Agustí Villaronga • Director
"A captivating story of survival"
by Alfonso Rivera
- Agustí Villaronga releases his new and impassioned film, Uncertain Glory, which is an adaptation of dramatic novel, a classic in Catalonian literature
Uncertain Glory [+see also:
interview: Agustí Villaronga
film profile] marks the return to the Spanish civil war – after the multi-award-winning Black Bread [+see also:
film profile] – of Agustí Villaronga. The Majorcan filmmaker sat down with Cineuropa in Madrid to talk about his latest film.
Cineuropa: You were commissioned to make Uncertain Glory by producer Isona Passola (Massa D´Or Produccions), but I’m guessing you made the film your own.
Agustí Villaronga: Of course, when she pitched it to me I said the context was similar to Black Bread, which had just been released, and that I would rather take a bit of a breather with El rey de La Habana [+see also:
film profile] and then come back to make Uncertain Glory. I enjoyed the challenge of adapting a novel that’s over a thousand pages long; that was the primary concern, as well as the fact that the book’s characters enchanted me: on the one hand the younger characters, out of their habitual setting, there in the middle of the desert in a dead alliance; and then the character of Carlana who I was drawn to, a woman who defends her land and her children. It’s a captivating story of survival.
This is the fifth time you’ve worked with Isona Passola.
Yes, we’ve now made four feature films and a documentary on Rosa Novell together: ours is a solid professional marriage in these worlds that we share, but then there are others that are more me: El mar for example, which we don’t share. She has said on several occasions that she has watched my films and wanted to bring my stories to settings closer to home, like the post-war period in Majorca, which contains points of reference that I am comfortable working with.
I really liked this femme fatal character of Carlana.
Yes, she’s spider woman. A very alluring woman, a bit like Bette Davis: a person who isn’t what she seems, who has a lot of secrets. That’s is why I tried to create an air of suspense around her, making her somewhat of a heroine even though there is nothing heroic about her. But in the end you understand her, she defends what’s hers and has been through terrible things: for her war is a way of taking advantage of the situation.
In your film adaptation you removed a character of central importance, Cruells, from the original story.
If I incorporated too many characters, a lot of them would have lost their impact, so I decided to focus on just four. But I did introduce some of the traits of that character in Soleras, played by Oriol Pla. It was a role that allowed for much intellectual disquisition, something that comes off confused in film: with a book you can stop reading and mull things over, you can’t do that with film.
Uncertain Glory sees the return to the big screen of Núria Prims.
She hadn’t stepped foot in front of a camera for eight years. I was friends with her former partner, and thought of her for the part, but she pulled out: I called her and she said she would do it because I was the director and above all, because she had just read the book; after reading the screenplay, with this golden role of Carlana, she definitively said yes. I’m really pleased with the job she did: her character is nothing like her, she’s a bit of a hippy, a good but insecure person.
Physical and psychological violence is a recurring theme in your films.
The quality I like most in people is kindness, even more than intelligence, but on screen it doesn’t have much impact; instead, I find it more interesting to observe awful situations, with conflict like this.
The loss of innocence is also a common denominator in your work.
Yes, it’s there in all my films, but because it comes from the stories I adapt. I’ve stopped going to producers with screenplays of my own tucked under my arm, because it’s pointless. The last films I’ve done have been on commission, but it’s also true that the theme of the transition to a place of maturity, interrupted by an external factor such as war, is a constant of mine.
Was there a lot of post-production work on the film?
Yes, we used lots of special effects, but not for the shooting or bombing, but to reconstruct the era, for example in the part of the film that takes place in Barcelona, although you hardly notice. Filming was very enjoyable, there was a great feeling of harmony amongst the entire team, which was in Los Monegros for six weeks, in places were there weren’t even any bars.
(Translated from Spanish)
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