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Daniel Calparsoro • Director

“My film deals with a lack of communication”


- Daniel Calparsoro is releasing his new thriller, The Warning, an adaptation of Paul Pen’s novel of the same name, starring Raúl Arévalo, in which he blends emotion and the supernatural

Daniel Calparsoro  • Director
(© Juan Carlos Fernandez Lopez)

Daniel Calparsoro (Barcelona, 1968) is working with Morena Films once again, a couple of years after the firm produced his previous film, To Steal from a Thief [+see also:
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interview: Daniel Calparsoro
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. The cast of that movie also included Raúl Arévalo, who now toplines The Warning [+see also:
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interview: Daniel Calparsoro
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, flanked by Aura Garrido, Belén Cuesta, Antonio Dechent and young actor Hugo Arbues.

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Cineuropa: Would you describe The Warning as a jigsaw puzzle?
Daniel Calparsoro: Yes, absolutely. That was the challenge, and it was actually what attracted me the most about the project: the idea of getting to the bottom of an enigma that is unfolding in two different time periods, with characters who are closely linked but who don’t know each other, and one of them is trying to save the other. To me, the screenplay was like a device, in the best sense of the word: besides, it served to convey a story based on the characters themselves, because although it’s disguised as a thriller and a suspense film, in the end, it’s a story about relationships and the difficulty that both of the protagonists – Raúl Arévalo as well as the child lead – have in relating to their surroundings, as the movie deals with a lack of communication.

How did you plan your direction strategy in a narrative where we’re constantly travelling through time?
Given that there were those two different universes, our main concern was giving it a narrative structure where the viewer would not get lost but, on the contrary, would be perfectly aware of which time period he was in. That was one of the biggest challenges of the movie, as in the script, there were a lot of signs and markers that would place you in one year or another, but I thought that didn’t work very well. So it was necessary to differentiate when you jump from one moment to another through the cinematography, but not so as you would have the feeling that they were two different films. It was also necessary to ensure that the tone would be coherent, because it’s one single story. We managed to achieve all of that thanks to the genuine, natural performances by the actors.

The Madrid you depict – with the four towers, the cinematography and the set design – also helped to achieve this differentiation…
The cinematography in the child’s part is more contemporary and has no colour saturation, while Raúl’s part is more colourful, which also conveys the emotions of the characters: Jon’s world is more intense, and the kid’s world is colder and harsher. Then there are all the flashbacks, because it’s a story that arises from an event that happened in the past. In a very remote way, it reminded me of Chris Marker’s La Jetée, which Terry Gilliam then made his own version of with 12 Monkeys: the novel and the screenplay were inspired by them, although they are very different. I think the film keeps you entertained and keeps you glued to your seat for the whole running time, and the denouement gives you a rush and surprises you. The four towers of the Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid also make an appearance; they’re a sign and also a marker in terms of the time period. It’s a movie for fans of fun thrillers and suspense films. 

In The Warning, you also broach thorny topics such as bullying, but from an entertaining angle.
Yes, the characters touch on interesting hot topics: this isn’t a movie about bullying, or how a boy and his mother have to face up to such a situation, but this is indeed incorporated into the film, which should be entertaining. But in order for the movie to have soul, that is born of the characters themselves, who generate that environment, so they have to be real. It’s also the story of two people who are cut off somehow. Hence it had to have a very strong emotional side and be able to touch the audience: there are people who have come out of the cinema very moved after watching it, as they connected more with the emotional story than with the thriller aspect.

There’s also a romantic element, which appeals to loss, and an educational one, which appeals to bravery.
When you decide to take on a thriller, you’re taking on a genre that the public is very familiar with, which is why the mechanism behind the screenplay and behind how you direct the storyline has to work properly. But all of that has to feed off the characters: that is what makes the film come alive and enables it to be organic; if not, it would be utterly cold. That’s why we amped up those elements of romance and bravery.

We’ve caught you as you’re taking a break from the shoot for the TV series El futbol no es así…
It’s a series for DirectTV and Mediapro, based on the novel by Javier Tebas, and it’s a story about corruption. It consists of eight episodes of 45 minutes each, which will be shown after the World Cup. I’m also comfortable working with TV; I love it, as it’s an extremely interesting medium with a more direct message, without relying on suggestion so much. The shoots are harder because time is tight. It’s also a thriller and we’re going flat out, editing it at the same time. The cast includes Roberto Enríquez, Pedro Casablanc, Patricia Vico, Marian Álvarez, Toni Sevilla, José Ángel Egido and Andrés Gertrúdix.

(Translated from Spanish)

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