The Auteurs will be interviewing Götz Spielmann, director of the Oscar-nominated film REVANCHE this Thursday. Leave your questions for the director in this thread BY 10AM EST ON THURSDAY, APRIL 30th, for a chance to have them asked during the interview!
Question: What was the biggest obstacle you faced when you first started out in filmmaking? How did you overcome it?
There were some interesting symbols in the film. Were Robert’s impotence and “missed shot” coincidental? Was the film’s emphasis on nature and the countryside particularly symbolic?
One of the things I enjoyed most about this film is that it was confrontational without ever confronting (until…). It was a great touch in that the characters revealed their deepest, darkest secrets… and yet, they never revealed them. I was wondering if you are interested in the nature of secrets. If you are, why do you find them appealing?
Mr. Spielmann, you are the producer, writer and director of the movie – how difficult was it to perform all these functions combined in one person? Is that something you’d consider doing on your next project too?
Sorry but I have another question I’d like to ask. If I can’t have two, please feel free to choose between either or (if either get chosen).
I’ve never seen your other films but I’ve read somewhere you have a reputation for being very uninhibited about sexual content in your work. And I certainly saw that in Revanche. I think as a director, especially one just starting out, it’s difficult to illustrate the necessity of nudity or sexuality to actors. Did you ever have problems like these when you first started incorporating sexuality? Is there anything in particular you did to ease them into doing such roles?
Thank you for the very good film. Every time I thought I knew what would happen, something different happened. What does the title mean? Is the moment where Alex throws his gun in the lake the same moment that occurs in the film’s opening shot? What is the significance of the repeated shot of the three trees by the forest path? And assuming that Alex is the father of Susi’s baby, is this meant to be life affirming somehow, or rather, life’s final “insult” to the luckless Alex?
Thank you for speaking with us.
There are many major themes in Revanche – regret, guilt, loss, growing old, etc. What theme is the most important to the film?
Another question, maybe a better one: Though Alex is the film’s focus, is he really the “hero”? I’m not sure it would be accurate to describe him as an anti-hero either. There seems to be a a greater, incorporeal force working throughout the movie, “chance”. Would you say this is true? Also, is there any significance in that Alex’s story ends with a life in the countryside, the antithesis to Vienna, the city of “arrogance” and “scoundrels” ?
You’ve said that “Working with cinematographer Martin Gschlacht is very intuitive, very precise, without a lot of talk or discussion. Before getting started, we don’t really go into resolution, concrete scenes, technical stuff, etc.—- instead we talk a lot about the story, its hidden meaning, about the formal basic conception of the film, about rhythm, about style.”
I’m curious as to how that working relationship developed. It seems you place a lot of trust in your production crew, and they equally in you— and the results, in my opinion, are just incredible, fluid, beautifully composed, and yet raw, true to the realism you get from your actors.
—Is this an extension of your approach to working with the actors? (“I believe that acting is best when it combines vitality with precision.”)
Which directors and films made an impression on you before you became a director?
I found your film very powerful and engrossing. I was really stunned by the beautiful cinematography, especially the use of such dark night images. The film managed to transport me deep into the night forest with all of the otherworldly eeriness that comes with a nighttime rural setting. I found the sounds that went along with these visuals, and throughout the entire film to be perfect. Can you talk about how you were able to capture these vivid images with such low light? I’d also be interested to understand how you lit the nighttime driving sequences – you managed to light the actors without the usual artificial feel of interior car movie lighting.
Also, did the breeze that blew over the lake just after Alex tossed the gun occur by chance or was it designed? Did you intend it as a comment on the faith that Alex lacked and the moral decision he made at that moment?
I really enjoyed the wood chopping and cow feeding scenes interspersed throughout the film. Did Johannes Krisch have to practice to become that proficient at chopping wood? Those scenes were a pause where I could exhale—nothing bad is going to happen imminently and honest work is getting done. Is there a reason why you chose these two particular farm tasks over others for those scenes?
