Rohrwacher’s celebrated new feature is her most ambitious and imaginative project to date, an expansion of the oneiric dimension of her earlier work that gently pulls its story of an otherworldly young tobacco worker into the time-unraveling realm of fantasy. Winner of the award for best screenplay at Cannes, Happy as Lazzaro finds Rorhwacher working with a delightfully wider canvas that leaps across time to ambiguously bridge Italy’s feudal past and troubled present while offering a soulful Rip Van Winkle fable about class, capitalism and the mystery of whether innocence is lost, or is simply an apparition. – HG
For more interviews and talks, visit the Harvard Film Archive Visiting Artists Collection page.
Lisa Brown 0:00
October 8, 2018, Harvard Film Archive screened Happy as Lazzaro. This is the recording of the introduction and Q&A that followed. Those participating are filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher and HFA director Haden Guest.
Haden Guest 0:17
My name is Haden Guest. I'm Director of the Harvard Film Archive, and I am really thrilled to welcome tonight, a very special guest, Alice Rohrwacher, who is an Italian filmmaker who is joining us tonight to present her bewitching and really beautiful new film Happy as Lazzaro, Lazzaro felice, which is a film that unfolds with the clarity and strangeness of a fable or a folktale, to offer a poignant meditation on class, labor, and history and the potential for human redemption in an age driven mad and seemingly soulless by rabid free-market capitalist greed.
Now… [LAUGHTER] Happy as Lazzaro is quite remarkable for the ways it’s able to address these urgent and heavy issues forcefully, but also with a lightness and a poetry that gives Rohrwacher's film an otherworldly and timeless quality. Lightness was of course a quality admired by the great Italo Calvino whose fabulist and folkloric stories have often been cited in discussing Happy as Lazzaro. Like Calvino, Rohrwacher refuses traditional narrative gravity, the logic of cause and effect, of time and of place, and instead allows her film to float, untethered.
And yet, like all of Rohrwacher's films Happy as Lazzaro was also shaped by a fascination and by a love of the landscapes and traditions of Italy, of the difficult and demanding soil that anchors and defines her characters: from the utopian farmer family in The Wonders, which we screened here last week, to the young heroine of Rohrwacher's debut film Corpo Celeste, who is uprooted and brought to a different place in southern Italy, whose spiritual traditions speak most directly from the rocky cliff sides and vast ocean where she finds herself in the world film's wonderful climax on an unexpected road trip with a priest. That film screens next Saturday.
Tonight's film is centered around an enigmatic figure, the eponymous Lazzaro who is blessed with a sense of peace and kindness that marks him as either a saint or a fool, or perhaps both. His name, of course, suggests beatitude, but also takes on renewed meanings when Rohrwacher's film turns, suddenly, in a surprising and revelatory direction. What is the source of Lazzaro’s happiness and inner peace, his love for and his capacity to forgive the flawed and petty and clawing and cruel people who claim him? This is the mystery that drives the film forward and backwards in a gentle spiral that confuses past and present, reverie and real.
It's a real honor to welcome Alice Rohrwacher to the Harvard Film Archive. But she's also visiting Harvard as the very first Baby Jane Holzer Visiting Artist in Film, and this is a short term residency program that is courtesy of a generous gift given to the Department of VES—Visual and Environmental Studies—and the Harvard Film Archive and the Theater, Dance, and Media Department, in the name of the great Warhol superstar. Part of this gift is, as I said, a short residency, and under those terms, Alice Rohrwacher will be spending the next days here on campus visiting classes, giving master classes, meeting with students. So we're really blessed and honored that she's here, not just for tonight, but for the days that follow. I want to give special thanks to the Dean of the Arts and Humanities, Robin Kelsey, for making this gift possible. Is Robin here tonight? There he is! Let’s give him a round of applause.
I also want to thank, of course, my colleagues in VES; I want to give special thanks to Dennis Lim of the Film Society of Lincoln Center; he’s also a visiting professor in VES this year. I also want to thank our friends at Netflix. Netflix is distributing the film theatrically in North America, and they've been extraordinarily generous in helping with all details of Alice’s visit and this screening, so I want to thank [?Corina Atter?], Jennifer McCann, and give a special thanks to Funa Maduka, who's the creative and acquisitions executive. I also want to thank Sara Bovoli who's Alice's really extraordinary assistant.
