The films I write, I have much more time to work on, develop, research, try to get finance myself, all of those things. But even when you write your own script, you kind of have to keep discarding. I have to deal with this. I think the only way to make a good film is to keep discarding what it is. Did it happen casually or is that you like and also look for period films?
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But what I learned very quickly once we began researching the period is that it is a completely different s than the one we explored in Far From Heaven. It is early s. This is a very different time, a very transitional period, post-war period.
Interview with Todd Haynes - University Press Scholarship
So that was exciting that it made you realize there is not just one s, there were many s, and this brought up all kinds of different specific visual elements and style elements to explore. A lot of it really came from the historical research we were doing and the photojournalism from the period. So it is not the stoplight bright colors of Sirk or other films. And I love that. We had worked in Super 16 on our last film, Mildred Pierce , which was broadcast on HBO, and we loved that experience.
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It brings the grain into the language of the colour as well and it affects the colour, too. There is a dirtier palette. Can you describe it?
The Act of Looking: Todd Haynes on Carol
It is not that very stylized and in some sense overtly expressionistic style of the melodrama, the Sirkian language. It explores naturalism, in a subjective way. TODD HAYNES : Love, maybe, and the way no matter what period you are in, where you are in time, history, culture, that kind of tunnel that you enter when you are falling in love is the same tunnel for everybody. The whole thing was a great experience. I just feel real excitement for all those guys in Still Alice. She has the lifestyle and material things that are valued in our world, but in many ways her encountering of illness is the thing that triggers her worry that maybe something is not quite right in her life.
It was always true for this character, but not something that she was motivated to challenge or look at deeply until her illness. In many ways, her illness is the very thing that shakes her free from her comatose state.
Every experience has been extraordinary. She deserves everything. The Dissolve: How did your conception of Carol change once Moore got the part?
21. I’m So Excited! (2013)
I had just been getting to know her [on screen]. She was starting to be discussed as someone who had a bit of buzz in the industry, and then I saw Short Cuts , and I was sufficiently blown away by her in that. It was an extraordinarily brave performance. But still, this role was so transparent. And I was impressed with how she could make somebody who is that much of a cipher into somebody who you believe is a real person, but not over imbuing it with too much editorializing or second guessing, or kind of winking to the audience.
That took a kind of bravery on her part, and an intuition that I never fully appreciated until she was there in the room doing it for me. All of a sudden, it really was a flesh-and-blood person who was speaking these lines, and that felt like a revelation. She said something similar about having read the script saying she was very excited about it, and she had never read something like it. All she knew is that she had some intuition about it.
They have tremendous powers themselves that you can respect, and you can elicit through all kinds of means. She really understands the complexity of that contract. Is there a moment that really stands out? And so it made headlines. And this was during a very hostile point in the American experience around queerness, right?
Right, this was during the height of gay panic around HIV. So the Republicans came on board and Don Wildmon of the American Family Association made a big stink about a series of public arts issues — the NEA Four, the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition — and in almost every case it was gay representation that was really at the core of it.
All the more so, in a film that could be shown in in theaters across the country. Exactly, and so it brought a great deal of attention to Poison right away, which the publicists loved and the distributors were happy about. I knew that this was an important debate so I had to keep on going on TV and debating Republicans about arts grants and arts financing.
Many of your other films, like Safe , and Far From Heaven take on similar themes of loneliness and isolation. I think I've been drawn to characters who have to confront isolation, who have to confront obstacles or barriers, who are being sort of excluded from their societies in various ways, yeah.
Interview: Todd Haynes, Ed Lachman, and Mark Friedberg
And yet sometimes that isolation is completely in the comfortable bosom of middle class life, where you don't expect to find isolation. Would you say that those fall under a similar theme? Those are really films of defiance!