WITH THE MONITOR ON-SET, "I CAN WORK DIRECTLY WITH THE COLOR & LIGHT"
This past Thursday, August 10, José Luis Alcaine received the Vision Award TicinoModa at the 70th Locarno Festival, in Piazza Grande. The lifetime achievement prize (which Alcaine is holding in the photo above, which was taken by Marin Mikelin) is "dedicated to those who have used their talents to trace new perspectives in the world of film." Several Spanish outlets interviewed Alcaine upon the occasion (Alcaine also held a Master Class on stage at the festival the next day, Friday August 11). Here are a couple of excerpts, with the help of Google Translation:
What can you tell us about your future projects with De Palma and Farhadi?
From Farhadi, at the moment, nothing. Of Domino, De Palma, I can say that it is a thriller to which we apply a very genre photograph. In this type of film, I try to avoid monochrome. I do not like movies where everything is blue, or gray or green ... For starters, because it does not do justice to real life. It [life] is not governed by a single tone. In any case, from the point of view of photography, it bothers me because it takes away interest from the film, it makes it fall into monotony. I like to introduce many changes in a single work. Reflect the difference between the light of noon and that of the night; show how it affects the story.
In your work, what has the change from celluloid to digital meant?
Digital brings me closer to painting. Now I get to the set, and on the monitor, I can work directly with the color and light that will be seen at the end. This process happens much faster in digital, and the results are much better. Brian De Palma was surprised with me, because during the first two weeks of filming Domino (shot in digital), he approached me and I confessed that it seemed like I was not doing anything.
[Laughter ... Silence]
Sorry, can I share a reflection?
In the contrast between black and white and color, I realized something obvious, that black and white is anti-natural. When we see in these conditions, we do not see reality. To separate ourselves from it, our subconscious puts us in a different world, which we like because we are unhappy with ours. From the moment we turned to color, reality took over the cinema. The films of Preston Sturges, for example, if we saw them in color, we could not believe them, as they happen in a world other than the real. Color film is too close to our reality, and for this reason it can be rejected.
Héctor Llanos Martínez at El Pais
At age 78, Alcaine does not rest. While awaiting the start of the filming of the drama Everyone Knows, in which Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz will be put under the orders of the Iranian Asghar Farhadi, he’s been filming the thriller Domino, his second collaboration with Brian De Palma. "When I worked with Brian on 'Passion' (2012) I asked him, 'why did you call me?'" he recalls. "He told me that what he likes about me is the way I emphasize the beauty of actresses." Alcaine was born in Tangier, and grew up watching movies of the 40s and 50s in the film club that his father ran. "Those films made their female interpreters look like goddesses, you came out of the movies in love with them." That experience of youth has marked his entire career. "Above all, I am obsessed with capturing your gaze, because it concentrates the emotionality of the story."
His main references, in any case, have always been mainly in the canvases; Those of Caravaggio, of Titian, of Velazquez, of Rembrandt. "When I started making films, there were hardly any examples of color images either on television or in photography, so my references were always pictorial. I would have given anything in exchange for the talent needed to be a painter." In that sense, he regrets that the current cinema has diverted attention to other sources of inspiration. "Today most directors look at advertising and video clips, or are exclusively interested in visually paying homage to the films they love. That makes the image no longer meet what is actually its essential function: to move."