit like the Oedipal complex.

The Church has a strong presence in history. What role do you see it playing in our society today?
There are hardly any priests left in the countryside. They're all very old and tired, or young and black. But they have a lot of churches to look after. People go to church less and less often, they know less and less about its practices. I've been immersed in these spheres for the past few years. I've also just published a book about the adventures of a parish priest. I was baptised and given Holy Communion, and I grew up with Christian mythology, so it's still an important part of my culture. I tell myself that I have to accept it, it's an important part of my cultural heritage. As I delved deeper into it, I rediscovered, for example, how the Catholic religion is anthropophagous. In the Catholic religion, we eat Christ's body at the Eucharist and we drink his blood. There are some very erotic elements involved too. The priest is a figure caught between tradition and modernity. He’s both conservative and very progressive, as is his approach to crime and his judgement of other people’s fault.

What did your lead actor, Félix Kysyl, bring to the role and what did you want from him?
He's a complex and ambiguous character, both an angel and a devil. He has a gentle but also a very violent side to him. As an actor, Félix has a simplicity about him that I really like. He's also very expressive and incredibly subtle.

What were the most important elements in the film’s aesthetic?
Autumn was crucial. We chose the dates very carefully, looking at the year before, when the leaves and trees turned yellow. Apart from the autumnal colours, I tried to do something very simple, following the natural light.

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