An interview with Giuseppe Tornatore
- Submitted by: admin
- Arts and Culture
- culture an traditions
- Culture and Traditions
- 01 / 12 / 2010
Amaury Pérez: Welcome to the TV program Contracorriente. We are in the ICAIC study, in Prado and Trocadero streets, in the heart of Havana City, and great Italian filmmaker Giuseppe Tornatore accompanies us with an overwhelming kindness.
Good night, thanks for coming to Cuba. What was the feeling you had regarding Cuba before coming here?
Giuseppe Tornatore: My opinion was totally determined by what I watched on the news, the images broadcasted. I must confess that I was astonished when I reached Havana. The people caused a good sensation on me, their generosity and joy touched me very much.
It is a pity that I can only stay for a short period of time. I have seen very little, but I was absolutely fascinated with the public. The meeting with the public has been very beautiful. I can feel in the audience when people feel well and Cubans are extremely affectionate, generous, curious...It moved me a lot.
Amaury Perez: "Did you imagine Cuban people could know about your work here?
Giuseppe Tornatore: No, I thought they knew just a movie. However, I've noticed that people know a lot of my films. I was asked many questions, including journalists, and it also gave me much pleasure. This is a job that can give you much more satisfaction than you may expect.
Amaury Perez: I had the opportunity to watch Baaria at the premiere in Havana. Without free flattery, I confess I left the theatre in shock. Aren’t you afraid that the profession kill the innocent child, the young of your early films?
Giuseppe Tornatore: No, I am well aware that sometimes giving much importance to the profession, technique, can empty the content of the story. I have always tried to exorcise the risk because my guide and my background in my work are the people,
their feelings, and their destinies. I always try to safeguard the emotions authenticity in my actors, my characters, my stories, making the best of techniques, but preventing they prevail, which would be an unforgivable mistake.
Amaury Perez: I feel a beautiful relationship among Cinema Paradiso, Malena and Baaria. For example, I remember that the character of Cinema Paradiso says "this place is mine," and then in Malena it is said "change dollars." Do you accept that
among these three films there is a relationship?
Giuseppe Tornatore: That’s right. I have not thought of it in Malena, but I must confess that Cinema Paradiso and Baaria are totally connected. There are two stories that are linked each other. They could even be a single film.
Amaury Perez: When I watched the copy of Cinema Paradiso for first time, I realized that there were 54 more minutes. You said in an interview that producer Franco Cristaldi had requested a shorter version, and there is even a female character that
disappeared off the best-known version of this film. What is that?
Giuseppe Tornatore: The first time the film came to light it was a disaster. It did not like anyone. The film lasted long.
They said that the lack of success was because it was too long. I was just pleased, actually, because I believed much in that film.
I was convinced that the length was the problem to some extent, and I cut an entire chapter, a great cut. When the protagonist, already grown, returns to the country and found the girl, all this sentimental brackets was deleted.
Then, the film lasted two hours and five minutes. And the film came to light again, and again it was a disaster. On the one hand, it had shown what I thought, that the problem was not the time duration. Moreover, I felt somewhat disappointed.
I understood that the film had no other possibility. Afterwards, the film was invited to the Cannes Film Festival, and obviously we sent the short version.
The film had a huge success of criticism, the public and especially the market. It was bought by many countries, and from that moment on the film became a huge success that never ends since 20 years ago, and every time I go to a country, to submit any of my films, the fourth question of the journalist is Cinema Paradiso. Then, thanks to the U.S. producer and distributor of the film, we made a DVD with the original version.
Amaury Perez: You have worked with great actors: Marcello Mastroianni, Gerard Depardieu, Roman Polanski...a huge list, but with newcomers like Monica Bellucci and Ksenia Rappoport. How do you handle the fact that actors often speak different
Giuseppe Tornatore: Working with actors is what I love the most in my profession. I love them a lot and try to protect them, because I can make a mistake in my films: as to the clothing or the scenery, or lights, but if my actors are in perfect harmony with the character I have written, the film can be saved.
I can make the best photography of the world, the most beautiful, but if my actors do not know how to restore the essence of my characters, everything falls in deaf ears. So I try to find actors who better fit my characters. If a character leads me to a great actor, I look for him or her. But if the character has the characteristics of the unknown, such as in La sconosciuta, I can go out and look around the world to find
that person that convinces me. One of the most interesting aspects of a film is the pursuit of the actor, fair face, fair voice, and a look that should restore the true essence of the character.
Amaury Perez: "Do you always do the casting?
Giuseppe Tornatore: Always.
Amaury Perez: There is a subject that can not be disregarded, the subject Tornatore-Morricone. Can you conceive your movies without Ennio Morricone’s music?
Giuseppe Tornatore: If I had to mention the thought of Ennio Morricone, my answer is yes. You can imagine my movies without the Morricone’s music. He has a very disappointed vision of the relationship between image and music related to image.
However, I am pretty much convinced of what he does, and how important is the code that allows you to find an effective and harmonious relation with the film soundtrack. Having said all this, the relationship with Ennio is quite important.
We have both a high affinity. I love music very much, but I can not write it or read it. To make myself understood, I must resort to long puns, allegories he manages to collect and transfer into music. We have worked hard.
Our collaboration has been very complex in each of the films because we do not feel pleased with ease. We always try to find the best solution and we never give anything for granted. We started working on the musical score for the film long before shooting begins.
Amaury Perez: The other day at the Riviera movie theatre, when we met, I asked you for your project Leningrad. There has been speculation in the Spanish press that you have not started to shoot it because you are waiting for Nicole Kidman. Is it true?
Giuseppe Tornatore: I have worked and I'm still working on a script that started in 2004. I have never stated that I had thought of Nicole Kidman, she was the one who talked to the journalists. The film has not been done for other reasons. At that time (2004), I had thought of her and Nicole was very excited about the project. In the future, perhaps I do it with Nicole, or just another actress.
Amaury Perez: What do you know about Latin American and Cuban cinema?
Giuseppe Tornatore: In Italy, almost anything. In fact, these days we have spoken with friends who have organized my retrospective exhibition here in Havana and the executives of ICAIC to publicize Cuban cinema in Italy. But I would like, thinking about this initiative, to circulate in my country the products of Cuban cinema, which I think is very vibrant, with a great desire to narrate. I've seen some things in these days, a short anthology of some films and I feel great vitality of expression, and would be very good that these can be known. Tomas Gutierrez Alea is well known; Suite Habana, by Fernando Perez, is known, but others are not.