by writer/director Luca Guadagnino
I can remember the moment when I first decided that I wanted to become a director. I was a young boy watching Lawrence of Arabia on my mother’s lap in a theatre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where I spent my childhood. There was something about the magnificence of Lean’s film that resonated with the vastness of the Africa of my youth and got deeply under my skin. Ever since, I have felt the influence of that day in my vision of cinema and my attitude as a director.
Many years later I made a short film with Tilda Swinton called “The Love Factory,” and during that process we had an idea for the movie that would become I Am Love.
I Am Love is the movie where I express my desire to talk the language of the cinema, a language that is visual in its tone, mysterious in its rhythm and risky in its attitude.
I started drafting a simple story, inspired by any number of the 19th century Russian and German novels that you could have found in my flat in Rome seven years ago. I had this image of a woman alone in a big house (and now that I write this, I recall that Hitchcock’s Rebecca was another big inspiration) and started from there. What was she thinking and feeling? What role does she play in her family and what are the aspirations in her life?
With Tilda and my bold screenwriters (Barbara Alberti and Walter Fasano, who was also my editor) we developed this very quiet character, Emma, and her milieu—the very elite, haute bourgeois in Milan. We wanted to explore individuality in a world of formality and to see how love could play as violent subversive force. Love as a means of finding freedom from the roles imposed on us. Ultimately love and femininity as two partners in a crime that will shake the house to its core.
I have always been convinced that cinema is a thing of mystery, and that you can’t express or explain this mystery through storytelling and narrative alone. I am also convinced that the world of women is dense with this same mysterious quality that the cinema has. My dream was to have these two worlds “make love”—that I think is the greatest goal for a director. Whether or not we succeeded is for you to say. As we say in Italy, buona vision!