I want to ask everybody to please turn off any cell phones, any electronic devices that you have, please do not use them during the course of the screening. Alice Rohrwacher will be joining us afterwards for conversation, and I'm sure you'll want to talk about this film so you'll have a chance to ask questions. And now with no further ado, please join me in welcoming Alice Rohrwacher.
Alice Rohrwacher 5:25
He said too much beautiful things…. Thank you, thank you very much. It’s difficult to say something intelligent now.
I don’t know... so we did this movie last summer and last winter. And I can just tell you a few words about how I found Lazzaro, the main actor of the movie, because in fact everyone who was reading the script, they say—they were not so happy—they say, “Eh, it's okay but this Lazzaro is impossible to find…” No, we will find him. Because in fact, it was very difficult to understand how big [this character was] because he’s so simple. And sometimes we think that simple things are small. And so, I did the casting everywhere. We are looking for young boys from the countryside.... We didn't know the age. So we said from sixteen to forty. [LAUGHS] It was a lot! And then we didn’t know about the age, we didn’t know about [anything]. Of course, he was not coming, making the casting because no one like Lazzaro if [he sees] an announcement, casting for actors, [he’ll] say, “Hmph!,” and go away, you know. He will never enter in a casting. So at one point we were just looking all around in schools, asking the schools, [enter] the school and talk about the project-—just talking, nothing, “blah blah blah…” and looking [to] everyone… [LAUGHTER] ...like a little... It was me and Chiara Polizzi, the casting, like two crazy women, you know, like pervert, you know, “boys!” [LAUGHTER] At one point we met Adriano, and as I talk with him I know he is Lazzaro. So he’s not exactly like Lazzaro, but he has something, he shared something with him, like he is completely there when he talks, he has no secondary– But you will see it in the movie. So I asked, we asked him, “Ah you know, we are so happy we met you, do you want to be the main actor of this movie? We are doing this movie. We are very funny people. We are very great, please.” And he was looking at us with these eyes I will never forget. Like we are the most crazy person [in] the world. And he says, “No thank you.” [LAUGHTER] And then he saw we were very sad. So he said, “I have a friend and he really would love to do the movie. So maybe I can give your number,” because he thought we were like désespérée. So [in] the end, he decided that was okay to learn– no, to see what this work is, because I said, “No, because you don't know what this work is.” It's not about showing something to the other. It is about showing something to yourself. So it's great. So we did the rehearsal. And at the end of this time of rehearsal, we asked him again—at one point also we offer him money, and he said “No, I’m not interested [in] money.” [LAUGHTER] So I said at the end of this time of rehearsal, we asked him, “So do you want to make this work?” And we said “Please!” And he said, “Okay... but just once,” and he did. And I tell you this story just because you know, in this time when everyone wants to show himself before knowing what to say even, you know? To know that this movie started with someone we were casted by… I don't know, sorry for my English. We were like... Sometimes we think directors who make show business have the power, no? Because everyone is ready to be part of show business. But in fact, we are nothing, and he showed us so clearly that we are nothing. And I think it's very important to know it, and I hope you enjoy the movie and I will be here. And I am happy to talk about you… with you about the movie later, and also about you! [LAUGHS]
And thank you very much… thank you.
Haden Guest 10:50
Thank you so much. Before we open the floor, I'll ask a few questions to Alice Rohrwacher about this extraordinary film, which I want to thank you for sharing with us tonight.
At the beginning of the film, I spoke about this idea of lightness. And you reminded me that Calvino had in fact written those words, his ideas about lightness, for his Norton lecture, his posthumous Norton lectures, which he was to deliver here at Harvard. So there's a real poignancy there. [SCATTERED APPLAUSE]
Alice Rohrwacher 11:24
Thank you, Harvard.
Haden Guest 11:26
Thank you, Italo Calvino, more importantly. But I wanted to speak about lightness because this film deals with the sacred and the religious, like ideas of religiosity, with a kind of lightness with a kind of... there's a word “whimsy” in English, which I think is often, like, treated as a bad thing, but there's, there's a kind of… how to say, “verticality” to it. And I was wondering if you could speak about this idea of Lazzaro as this saint figure, as also this figure that seems to come from some remote recesses of the Bible but also perhaps from this children's fable, you know, which also inspired you. So...
