Ramon and Silvan Zürcher Introduce Their Film "The Girl and the Spider"

"Like the spider, the film weaves an increasingly complex web in which the characters breathe a longing for freedom, for boundlessness."

Ramon and Silvan Zürcher's The Girl and the Spider is now showing exclusively on MUBI in many countries from June 15, 2022, in the series The New Auteurs, as well as in the series MUBI Spotlight.

Drawing by Ramon Zürcher.

As with our first film The Strange Little Cat (2013), which is about a family reunion that takes place on one day in one apartment, in The Girl and the Spider we again take a familiar, everyday scene as the film’s starting point. This time, it’s about moving house.

The Girl and the Spider tells the story of the separation of two friends and roommates, Lisa and Mara. Lisa moves out, Mara stays behind. Two earth plates wedged into each other drift apart. What interested us in this simple starting point were the small earthquakes, some of them more palpable than visible, that take place at the psychological level. It is a psychological disaster film that poetically models the inner life of the abandoned. It is an audiovisual sculpture of a crisis that causes the world to sway and crack. 

We wanted to create an ambivalent portrait of Mara, who not only swims in a bath of melancholy, but also reacts with passive and lived aggression to the pain of abandonment. And yet Mara's attacks do not erase her pain. Mara has to learn again and again that everything is ephemeral—even the beauty of a relationship. Nothing can be preserved, not even in a drawing. Life is a river that carries everything along. For a while, you flow together until you lose each other. Thus the film articulates the longing for closeness and the pain of separation.

The inspiration behind Spider was a real event. We lived together for a couple of years in Berlin before Ramon moved out. This special breakup of a symbiotic foundation—as we are identical twins—was the starting point for the story. While working on the script, we came up with the idea of making a loose trilogy about human togetherness—the “animal trilogy,” with Little Cat as its first installment and Spider as its second. 

The spider is a very self-sufficient animal that can quickly create a new home with its own resources in different places. Its web, however, is a fragile, temporary home, of which only a delicate trace remains as time goes by. Like the spider weaves its web, the film weaves together characters and stories. An increasingly complex web in which the characters breathe a longing for freedom, for boundlessness.

We shot the film on the empty premises of a former beer brewery in Bern, Switzerland. There, we had studio-like conditions and were able to recreate all the apartments. At first, we also looked for original locations, but we couldn’t find anything that coincided with the floor plans in the script or that had the necessary shooting conditions we required. We put a green screen up in front of the windows so that in postproduction, we could add in the exterior views we shot in Bern and, to a small extent, in Berlin. This was pretty time-consuming in postproduction, but it did allow us more time for the shoot itself, especially since we didn’t have to travel from one place to another with the whole crew.

The two houses, with Lisa’s old flat-share and her new flat, form the central heart chambers. However, the film also opens up in two directions: to outside spaces on the one hand, and the characters’ spaces of memory and longing on the other. Thus dreams and flashbacks become a part of the action. Our goal was to create a poetic everyday world.

As with our first film, Alexander Hasskerl did the camerawork. Like Little Cat, Spider is also characterized by the contrast of a mostly static camera and a dynamic staging. The position of the camera was already considered in the script in order to coordinate the editing rhythm and the mise-en-scène.

Girl and the Spider

Instead of a purely naturalistic portrayal, we are fascinated by raising the degree of stylization in phases. By combining minimalist storytelling with this fantastical dimension, we try to create a subjective interpretation of reality. 

The chambermaid’s piano has a special meaning in the film, so early on, it became clear to us that the piano would become the central instrument of the film score. We came across the Belarusian waltz “Gramophone” by Eugen Doga by chance. We like its dynamics and melancholy—and the contrast it forms to the rather dramatic mood of the film. What we love about “Voyage, Voyage” by Desireless is the ’80s pop style and the longing, which fits well with Mara’s state of mind. 

We are currently preparing the shoot of our third feature film, The Sparrow in the Chimney, which will take place in the summer of 2022. In Sparrow, as in Little Cat, we will focus on the family again, this tricky structure we are born into and which, for a long time, we accept as a matter of course and we never question. At the center of the film is an all-controlling mother. Unlike Little Cat, which portrays a mother and her family frozen in constraints, Sparrow shows the liberation of a mother and her family from a dysfunctional and cold starting point. It is above all about the rebellion of the family members, who no longer accept that their lives are constantly determined by others. Rebellion is to become the pulsating heart of the film. With this concluding part, we want to sketch a utopia in a somehow fairytale way. To show that there are ways to escape a dysfunctional and toxic web.

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