ONAs we started to content ourselves with our conversation, I told British writer and director Mike Leigh that this was not the first time I sat down in his presence to hear him answer questions about his work. About five years ago, he spoke to a student program that I attended on the occasion of the Mr. TurnerUS premiere. Before I could even finish my sentence, Leigh let me know that he did not intend to attend such student symposia again because "it always takes half an hour and you should schedule at least two hours or one and a half hours because you can not do anything at this time say.
This episode predicted much of what was announced in my interview with the respected filmmaker who was in New York to promote the theatrical release of his newest film. Peterloo, a dramatization of the 1819 Peterloo massacre. First, it is impossible to cover all the nuances and nuances of his famous improvisational character-building process in a short time. Secondly, Leigh will speak whatever is in his head, be it a simple one-word answer, if such an answer is sufficient, or a grandiose refutation of the premise of a question. To be clear: it is a right that the sevenfold Oscar candidate has more than earned.
During our conversation about PeterlooLeigh discussed how he incorporated authentic historical speeches and writings into the dialogue of his characters, why he dissipated academic ideas during regulation, and the seemingly non-invasive process of making a historical film more contemporary through the complete adoption of the past.
The last time I heard you speak, you described your approach Mr. Turner look at a locked time, drop an anchor and investigate everything. Had that also true, if you made your way Peterloo?
How does your improvisation process fit into a project? Peterloo where both historical records and rhetoric play such a big role?
Well, the oratory is a part of it, we come back to the oratory. You can research and read all the books in the world until you're blue in the face, but that does not make it possible in front of the camera. We talk about flesh and blood, every moment we live, three-dimensional characters. The fact that it may be a dramatization of a historical event may be true, but the use of improvisation and exploration of the character has yet to happen to breathe life into it. Through the Peterloo massacre you can read in considerable detail what happened and we have learned a great deal from it. But that does not really make it possible. People will get up in their costumes and talk and act. Improvisations are the way to perform character work and to bring events into being, which we call scenes.
In terms of the fact that one of the elements is what people actually said, that's not news in my period films either. Turner on his deathbed apparently said "The sun is god". Constable actually said when Turner went to his painting and put a red spot on it to become a little boy: "He was here and fired a gun." were in the script. It is a scene in Insane where Gilbert and Sullivan sit on a sofa and drink tea, and Sullivan says he only wants to write operas, and Gilbert tries to read the librettos to him. Much of what they said in this conversation came from letters they had written in correspondence, but we have made it a natural dialogue.
All that has to be said is that the whole series of events is Peterloo There were a lot of things that people say are from speeches they actually made, things they actually said, things they said in letters. We researched these and included them in the script, sewed them seamlessly and made them an organic part of the whole. We reworked them a lot, we reorganized them, we let them work for characterizing the actors we do. But we still stuck to the ghost and in some cases the actual substance and the words that people actually said. So let me tell you, do not be distracted by the idea that there is a contradiction between the improvisational approach that makes everything possible and the fact that part of the material is original text.
In terms of incorporation, you have spoken with what you are doing at your end. Is there something else for the actors?
Yes of course. They do the same to me, and we do it together. There is a difference between everything that eventually comes out in the rehearsal, the written scene that arises from something organic that the actor spontaneously said as a character in a situation, and the reading of something. But then we talk about where people are manufacturing a speech. The fact that they do just that is different from ordinary domestic behaviors because speaking a speech is not the same as sitting in a home conversation about the weather.
Was it harder or even different for your actors not to know the motivations of the characters of other actors? Peterloo the way the movie becomes a single event? Did you make any changes to your process in response?
Well, they do not know about the other characters, except what they normally experience when we work out the story. It's different in the context of a story where everyone knows what we're doing dramatically, so it's not really true.
Peterloo begins with the Battle of Waterloo, which shoots you and DP Dick Pope first as a shooting shot, which looks around the carnage around a soldier who is gradually becoming a close-up in his face. How did you come to the decision to make such a follow-up event so intimate in European history?
Well, because we say this is the Battle of Waterloo, first there's a label that says the Napoleonic Wars, the Battle of Waterloo, Wellington, all that. You think you're watching another movie and it's a fight, but in fact we know that the function of the scene is to focus on that man. This person. And pretty soon it will be important if you did it with lots of punches and tailor-made or if we do it the way we did. You have to go down quickly and say, "On June 18, 1815, there was this famous battle and there was this guy. "And we go with the guy. It's just what the scene is about. It is said that it is about the battle, but it quickly turns out to be a person. And then, when you see him gradually returning to England – and she did They did not take somebody home with them. After the fight, they were left to their own devices and many died on the way back. It took months; It was really a hassle. And while all this is happening, other things are happening in Parliament and the rest of England.