Alice Rohrwacher 12:13
Yes, it's strange because there are a lot of words we are, like... shy? to say, like “religion,” “spiritual,” everything now seems always difficult to...
Haden Guest 12:27
Alice Rohrwacher 12:28
...to talk about this. I think… I will say pessimismo de la ragione e optimismo de la volontà: “pessimistic in the reason and optimistic in the... will.”
Haden Guest 12:42
Alice Rohrwacher 12:44
And I think this is somehow what the movie is. I mean, it's a tragedy. But we tried to– We had this pessimistic story that in fact is what happened in the last fifty years. No, no, more, like...
Haden Guest 13:05
It's based on a true story...
Alice Rohrwacher 13:06
...in the story. Yes, but it's about how the last stays, the last always. So it's a pessimistic story, but somehow we tried to tell it as optimistic somehow for [?the tale?] even if the end, it's a little bit sad, but somehow it's also optimistic because there is the... We don't know what happened after. And think there are at least two religions in the movie. From one side there is the official one, the religion that is part of the... grande inganno?
Haden Guest 13:52
The great swindle or scandal?
Alice Rohrwacher 13:53
Yes, the great swindle, no? Because the marquise came to the Inviolata with a priest, and the only things that the people from the countryside can learn, it's religion. And it's the only imagination they have, it's about religion. And this religion, it's part of the story as... complice, how do you say?
Haden Guest 14:26
Alice Rohrwacher 14:23
...accomplice with the marquise, no? So, and that in this religion there is no place for Lazzaro even in the church, there is no place for him. So, [on] the other side, that is just a religion where Lazzaro is a saint, and it's a prehistoric religion, a religion of human beings that can't make miracles. But humans know what to be nice is, to be kind, this innocent part. I think we can't identify with Lazzaro, I mean, I really don't know who [he is]. Sometimes when you write a script they tell you, “Ha! A writer [has] to know everything about this character”—if they take coffee or orange juice in the morning, if they prefer, I don't know, salty or sweet, if… In fact I know nothing about him and even about Adriano, I don't know everything about the main actor. I mean, there is a part that is just like nature. It's just like something I receive... no? So this innocence that pops up in the story. And it's not a story about how this innocence gets lost, but it's about: [it] came back. It's about the fact that [it] travelled through time and arrives, every moment can be there, and every time a particular space for it. In the past they used this, it was very useful to have someone like Lazzaro because he's just someone that can [do] all the work that people don't want to do. Right now, maybe something that makes [us scared] because we can't imagine that exists. But I really believe in it, as I believe in images, as I believe in… movies.
Haden Guest 16:48
In a certain sense, Lazzaro comes from the ground, from the earth itself. I mean, you know, that marvelous scene where he discovers, he points out to the urban dwellers, you know, the weeds and the herbs, the plants that they can eat. And when he falls from the cliff he goes into the ground. There’s this, as if he’s a sort of– You want to speak about a spirituality, you know, he's this figure who lives in these caves, he's of the ground, of the soil, of the stones in a sense.
Alice Rohrwacher 17:23
Yes, I think he’s like a… prehistoric saint... I don't know how to say this. So I don't think he belongs to any religion. Of course he has a Christian name because all the people in Inviolata have Christian names because it's the only thing they know. And I think also it depends because in Italy, lazzaro, it means also “poor person.” And lazzaro felice, when we see... I don't know, like a homeless [person] singing in the street, people say, Ah, un lazzaro felice, so like... “a person that has nothing and is happy.” So also that was the reason because of this name… But I think of course, because we live in an age that tries always to divide, no?, and put... etichetta, how do you say? “This bottle [doesn't] have one…”
Haden Guest 18:29
A label… a label.
Alice Rohrwacher 18:30
A label right on the top of things, no? So I really wanted to make a movie where you can’t put a label around him. It's not, you know, “he's stupid,” “he’s a saint”... In fact, stupidity and stupore is the same word, like someone that can't talk in front of... that doesn't have another, a second intentiero… intentiero secondario…?
Haden Guest 19:02
Right, a secondary thought.
Alice Rohrwacher 19:03
I really talk Italian very good, just want you to know.
[LAUGHTER, SCATTERED APPLAUSE]
And I never studied English, but you know… so, sorry.
