Interviews with Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Danny Boyle, Aaron Sorkin, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Phyllis Nagy.
The art of darkness
There were not many glitter balls involved in the making of the films we explore this week. With the exception of Todd Haynes’ Carol, which is written by Patricia Highsmith’s friend Phyllis Nagy, and possibly Ridley Scott’s The Martian, a film the veteran director describes as unusual for him as it involves a happy ending, these are serious, weighty works, portraying complex men who journey uncomfortably close to the dark side of the human soul.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who won the best director Oscar for Birdman, moved straight on to The Revenant, a technical tour-de-force in which Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki aim to put the audience right in there with a 19th century frontiersman as he is mauled almost to death by a bear. From the very start of the film, says Inarritu, he wanted to take the audience on a “wild ride”. But he reveals the opening scene of an ambush was so hard to shoot he wept for joy when it was over.
For Cary Joji Fukunaga, the 35-day shoot for Beasts Of No Nation, the harrowing story of a crazed African soldier and his child recruits, felt like 100 days. He became ill with malaria, his crew had dysentery and there were various frustrations inherent to filming in Ghana.
A ravaged post-Second World War Berlin is the bleak setting for much of Steven Spielberg’s Cold War thriller Bridge Of Spies, as Russia starts to build the Berlin Wall and ruthlessly carve Europe in half. Spielberg explains why shooting on film, rather than digital, captured the sense of history.
There’s a sense with all these films they could have only been made with these directors. It’s true, too, of Haynes and Carol, as writer Nagy confirms. She spent two decades on the project, while directors came and went until Haynes breathed life and colour into the film. However Ridley Scott seems surprised to have made a film that has wowed both critics and audiences. “I realised it’s actually OK to feel good when you walk out of the cinema,” he says of The Martian. Think what Mark Watney could have done with a glitter ball.
Louise Tutt, contributing editor