llrzysztot Kleslowsltl: ‘horn rnlserahllst.’
The emotional territory that his films repeatedly penetrate is surely a slgnltlcant part oi all ot our lives . . . you’re looking at the work of a director who wants to think about how and why we live and love and hate and die.
fodder, then such is the way of the ﬁlm world. Yet the emotional territory that his ﬁlms repeatedly penetrate is surely a signiﬁcant part of all of our lives. Watch the Dekalog or The Double Life Of Veronique or Three Colours: Blue and you’re looking at the work of a director (and let’s not forget his regular co- writer Krzysztof Piesciewicz) who wants to think about how and why we live and love and hate and die as we all do. These days, it seems that all too few of the world’s moviemakers have the courage or the talent to ask the Big Questions any more — you’ll certainly not ﬁnd too many recent Hollywood movies that probe as deep as Kieslowski’s achievements. If this is what makes them ‘difﬁcult’ for viewers used to being told what to think and feel, instead of ﬁnding their own reaction to the screen, then so be it.
Kieslowski himself won’t preach to his
prospective audience, nor is he under any illusions about stealing Spielberg’s audience away from him. ‘The viewer ought to go and see what he can see,’ is the Pole’s central position. ‘That’s all I have to say. I can tell a story, that’s my profession and the rest I have to leave to the viewer in the hope that perhaps he’ll ﬁnd something more than just the story. For some, I know the story is enough. I probably make my ﬁlms for quite a small number of people in the world. My problem is that that number should cover the cost of the ﬁlm; then I feel I’ve actually earned the right to take the camera out of the box. C] Three Colours: Blue runs at the Edinburgh Filmhouse until Saturday 13 November and at the Glasgow Film Theatre from Friday 26 ' November until Sunday 5 December. The Double Life Of Veronique also returns to both cinemas in November and is available on Tartan Video. The Dekalog is available as a double-pack set from Artiﬁcial Eye Video. Kieslowski 0n K ieslowski is published by Faber Lat £14.99.
10 The List 5—1 8 November 1993
It’s a long way from London’s homeless-ﬁlled streets to the sun and sand of Cannes, but young British actor DAVID THEWLIS brought the two together when his performance in Mike Leigh’s Naked won the 1993 Best Actor Palme. He talked to Alan Morrison about the darker side of modern life.
STRIPPEI To THE
e’s the anti-hero for the 905. A bitter, cynical ﬁipside to the Thatcher ideal. A literate modern-day Ulysses wandering through a bleakly apocalyptic London while spewing a witty, bilious. despairing stream of consciousness. Johnny, the northern drifter who trawls the capital in Mike Leigh’s latest ﬁlm Naked. is this and more. He is angry because he cares — the squalor he sees around him forces out an unremitting shout of pain. There is a still from the ﬁlm that shows David Thewlis, the actor who plays Johnny, caught in the midst of an open-mouthed yell; but this isn’t just the inner Expressionist torment of Munch’s The Scream, it’s an emotionally complex cry urging the world to shake itself out of its current slumbering. suffocating state.
‘Johnny is a terrible bully - verbally. emotionally and physically - and a terrible coward because he can’t face the lack of compassion in himself,’ Thewlis explains. ‘lt’s this same lack of passion in the world around him that he condemns and damns throughout the ﬁlm, and it’s his failure to face up to this central part of his character that creates the brutality in him. But having said that, what he is actually creating through his wit and his speech and his intellect is something that is crying out. Even though he posits the idea that God is bad, and good only exists in order to let evil flourish, and we’re damned from the word go, he’s still saying that life is a miracle. There is hope there, in that here is someone in a ﬁlm screaming “Wake up!”. And if we do wake up, if we turn away from this
‘With Mike, you have no idea what you’re letting yourself in for. When you accept
the job, you start with no idea what the film is going to be or who you’re playing.’
apathy and indifference — which are far more
malevolently insidious than extremism or
then we can motivate,
ourselves to do something about what is;
happening in the world.’
It’s a speech not a million miles away from ',
Johnny himself, but where the character is
marked by a selﬁsh aggression. Thewlis’s' argument is no rant: rather an intellectually
committed world view that is spoken in soft Lancashire tones. If
played, it’s because of was developed. Mike Leigh’s improvisational methods have
been mythiﬁed and
contribute ideas and character traits in a series of roughly sketched out scenes, the story developing over rehearsal
there’s more of David Thewlis in Johnny than in any other role he’s j the ' technique by which the character
much imitated: actors are encouraged to
weeks of; as one character is:
played against another. Actors may be an insecure bunch at the best of times but, despite the fact that the horizons are wide and bare at
the outset of a Leigh project, they revel in the creative freedom it offers.
‘With Mike, you have no idea what you’re
letting yourself in for,’ agrees Thewlis. ‘When you accept the job, you start with no idea what the ﬁlm is going to be or who you’re playing; you just know it’s going to be twelve weeks of rehearsals followed by weeks of shooting. You explore yourself, and lay on top of that a veneer of a whole other person who has a set of concerns and ideas and ways of perceiving that are not your own. So a whole new person is
created and christened, given a history and L