Haden Guest 19:16
So, but then there's also…
[INAUDIBLE COMMENT FROM AUDIENCE]
Ah, exactly.... va bene.
Alice Rohrwacher 19:23
Ah! An interpreter!
Haden Guest 19:27
Let's talk about the wind because there's also the sense...
Alice Rohrwacher 19:31
Haden Guest 19:31
...of the immaterial, the wind, where Lazzaro begins by playing this bagpipe and then we end with this organ music, this kind of breathing, respiratory music, which is like the wind itself, and the way we see the peasants when they all breathe and they blow this naughty wind—il vento cativo—at the marquise, and I was wondering if you could talk about this, because in a sense this wind is both the most ethereal and non-substantive thing, at the same time it's what ties these people to this place.
Alice Rohrwacher 20:05
Haden Guest 20:06
It’s the only thing they own in a sense
Alice Rohrwacher 20:07
I think, you know, also it's... the wind has a lot to do with our works. I mean we try to “catch wind” somehow because, you know, you you work a lot, a lot, a lot in something that is fake to catch a real wind on it. Something true is happening in a very fake mise-en-scène. So I think this wind somehow is part of what we do and of course, we thought when we start to make this movie that this wind has to be part of the movie. It begins with the idea of how the paysan... paysan, the...?
Haden Guest 21:02
Alice Rohrwacher 21:03
peasants… do when they don't like something, not in front of the enemy. And I had this idea that the shhhhh that they blow and that we don’t know if it’s imaginary or if it’s true, because in fact, I think this is a movie about the border of things. It's the border of ridiculous, it's the border of... religion, it’s the border of reality and imagination. So we don't know if they really blow or it's just the imagination of the marquise. But somehow this wind was really part of the movie. There is also a moment when Lazzaro sees Tancredi in his cave and we had this beautiful wind coming in his face, and so we kept the wind during all the movie. Sometimes we did it also with a shhhhhhh…
Haden Guest 22:10
A wind [UNKNOWN]? [LAUGHS]
Alice Rohrwacher 22:12
[LAUGHS] [?Megaphone?]... and so I just think that wind is part of this story as it is part also of our work.
Haden Guest 22:26
All three of your films begin in the dark. They begin with nightfall where we hear sounds and we see characters emerging–
Alice Rohrwacher 22:36
Finally someone asks me why… [LAUGHS] It’s the first time!
Haden Guest 22:40
Ah! Okay, there you go... So, Corpo Celeste we begin with pilgrims walking along a river bank, in The Wonders we see hunters at night, and here we have the singers coming. And I was wondering... because in a certain sense it places us the viewers… we don't know where we are, we're trying to orient ourselves, our eyes are adjusting to this world. And at the same time, it also, I feel like, places us in tune with the sound which is so important in your films.
Alice Rohrwacher 23:11
Yes, I think... in fact I'm very happy you ask me this because I don't want to make all the movies like this.
Haden Guest 23:19
Okay, the next one will be [INAUDIBLE]... [LAUGHS]
Alice Rohrwacher 23:20
But in fact, these times... the first image is not completely dark, there is a full moon... no, half-moon, so... but there is a little bit of moonlight and there is a little neon so it's a step in the future of light! [LAUGHS] I think the first big impression of cinema I had when I was a child, and I was traveling a lot with my father in the night—he is a beekeeper—so sometimes he travels. We were also traveling to Germany, to, I don't know... and you falling asleep in the back of the car. And then there is a moment when you wake up, but you don't open the eyes. And you listen to all these sounds, the car is... you don't know where it is. You don't know where you are, in which part of the country, and there is a sound that is coming and you start to imagine a story and then you open and sometimes it's very different from what you think... sometimes... But this feeling of being like a night traveller as a child, for me was something very important, and it's something I wanted to give to the... We are here all together, we don't know each other, no? So to start with something that asks you to open your ears and your imagination before I give you something in the eyes, because I think a film, it's a collaboration between your imagination and my imagination. So it's not just about me, it's about us. So, for me, it's a gentle way to ask you to imagine a place. And so it's something I really love when I receive it as the audience. So I try to do it. Also, it's very difficult when you make the first movie, to imagine the first image. And I remember very [well] at the time, what's the first image? And say: Dark! [LAUGHTER] There is not an image. And so we start slowly, with the sound and then with an image, that was helpful somehow, but let's see, I hope slowly I will...