Forgive my naivete, but I assume you researched brothels.. can you explain to me why or how men become so disassociated from their humanity that they can treat women with such disdain? And do you think that the commodification of the feminine is worse today in a world dictated by greed and power than it was say even in Roman times?
Thanks ..great film.
Your film seems to be concerned with the relationship between static and moving images. The shots are composed with a unique stillness to them, letting the characters move throughout the frame and pause, at times becoming painterly, but with a specifically cinematic quality. I don’t know if you have seen “The Headless Woman” but “Revanche” seemed the opposite of that. With The Headless Woman there are close-ups and intense moments of inner-consciousness, whereas in Revanche, it is filled with moments of acute objectivity.
So the question is, basically, what is the film’s relationship to reality?
There are many major themes in Revanche – regret, guilt, loss, growing old, etc. What theme is the most personal to you? (slightly different from other question)
Some of the interstitial barn shots (particularly the livestock and the hatchet) in Revanche seemed to be subverting what were horrific scenes in Michael Haneke’s films (Code Inconnu and Caché), and in a sense, the films are also connected by questions of guilt, problems of communication, and treatment of “outsiders”. Were these conscious parallels worked into the film?
Is this story based on a true event or a previously existing narrative such as a myth or a legend? If so, how is it different from the original story and what was the reason for the changes made? If it is a creation of pure imagination, what makes the characters portrayed memorable and tangible as contemporary people? How are they significant in making this film different from other films if such was your intent?
How did you come up with the idea, that in the last moment of Tamara’s life, she reach down to touch a gloved hand, rather than his bare hand on the gear shift?
Big thanks to everybody for the excellent questions! I was able to work several into the interview, check out The Notebook soon for the video!
Thank you everyone for excellent questions. The interview is up.
It was shot on 35mm Neh!
I was glad that Gotz Spielmann touched on something I was wondering about, whether the ending is meant to be life affirming. It’s a very quiet optimism that resembles daily duty, daily moral responsibility, I suppose. I see Bresson as much as Ozu and Cassavetes in Spielmann’s film.
I thoroughly enjoyed Revanche. Also saw the interview – thanks Daniel. I have a better understainding of the director’s perspective. Interesting that he sights Ozu as an influence – I can see that in his attention to intimate detail in his scenes. I didn’t catch the name of the other director he mentions as an influence. Can someone enlighten me? It might be interesting to discuss the film, now that we have seen it. I didn’t catch the names of all the characters, so I am referring to them in terms to easily identify them. NOTE: Spoilers for those yet to see the film:
I thought it dealt with its subject in a completely honest manner. All the actors and scenes seemed right I thought the central – for me – scene was the one where the policeman shoots at the car and ‘accidently’ kills the young woman who is ‘just along for the ride.’ Did he ‘aim for the tires’ or not is certainly the key question. I watched that shooting scene a couple of times, but couldn’t tell if it was clear one way or the other. I would have loved to ask the director about it. We see the policeman shooting accurately on the range before, so we know he is a good shot. It seems to me that he was aiming at the bank robber and trying to kill him because he felt humiliated by the robber. He denies that he has even shot the woman, initially. So, his guilt seems greater than the bank robber. Yet, the fact that the bank robber has gotten involved with the wife of the policeman, and the fact she is unable to get pregnant with her husband, are other clues to the characters. As mentioned above, the key scene where the robber meets the policeman, and forgives him, is another key. Perhaps the film is really a story about forgiveness and not pre-judging others.
Throughout the film, we are dealing with the unexpected consequences of each characters actions. It is only as each character reflects on their own weakness: the policeman for killing the woman by aiming too high, the wife of the policeman for wanting to have sex with the criminal – even though she finds out his identity after the fact, the bank robber for bringing his girlfriend along for the robbery – that each must deal with their guilt. Because this film handles this honestly, without any melodrama, or even any violence – outside of the key shooting scene – marks this film as a considerable cut above the usual Hollywood style revenge melodrama. It is the ultimate humanity of the characters – their grounded reality – that is most striking. I thought the ending absolutely right.