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Tom Tykwer

Tom's first time


- The German director opens a new chapter in his career and with Heaven, makes his first international co-production

Tom Tykwer

There’s a first time for everyone, even an affirmed director like Tom Tykwer, whose latest film, Heaven inaugurates a new chapter in his career. After The Princess and the Warrior and Lola Runs, Tykwer accepted the challenge of a major international production and directed this film that is based on Krysztof Kieslowski’s and Krysztof Piesiewicz last screenplay. It took three producers to transform the first and only part of what was always meant to become a trilogy that the two Polish filmmakers were working on prior to Kieslowski's untimely death. They are America’s Miramax, who began developing this project, France’s Noé Productions and the Anglo-American Mirage Films owned by Sydney Pollack, Anthony Minghella and William Horberg.
Heaven is an intense love story set in Italy, where revenge and redemption intertwine to the degree that you can no longer distinguish them. This film is a drama with moral overtones that also manages to be romantic. Philippa is arrested, charged with mass murder and taken to a Turin police station where she is interrogated. She discloses that her reasons for committing murder were not ideological, but revenge. Unfortunately, her intended victim escaped unscathed but she eventually gets to him with help from a young carabiniere who is the only person who believes her. Together they embark on a very painful journey as they strive for peace after serving a tumultuous and most disturbing period of penance. Tom Tykwer and the star of Heaven Cate Blanchett came to Rome to present the film that is scheduled for release on 4 October.

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This film was made in Turin and Tuscany. Was this your decision or was the location an integral part of Kieslowski’s screenplay?
“It was all in the screenplay. Italy features strongly in the original screenplay. In any case, it would have been impossible to read it without thinking of Italy. When I saw the film again, I felt the same excitement as when I first read the story, it is a magical atmosphere. Although Tuscany and Turin seem totally different, and even opposing places, they are both expressions of the same spirituality. Turin has a geometric form that is best seen from the sky, and I flew over Turin while I was scouting locations. Different cultures and different forms of spirituality co-exist in that city and although it is very different, Tuscany also creates that self-same impression.”

On the subject of cultural diversity, this film brought together an authentic blend of different cultures with its international cast and German-Italian crew...
“This represents a much more complex and difficult way of making films. It is no easy thing to create a sensation of homogeneity amongst people who express their creativity in such different ways. On the one hand we had the punctual and extremely precise Germans, on the other the Italians who create through disorder and chaos. Two sides of the same coin that ended up by creating the Italy that I wanted: not a pretty postcard but a country that reveals all its darkest and hidden truths.”

In this film order and justice are personified by the Carabiniere Force, they represent a system that the two protagonists come up against, albeit in different ways...
“That was a conscious decision I made and not part of Kieslowski’s screenplay. The carabinieri are governed by an extremely strict hierarchy and rules, and the young officer’s (Giovanni Ribisi) decision to break with all that only underlines the immense courage that decision took.”

Despite the resulting controversy. One of the carabinieri officers is not the epitome of a man of justice, given his dealings with a drug trafficker. Why do you think is it so difficult to calmly criticise without falling victim to generalisation?
As a director, I think it is fundamentally important to make different films, ones that are neither reassuring or conciliatory. I don’t care about making commercial films that seem bad cartoons because they don’t make you think or excite you. I am convinced that commercial films must exist, but I also believe that there must be others that raise moral or emotional issues. Heaven was not an easy film to make, but it’s never easy to make an “disturbing” film.”

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