Make your way towards light.
I can start with some image maybe in the future.
Haden Guest 26:15
I wanted to ask about the connection of your films to the local. I feel like you often cast family members, members of your...
Alice Rohrwacher 26:28
Of my family as well...
Haden Guest 26:29
Well, of your village... right, your own family members, members of the village, but you also base, in this story you’ve based it on local history as well. This is a true story, that of the marquise, or this tobacco farmer, keeping these workers in the dark for this period, so I was wondering if you could talk about the ways in which your storytelling draws inspiration.
Alice Rohrwacher 26:52
Yes, it's true, this was a true story. But in fact, what is funny that if I say it's a true story, it’s not so... la così grave, how do you say?
Haden Guest 27:04
It’s not so serious
Alice Rohrwacher 27:05
It’s not so serious, no, it's not like... they were not in chains and chh, chh… like... really in a real cage, you know, because sometimes when we see movies based on a true story, [MIMICKING FEAR] Ah, ah!… no? Like very terrible things and we are very touched when the reality is very terrible. In fact, what was important for me that is a true story that seems not to be terrible, because in fact, she do nothing. She just [doesn't[ tell them [anything]. She just keeps the people in ignorance, but she's not doing something. The culture is doing everything alone. They don't think they can go away. So it's not like there is a cage, there is something you can’t cross. It's just... you can’t, because for hundreds and hundreds of years you were in this same situation so why change? So it's very little, and I think it is something that happens everywhere in the world. Few people with privilege keep other people in ignorance. And I think [these are] the bad things more than a more violent and more cinematic story. The little power of... the little [INAUDIBLE] I’m so depressed with my English. This… So you understood, I hope.
Haden Guest 28:51
Alice Rohrwacher 28:52
So, it’s based on a true story, and of course I have a lot of relation... all these people I know by heart, the people of the first part and also in the second part, there is always a mix between real people and actors and singers—Tancredi is a singer, the young Tancredi. And the dancer, Wolfgang in The Wonders is a dancer, I mean to put people together that came from other worlds. And I think this is part of how we start a peace process, spending a lot of time with people that came from very different places. And we try to find... a common space. So... I don’t know if I answered your question.
Haden Guest 29:48
No, you did, you did. I sense a sort of impatience to ask questions. So let's take some questions from the audience, questions or comments for Alice Rohrwacher? We could start with this gentleman here, if you’ll wait for the microphone to come to you so everybody can hear your question.
Audience 1 30:02
Thank you very much. As I think back in the movie, I remember at the beginning Lazzaro was standing there, and there was the narrator, I think, saying that there was a saint who communicated with animals. And Lazzaro oftentimes would be found standing still, and he seemed to be in his own communication with the world other than most of the rest of the people were. And then of course, there was the wolf that came to him when he fell off the cliff and seemed to bring him back to life. And then, when Lazzaro died at the end, the wolf came and possibly took his spirit away. So I was wondering how intentional the wolf was in the movie. Is that from the fairy tale you were talking about? Where does the wolf come from?
Alice Rohrwacher 30:55
So there are many references... somehow I want to say something that for me, you know, the world is going worse and worse and worse, but there are miracles. So, like, what happened to Lazzaro. And I really believe it.
Haden Guest 31:11
So the miracles are still possible.
Alice Rohrwacher 31:13
Still possible. And this wolf, I don't know if you know, Dino Buzzati, the writer... he wrote wonderful novels and one it's Il colombre. You have to read it, I can't tell you. But in this novel, somehow there is an animal that is a monster, a fish in this case, but it’s something that is considered by all the community like a monster, like an animal that just—this is difficult in English—seen, ha visto da chi deve morire.
Haden Guest 32:02
He sees who's supposed to die?
