Jaime Rosales • Director
by Vitor Pinto, Eva Vazquez
31/10/2007 - After The Hours of the Day (winner of the FIPRESCI Award at Cannes 2003), Spanish director Jaime Rosales has returned with the atypical Solitary Fragments [trailer], which does not give into melodramatic temptations or offer political lectures.
Cineuropa: Which came first, the plot or the film’s technical concept?
Jaime Rosales: I wanted to make a very emotionally charged film and I also wanted to work using split screen. I started by writing the script and then I worked on what could be called a kind of a split screen language: how the actors would enter and exit the frame, what shots would be most suitable and so on. The script and the visuals were initially separate but at a certain point they came together and I was obliged to readjust the script to this language.
The risk of using the split screen is that it can make it harder to follow the narrative and thus create emotional detachment among the audience. Besides, I also wanted to add some expressivity. And that is related to the emotional detachment: two characters would have liked to be together but are unable to do so. The split screen is a metaphor for the emotional split.
What work method did you adopt?
I tend to analyse the script together with all the technical heads of the crew, so that we can share views and eventually make changes. But there is also room for spontaneity when we’re shooting. Spontaneity was also what I was eager to find in my actresses. I wanted their performances to have a more naturalistic tone.
Your camera shots seem quite elaborate and sometimes your characters are out of the frame, which is common in some Asian films…
I think some Asian filmmakers have a kind of stylised approach with which I can easily identify. The typical Dogma style so common in Europe, that sort of quest for realism with a handycam and a journalistic style, leaves me indifferent. I am fonder of more elaborate aesthetics, with a well-balanced frame and a certain balance in the rhythm.
Are the long sequences preludes to the plot climax?
To reach strong moments we need some weak ones. I vary the intensity to get peaks of contrast. In the specific case of the death scenes, I thought it would be interesting to prolong the weak moment before reaching that terrible point, the death of a person. Whatever precedes that moment is unexpectedly trivial.
Why did you choose to use jump cuts in some of the most tragic moments?
From a philosophical point of view, for me cinema would be filming a person's entire life and then making a two-hour film from [the material]. The director would then be an editor; he would select some moments and leave others behind. We should question why showing tragic moments in films has been conventionalised. What is so interesting about a funeral? Ultimately, not showing it is more stimulating. The audience will imagine it and ask questions about that.
Was there an attempt on your part to be politically neutral about terrorism?
There is absolutely no reference to those responsible for the terrorist attack and to political issues. It is like openly saying, "I am going to focus on the pain of the victim". Politically, Spain is going through a controversial moment and I refused to take any political part.