It seems to be a good distillation …
The opening is a real contrast to the Peterloo massacre itself, which is filmed for a director like you, who often films as much of a scene in a single take as possible, with an enormous number of cuts.
I think that's a bit generalizing. I think sometimes I do. But I would reject the idea that this is a feature. There are famous occasions when I did just that. When you go back and look at any number of sequences, I sometimes do it when appropriate. When Hortense and Cynthia meet in Berlin for the first time Secrets & liesand they sit side by side in the café to play for eight minutes without interruption, it can be said that turning the take is a good discipline. But there is no way to shoot the Peterloo massacre in one take! It's academic and not very worthwhile to talk about, because when you do that, you obviously will have a huge amount of hundreds of things and record some of them with three cameras at the same time. There is no way, and I would not want it, because apart from everything else, the rhythm of this event in the café is perfect. But the chaos and chaos of what happened to Peterloo would not be worth considering, even if it were possible. It is really an irrelevant question.
You said that you do not make films about other films, but you mentioned that you are a student of Eisenstein's work. The sequence of Odessa Steps was an inspiration or a point of contact at all, as government forces aimed their bayonets against unarmed citizens engaged on behalf of the proletariat.
No! I was asked so many times. It was not Ran from Kurosawa. I know these movies, they're in my DNA, but I never thought about it Battleship Potemkin for a fraction of a second at each stage Now you say it and I think, "yeah yeah yeah," but it never crossed my mind. It's not that I do not know the movie. I actually know it backwards! But you do not think about these things. They are there, maybe in your subconscious.
What are you thinking about?
The content! What it's about Tell the audience what's going on It's that easy, no matter in what movie. This is what happens, and let's find out how to investigate this cinematically to tell the story to the audience. That's what comes to my mind. I know it's unbelievably uninteresting, but it's true.
It is interesting! If you do not focus on it –
No no no. That's true too. But what I'm saying is Not thinking about what the genre is, how another movie is, what I'm referring to or any crap because it's irrelevant.
They focus in this sequence on the pain of the victim and not on a spectacle of violence. Is this a projection of your normal guiding principles into a combat sequence?
Yes, it is not by chance a battle. A fight is two opposing forces –
Well, it is a very inappropriate battle.
Well, you see, it's hard to answer that question because it's a premise that's not really relevant. It just seemed that everything that happened in the scene is the natural way of saying what happened.
If you look at your filmography as a whole, your earlier films have looked on their contemporaries, while your newer films focus more on the past. Is that a conscious change?
I did my first periodical Insanefollowed by a contemporary film, All or nothingfollowed by another period movie, Vera Drakefollowed by another contemporary movie, Happy-Go-Lucky, then another contemporary movie, Another year, then another period movie and then another period movie. One can only say that the last two films are period films, and I'm more interested in them.
But why even start?
Just seemed like a good idea.
They say you do not shoot movies about "topics". That was harder, considering how the story of Peterloo seemed to resonate with the present moment?
It would be wrong to say that Peterloo is not a movie with themes. What I meant, if I said that, is my films, and I think so Peterloo is no exception, do a whole lot of things within the whole topic. These are not films without themes, but not simple black and white themes.
I'm not saying that your movies are without themes, but that you seem to start with the content and the characters.
Of course. I have a feeling for what it is about, but these things are all composed. They all come together, part and package. You can not separate each other.
But was it harder to root it in his time? So many filmmakers doing historical plays will turn a movie from the 1800s, wink and tell us that it's about to happen.
I think you are right. Many filmmakers fall into this trap. They begin to compromise what's in the movie. They say, "Let's not start the dialogue phase, people will not understand. Let's not have the women in corsets, let's lower the necklines, it's sexy. "And they do not help the audience believe that they are looking at something that really happened. Even if it happened just now 200 years ago.
Apart from me and my co-workers enjoy The challenge of grasping how people talked, how they behaved, what they had on, what a place looked like, and so on, when I started making periodicals InsaneI said, "Let's do a historical movie that does not just look like a costume drama. Let's make it so that you really believe that they are real people with real problems and real worries. Doing a job that we all do. "So those are the criteria.
The task of a historical film, which means something for a contemporary audience, can best be achieved by making it as period-appropriate as possible. The matter of contemporary public understanding can only be contemporary. The audience only understands how to interpret something based on their own experience. You just go to a museum and look at a sculpture from two thousand years ago, and you can only really decipher, understand and empathize with it as you are now. In the end, history can only be understood from the perspective of today's world anyway. In a sense, the currency of a historical film cares about how it will be meaningful to the contemporary audience.