Alice Rohrwacher 32:04
Yeah. So, and it's a novel about someone that saw this animal and escapes all his life from this animal, because he thinks it’s the enemy. I [won't] tell you the end of the novel, but I think what the novel tells is somehow what happens also to Lazzaro, so something that, in fact, all the people considered an enemy. In the beginning, it's an enemy that is in the forest. After, it’s an enemy that is in the middle of the others. But maybe it's not an enemy. So maybe we have to look better, no? I really would love to tell you about the novel, but I don't want to just because I want you to read it... because it's a very beautiful... Il colombre. It's very beautiful. And I think if you read the novel, maybe you understand the feeling I have about the wolf. Of course, also we do movies because we can't tell everything. If we couldn't talk everything and write everything, we [would] write books. And we do movies because there are things it's impossible to explain because images are messengers, different messengers from words and from what we understand... Many times there are... it's more similar with poetry, no? There are things you don't understand, and when you don't understand, you keep in mind so maybe there are more important things we don't understand in life because they are always with us. Because we think, we think, what, what is it? And things we understand… it’s done, no? It's okay, we throw away, we know.
Haden Guest 34:15
So, but the story that Adriana [SIC] tells to her child, the story of San Francesco and the wolf, that's another, that was another [INAUDIBLE].
Alice Rohrwacher 34:24
Of course Antonia tell the story of San Francesco, but she can't... she just knows the story of the saint. So I thought she had to tell a story. And the only stories she knows are stories of saints because it's the only culture she has. And somehow what she says is an idea of the story of San Francesco because in the real story of San Francesco, as the church tells, San Francesco meets the wolf and say, “Ah, you have to be good.” And the wolf says, “Okay, but…” you know, maybe the [UNKNOWN ITALIAN]. Maybe it was not that this was in fact what happened, and... There is a very beautiful children's book about San Francesco. That is San Francesco e il lupo. And in this story, the wolf doesn't eat San Francesco because he is a man, a good man. So it's the first time the wolf understand there is someone [who doesn’t] think he is an enemy. And so he doesn't eat him.
Haden Guest 35:57
Great, okay, other questions, let’s take, right here in the middle, if you’ll wait for the microphone.
Audience 2 36:06
Thank you. Is it okay if I ask this question in Italian first and then translate it?... [SPEAKS IN ITALIAN].
Alice Rohrwacher 36:21
She wants to ask about Nicola.
Audience 2 36:30
[LAUGHS] So, you’re going to translate it for me! [SPEAKS ITALIAN] I’m just going to translate it quickly. When we find Nicola again, he's auctioning work for new migrants, and I wanted to ask why you made the decision to put this in the movie.
Alice Rohrwacher 37:10
In fact, I think the... [SPEAKS ITALIAN]... someone who survives always, no? And is not in the head of the problems and is not in the last, è un intermediario, you know, is someone that is in the middle, and these people always find a way to escape from every situation and to change, to stay the same but to change their work somehow. And I think for me, it was very important to, you know, it's a fairy tale somehow because I think reality is [much worse], but for me it was very important in an image, you know, when Lazzaro, or if Lazzaro woke up now and came to my place... I live in the countryside and all the people that work in the countryside are strangers right now and not people from... they are immigrants. So it was very simple, my feeling, and so of course for me if he really woke up today, [in this] time… [it’s] the first time he sees all these cultures, all these people from other countries because this is the reality. And then I decide... so my first [idea] was just of him [waking] up and just work in a country where all the people are from other countries. And then I think that Nicola has to be there. Of course, he found a funny way to exploit people, make this asta contraria... this reverse...
Haden Guest 39:05
Alice Rohrwacher 39:07
Sì. Like, “Who wants to work for nothing? Hi, you won!” Like, you know… to [always use] this capacity of a joke with people. But for me, he's in fact, one of the most important characters in the movie. To see how he survived, because the marquise she collapses, no? Tancredi collapses, everyone collapses, but Nicola is always there.
Haden Guest 39:43
Let's take another question here. Amanda right there. Thank you.
Audience 3 39:49
Thank you so much for your wonderful film and the other wonderful films that you made. I really love all of them. And my question is about this contrast about the city and the countryside. And Lazzaro, this person that comes from the countryside, and when he is at the city, and the place where city—which people associate with development and, you know, richness, let's say—is actually even more perverse, sometimes even than what you would encounter in the countryside. When, for example, Lazzaro is beaten up by the people there, but not even a wolf who is an animal would actually eat him. But we human beings in the city became so… lacking so much of humanity, that we actually don't even recognize another human being in front of us by being [UNKNOWN] and, you know, I just want...
Alice Rohrwacher 40:42
Yes, I think people also when they were in the countryside were not nice with Lazzaro somehow, never. But somehow he had a place… and after, he [doesn’t have a place anymore]. This is maybe the difference. And I think we decide... it's also... when you arrive to the city it's an imaginary place, and of course it's somehow caricatura, como si dice…?
