canada goose trillium sale An Interview with Alan Parker

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Q: Can you go back and tell me a bit about the very early involvement you had with Evita?

ALAN PARKER: I was first asked to do the film of Evita in 1979. I was actually the first to be asked to do it. At the time I’d just finished Fame and didn’t really want to do another musical. So it’s had many lives in between. Now I’m back doing it first and last.

ALAN PARKER: Well, the previous films that I’ve made with music were all very different, actually. Fame was a conventional stop/start musical, in that there is conventional dialogue, dramatic scenes intercut with music, and the music in that film came out of situations that were sort of realistic in that it was a high school for performing arts. It was different from Bugsy, which was an out and out pastiche of a Hollywood musical. I did Pink Floyd: The Wall, which was unusual again, in that it was trying to tell a story with just imagery and music, but nothing sung. The Commitments was a dramatic story that happened to be about a rock ’n‘ roll band, and therefore the music was very much a part of it, but the music was recorded in a very particular and different way. So they were all really different musically. And Evita is different again in that it’s a sung through piece, it’s musical drama opera, whatever word one wants to use and yet I intend to make it in a naturalistic, contemporary way. The only thing that is musical about it is the fact that people sing instead of using the spoken word. There is no spoken dialogue in it; it’s all sung. But other than that, I’m not making any nods to its being a musical. I’m telling a straightforward, gritty, dramatic, political story. So, in that regard, I think it will still have a contemporary edge, and yet it still has the beauty of the music.

Q: The actors have to act by singing. What difficulties does that pose for you?

ALAN PARKER: The difficulty of doing anything at this stage which is that we’re doing all the music first, then we’re going to do the playback on set is that I have to make dramatic choices before I’m even filming it. And so what I’ve tried to do is to imagine how I’m going to film it, and never forget that these are not people who are on stage doing a musical as in a theater; this is real. Therefore dramatic choices have to be made in order for it to stay naturalistic and be truthful on screen. In that regard I think that this is quite an unusual film. I don’t think it’s ever been attempted before.

Q: So you would say it will be quite a gritty political piece? Tell us the sort of feel you want out of it.

ALAN PARKER: I just intend to make a dramatic film that’s sung, because since the advent of MTV, I think there’s an entire generation that actually has been communicated to with music and images. This is just taking it a bit further in that it has a very, very strong narrative. It’s a very, very strong political film. It’s an extraordinarily interesting story of this particular woman and the times in which she lived. I will make it as if I was making a straightforward dramatic film, like I was making Midnight Express or Mississippi Burning it just happens that people are going to be singing the dialogue, and hopefully be as realistic and naturalistic as possible.

Q: What are some of the problems bringing Evita to the screen?

ALAN PARKER: Well, Evita, as a movie, has had an enormously long gestation period. There have been very good directors involved over the years. I think it’s always been a matter of timing: who was available, what kind of person would play these roles. It’s not an inexpensive film, because we have to re create an entire period, and that’s always difficult. The actual size and scale and scope of the film is a big tapestry, and, being sung through, it’s a whole new form. So, all those ingredients are the reasons why it never got made. I think that in the early days,
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of course, there was a hugely different political climate in Argentina, in that they had a military dictatorship. They’re now a democracy, so they look at things differently and enable us to film there although I think they’re still very wary of what we’re doing. In Argentina, there is no objective view of history with regards to this woman, Eva Per People are either for her or against her. Many people see her as a very bad woman, and many people see her as a saint. Of course, what’s interesting is that she wasn’t either of those things. And so obviously you’re not going to please everyone down in Argentina. They also are learning to be a democracy, so the idea of us being allowed to do what we want to do is kind of tricky for them to adjust to. But, you know, as I’ve said to them, no true democracy should be afraid of art.

Q: Is it important for you to film in Argentina?

ALAN PARKER: The reason that I wanted to be in Argentina is that however tricky it is for us (and it isn’t easy logistically it’s very difficult), that’s where the heart of this film, the spirit of this film actually is. It’s just a thing that you have to smell and feel as a film director. Although we’re not going to film the whole film there, I want as much as I can possibly get out of Argentina, to be truthful to that place, and the time that the story is set. It’s a psychological thing for me as much as anything else.

Q: Madonna, Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Pryce can you tell us how you got along with them and how they’re standing up so far?

ALAN PARKER: Well, I’ve been doing music now for the last three months, and we’ve done about 400 hours of recording. It’s been a colossal undertaking in that regard, and quite difficult, because there are many different kinds of music in the piece. You know, it’s sort of glibly referred to sometimes as a rock opera, but it actually has many different kinds of music from Latin music to very serious music to out and out rock ’n‘ roll all of which are difficult in a recording situation. There are four main sung parts. Obviously Madonna is playing Eva Per Antonio Banderas is playing the character Ch who is the narrator of the piece. Jonathan Pryce is playing Juan Per and Jimmy Nail is playing the tango singer, Agust Magaldi. So those four are very different. I mean, the most work obviously had to be put in with regards to Madonna, because she’s got the lion’s share of the singing to do, and she’s been here in London doing that. I think she’s done extraordinarily well, considering that much of this music is actually in an area of her voice where she’s never been before. I think she’s certainly worked extraordinarily hard in expanding what her voice can do. People are going to be surprised at how brilliantly she’ll sing it. She now has to make another adjustment, which is to be on a film set, which is different to being in a recording studio. Antonio I think people will be surprised because he is an actor, primarily, who actually sings remarkably well. That’s obviously important. I could have gone with a singer who acts, but I’ve gone with an actor who sings. Jonathan is an actor who sings also. Jimmy, on the other hand, he’s a little bit of both.

It’s been quite grueling because of the different kinds of music. I mean, the music has involved many different people. It involves the original creators of the piece Andrew Lloyd Webber with regards to the music, and Tim Rice with regards to the lyrics. It involves rock ’n‘ roll bands, gigantic orchestras, huge choirs. Emilio Estefan has done some of the Latin pieces. I mean, it’s terribly complex and, in a funny kind of way, I feel like I’m doing two films back to back.
canada goose trillium sale An Interview with Alan Parker