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The L: But you have the opposite approach to melodrama, not at all misogynistic.
LG: It has never been misogynistic.
The L: It's like he misunderstands melodrama, and just uses it for this voyeuristic destruction of women...
LG: No, he does it for his bank account. He's a great businessman.
The L: That's true. OK, so yours is a woman's film. You made this in collaboration with Tilda Swinton. Can you tell me about that collaboration. Was she a muse?
LG: No no no. Muse is something passive; I cannot ever say she is passive. We are collaborators. We are partners. I believe that collaboration is something intimate. I met Bertolucci once, and he invited me to his editing room. And he talked to me for ten minutes and then said, Now Luca, you know a movie and an editing room is like a bedroom and now I'm making love with Pietro Scalia, and you have to leave us alone. I believe that.
The L: Ok, then I won't pry. But let me ask you about some other casting. For instance, Gabriele Ferzetti?
LG: Me and Tilda were strongly believing in a movie that has the legacy of the movies that we love. And Gabriele Ferzetti is not only a great, great actor—he's like a lion—but he's also in L'avventura.
The L: And on one hand you have someone from L'avventura, and then on the other hand you have someone from, and maybe even more interesting....
LG: Death in Venice, and Barry Lyndon, and Cabaret.
The L: Yes, so tell me about casting Marisa Berenson.
LG: This is one of the fruits of the collaborations with Tilda. She called me once after a show of Christian Dior Haute Coutoure in Paris. She said, "I sat beside Marisa Berenson and she is so fantastic. And you should meet her; she would be fantastic for the role of the mother." This was Tilda's idea. And she is fantastic.
The L: And the composer John Adams?
LG: I got to know John Adams' music through a friend who gave me a CD five years ago. And I absolutely felt that this is the music, that I had never heard, but I had in my mind all along. And we shot the movie with the music of Adams.
The L: On the set?
LG: On the set. And then I didn't want to use anything else, any soundtrack composer. And Tilda wrote an email to John Adams. And we showed him a rough cut of the movie, and he luckily completely embraced the movie.
The L: So the music wasn't recorded for the images, but the images created for the music?
LG: The images were created with the music. Also for the music sometimes.
The L: I have to say, I fell in love with the film at the credits.
LG: In the beginning or at the end?
The L: In the beginning. With that text!
LG: That was made by hand by a calligrapher who studied for us all the text of the Italian films of the fifties and sixties.
The L: You're kidding.
LG: We carved out the movie by hand, by hand! Every single detail.