Haden Guest 41:19
Alice Rohrwacher 41:20
Caricature. Because I think I really want to... I think what makes us laugh, also what makes this feeling of ridiculous we have, you know, we all have and sometimes we see things and we feel, Oh what a shame, you know, like... and there is always something very true, close to this feeling. So somehow close to the ridiculous there is something clearly true, no? So, this is… but wait, I’m lost. Cosa è a domanda?
Haden Guest 42:05
It’s a question about the city and kind of just thinking about this idea of the city… [INAUDIBLE]
Alice Rohrwacher 42:12
Yes. I just want to say that I don't think there is a nostalgia of the first part. And so it's not about, “Ah! How beautiful it was in the countryside!” Nothing about this for me, maybe it's just more beautiful because there is a community somehow and afterward, there is not anymore this community but I think it’s not a film about the old beautiful times.
Audience 3 43:00
I understand that it was not about making the countryside actually a place of nostalgia or a place of… but sometimes I think that people in the city kind of think that you know, what was in the past was much worse than we actually live nowadays. But in fact, nowadays, we also live and we can see a lot of people living in the streets and not being able to actually eat and sometimes people don't even care about them.
Alice Rohrwacher 43:25
Yes, of course, I know. You know, that world is very much more complex. And I remember when I wrote this movie, and I went to the producer [and he] said, “Come on, you can't make a movie with a division: countryside/city. This is from 200 years ago.” And I said, “Yes, but let's try.” It's a fairy tale, no? We need to put ourselves as the audience in the mind of a child [who thinks] about the countryside and about the city into this. So there is a simplification, but I think it's to go more deep... somehow.
Haden Guest 44:09
I wanted just to follow up with just one question: this idea that maybe Lazzaro only exists in the imagination of everyone. There's a sense that Lazzaro is a word, is this kind of incantation that appears at the beginning like a work song, “Lazzaro, Lazzaro, Lazzaro.” You know, he means something different to everybody who claims him, you know, there's a sense he's associated with this... No? That's how he's able to pass from past and present without aging. And I was wondering if that's at all an idea that was floating, that maybe he was an imaginary himself.
Alice Rohrwacher 44:46
I mean, not really. I was feeling about... you know, it's looser, no? Many times. I wrote this movie in New York because I had a…
Haden Guest 44:59
Alice Rohrwacher 45:00
...a residency from the New York Film Festival, six weeks, and I already had this idea and I collected a lot of material about all the stories, about, you know... and I arrived to New York and there is a part of Lazzaro in everyone of us that sometimes, you know, we look at the world like “Ah!” with these eyes, with nothing [more than looking], and at one point I decided to dare me lusso, to give [myself] the luxury of being, of [looking at] the world with these eyes... It's luxury. We can't have these eyes in our life, no? … But sometimes it's beautiful too. And when we were shooting, all the crew was like a little bit [like Lazzaro] like “Ah! Thank you!” or everyone was like somehow going back to this innocence I think we had just for three weeks when we were born, not more. But we went back to this three weeks. And so I think [on] one side, he [does] not exist, [UNKNOWN]; [on] the other side—and this is the social part of the movie—he is a farmer, a paysan. And the [result] is that we destroyed the relation—in a few months—with the countryside, so... And this is also the story of this distraction.
Haden Guest 46:44
Let's take a few more questions. The gentleman in the white sweater?
Audience 4 46:50
Thank you. I loved the film. I have a sense in your films that there's this real sense of history repeating itself, or like this sort of an immortality to human stories. Even in Corpo Celeste Marta has this affinity across time with the figure of Jesus Christ as a revolutionary. And in The Wonders, there's these references back to the Etruscans, and so there's the sense that the beekeepers are related to the Etruscans, and then at the end of the film, they become the past, or that was my interpretation of it. And then again, you play with time in this really unusual and original way in this film, too. And so I was hoping you could talk a little bit about your thoughts about time and history.
