Size of the Talent
The inspiration for 20 Centimeters came from
watching all those glorious musicals that made stars out of Fred Astaire,
Ginger Rogers, Elvis, Marisol, Cyd Charisse and Judy Garland. I certainly
wanted to create a film that honored the movie musical genre.
We intended to incorporate the drama of Marieta’s life into a
musical comedy by combining the colorful stories of a prostitute with
a dreamer who, in the midst of struggle, finds creative ways to survive.
Society normally would view these characters as “losers”
but I see them as strong, passionate “winners” who pool
all their resources together to obtain their dreams.
In a way, the musical numbers represent her psyche because, on the surface,
Marieta isn’t a cultured person. But she follows her intuition
and in her dreams, Marieta’s fantasies are the result of her cultural
Mónica Cervera is the star of 20 Centimeters. I wrote
this musical especially for her. She was my inspiration before, during
and after making the film. I don’t believe that anyone could have
interpreted the character of Marieta with the same devotion, passion
and versatility. And we made the film the old-fashion way, by having
Mónica do her own singing and dancing. I guess in a way, I see
Mónica as an icon who is ready for her moment in the spotlight.
And in honoring my icons, I directed Mónica to embrace the personas
of great divas like Liza Minnelli, Marisol, Marilyn Monroe, Ann-Margret,
Marlene Dietrich, the Warhol Factory girls and even a little bit of
Mick Jagger. She certainly was up to the task but also brought her own
special uniqueness to the role.
In making the film, I tapped into influences that sparked emotional
memories for me. The “ingredients” are quite diverse: famed
Spanish composer Augusto Algueró, the films of Vincente Minnelli,
the rock of Freddie Mercury, the best stage moments of Madonna and a
good dash of Alaska & Dalida.
I also wanted to pay homage to the pure-blooded energy of choreographer
Jerome Robbins plus add a little bit of Fellini for good measure. You’ll
also find a fusion of inspiration from Michelangelo Antonioni’s
La Notte, the photography of Nan Goldin and Diane Arbus, the lifestyle
of Brazil, danceable pop music, Jacques Demy, MGM musicals, lyricist
Arthur Freed and even shades of Bye Bye Birdie.
In fact, my two favorite movie musicals are West Side Story because
of Jerome Robbins and All That Jazz because Bob Fosse is simply
I humbly raise many glasses to toast all the artists who inspired me
to make 20 Centimeters.