Why make a movie about love–the king of clichés? In fact
why make a movie when there is Hitchcock, Godard, Tarkovsky and Carax?
I guess the existentialist question here would be why make anything–but
let’s try not to be too deep. Let’s keep it simple and I’ll
try to give a simple answer to a) Why cinema? and b) Why love?
So why cinema? I could say that for nostalgic reasons I’m in
love with cinema and it has taught me life. That might tell something
about myself and who I am–but who cares. The easy and probably
most accurate explanation is that cinema has made me raving insane with
a feeling that there is something I need to say and the way to do it
is through twenty-four frames a second (when not shown on television).
Twenty-four frames that are so much more than just a second. These twenty-four
frames are life. True life. Much richer, fuller, more interesting, endearing,
wonderful (and sometimes in an unlucky situation, more boring) than
anything else we might come up with. So cinema it is.
But don’t we have all the masterpieces we need? We do and we
don’t. Art doesn’t purify itself, nor does it become bigger,
better and stronger over time (although some Hollywood movies seem to).
Individual artists do in some cases grow/mature/become better. Vertigo
is made by a master; Secret Agent is made
by someone with the potential to become one. But art as such doesn’t
really become better or worse–it just changes. Different times
and developing technology demand new ways of telling the same old stories.
We keep trying to get to the essence of things–and that essence
is often easier to find when you’re removed from it, when you’re
observing it, rather than when you’re experiencing it. Ergo: there
will never be enough movies...but the earlier ones will probably always
seem better. Make any sense? Probably not–it does to me.
Then there is the question of subject. Love. In many ways that’s
simple too. There are things in life you can only do once. You get that
one chance and if you blow it, well then you blow it. A debut film is
one of those things. You can only make it once (which is why I’ve
made one and a half–but that’s a different story that I
won’t tell you). If this were to be my first (and maybe last)
movie, the project had to be a labor of love, an homage and not an exercise
in intertextuality. What do you love? I love cinema, Copenhagen, Fred
Astaire, a woman, a man, a lot of cigarettes and a fucked up narrative.
And let’s not forget the actors. I knew I wanted to work with
Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Maria Bonnevie. When they look at each other love
is in the air. So why make it so difficult? Let’s play the tune
when it’s already there.
So that’s what I’ve been trying to do–to be as simple
and honest about something you can’t say and you can’t make.
Because you can’t say, “I love you.” You can’t
make a close-up. It’s all been said and done. It’s a cliché
the minute you think about it. There is no virgin ground left to dance
on, but that doesn’t stop you from wanting to find it, from wanting
to pick out that secluded spot no one has seen and to say to your lover
those words no one has said. But it’s an illusion, like cinema.
Sometimes illusions work–and often they work just because they
are illusions. The hypnotic fascination of magicians exists, not in
spite of, but because of the illusion. The cards are not magic, the
body doesn’t float in the air–and we love it exactly because
of that. We’re looking at a wonderful lie. Cinema works the same.
No matter how much we know about the technique of moviemaking, no matter
how many deleted scenes, alternative endings, directors’ commentaries
we look at, when the movie begins it still works (if it’s good).
So that’s what I’ve been trying to do. To tell a beautiful
lie I wish I could believe. The lie of love.