Alice Rohrwacher 47:35
Yes, I think it’s true. I never felt, like, free, like the first person… I mean, I always feel part of something, no? When I express my freedom, I know I'm part of something and that my freedom can hurt someone. So it's not like, “I'm the first person here... and I do…” I come from a volcanic region. And everything there– If you take a stone from the ground, and you look at it, it's full of layers of many different eruptions, and they are all together in one stone. So, this a feeling of time that is not linear, but is staying here all together, no? The fact that we live in houses, that you have to find your place in between a big story. Because they were abandoned and then they were abitate again,
Haden Guest 48:56
Inhabited again, right.
Alice Rohrwacher 48:57
and then abandoned... And I don't know, you look into the [UNKNOWN] Etruscan tombs, here there is a gasoline station and here there is a Roman..., and so I think that is this part of how [my eyes grew] in my life, [I] was this contemporary of the time. So time as space more than time. So a space where we are all together with the past, the future and present, but of course we always talk about the present. And also when we talk about it, we talk always from the last layer of something, but we have to know that there are all the others all together.
Haden Guest 49:56
Let’s take two more questions, let’s take the gentleman in the back with the glasses? And then we'll take you in the T-shirt.
Audience 5 50:03
Thank you for coming here. So I noticed that in the first half of the movie Lazzaro is the only one in the village fond of coffee. So it's quite rare in Italy. So I wonder, is that a symbol of openness or like curiosity? It suggests to me that he's not afraid of [?the river?],... if he wants to try the coffee. But in the second half of the movie, the coffee has just disappeared; he’s more attached to, like, the cheese. Is that just a coincidence? Or are there any thoughts behind that?
Alice Rohrwacher 50:41
He says “I make your coffee” in the second part, but we don't see it. Now, I mean, you know, we were building a world and we were imagining how it works, no? It's very funny also. And we imagine something that Nicola—in fact, it’s Nicola [who gives] him the coffee—like a special payment for the most stupid person. Normally when you go to these places, you know where people... you know, there is always the favorite. That always is maybe the more stupid one. Of course, I don't talk about stupid like dispregiativo and they…
Haden Guest 51:28
Alice Rohrwacher 51:29
Sì. So coffee is just a beautiful coin for this relation, no? So he has a speciality, no? Also it's so calm that we love to imagine he makes the coffee.
Haden Guest 51:45
And bringing it all the way there, and then nobody takes it.
Alice Rohrwacher 51:48
Haden Guest 51:49
Let's take the gentlemen in the T-shirt and that'll be the last question.
Audience 6 51:56
Hi, thank you. So you gave a really wonderful description of finding the main actor before the film, and I really... it became very apparent what you meant by that he had that particular gaze and “you'll see what I mean.” And so I guess I was just curious when you told us what he made of the film before you started filming. What did you think of it at the end?
Alice Rohrwacher 52:19
What I think about?
Haden Guest 52:20
No, what did he think of it?
Alice Rohrwacher 52:23
He said, “Very beautiful!”
Haden Guest 54:26
He liked it.
Alice Rohrwacher 52:27
He liked it. No, he saw a lot of things and, you know, Adriano is someone that, you know, he is incredible, because he says very simple things, and I don't know he saw many things and then said, “Every time I see the movie, I see something else and I like it more.” So he saw it like twelve times, and...
Haden Guest 52:56
Alice Rohrwacher 52:57
Yes, yes and so it was a very beautiful experience for him, for his family, for everyone. And I don't think he wants to be an actor. He’s continuing... he’s studying economy. But sometimes it's also, you know… This is a work that I think makes sense also, to be part of this work once.I don't feel we just... we took something from him, I think it was an exchange.
Audience 6 53:38
Haden Guest 53:39
Well I want to thank Alicia Rohrwacher [APPLAUSE] for this marvelous exchange.
Alice Rohrwacher 53:41
Haden Guest 53:43
Alice Rohrwacher 53:44
Haden Guest 53:45
And I want to ask you all to please come again next Saturday, we'll be seeing Corpo Celeste, Alice Rohrwacher’s first film.
Alice Rohrwacher 53:53
And I think… can I say something? There is an incredible possibility because now we don't allow people to get old and the movies to get old, we have to make a DCP that always stays the same. But Corpo Celeste, it's an old copy.
Haden Guest 54:08
We’ll be screening the original 35mm print.
Alice Rohrwacher 54:10
So you will see the time with all of his wrinkles, so… it’s beautiful!
Haden Guest 54:16
Thank you, all.
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