Peter Weir (Sydney, 1944) is the closest to an English gentleman who has given Australia. He is also the director who knew how to redefine the 80s with an uninterrupted series of masterpieces. From Gallipoli to Marriage of convenience through The year we live dangerously, Only witness or The club of the dead poets without forgetting cult tapes such as Picnic in Hanging Rock or The Last Wave , he is the evident proof that there was a time in the that commercial cinema could also be interesting. And the Truman show . And Master and Commander . Now he arrives in Madrid well prepared for tributes, walks and memory. The Spanish Film Library meets a retrospective of his career while the Madrid Film School (ECAM) opens its classrooms for a class, as it can not be otherwise, masterful. "I had a different memory of Madrid," he says. From the windows of the hotel located in the same square of the Cortes of Madrid, a demonstration of retirees. And on television screens, Barcelona on fire.
Q. How do you see this Spain so convulsed?
R. It reminds me of The Fall of the Roman Empire . The trials, the streets standing ... I don't know why, but before I came here I was reading the book and I said to myself: "This is exactly what happens in Spain." (Serie)
P. started making movies in the early 70's. In your opinion, what is the most important change your trade has undergone?
A. The cinema that I met no longer exists. I speak of the sensation of cinema, of the room ... I am not inclined to nostalgia, but that experience is a radical change in man, in art.
Q. What has disappeared is perhaps the central role of cinema in culture ...
A. What has disappeared is the director. I don't mean festival film, but the one intended for the general public. Television is a medium for writers or producers or 'showrunners' ... And cinema has ceased to have an identifiable voice.
Q. Is it recognized in the definition that identifies you as the last of the classic directors?
A. I remember a conversation in Venice with Fred Zinnemann. He told me that he believed I was one of his. I was flattered. I feel very close to the Hollywood of the 30s, from people like William Wyler. If I had a superpower I would not hesitate to move back in time to that time or even further back, to silent movies. I would like to have attended that moment when the cinema became sound.
P. Paul Schrader maintains that we live a strange time where there are no rules. The post-rule era calls it ...
A. I think we live very close to the extinction of a model that we consider eternal for decades. I remember a chapter of 'The Fall of the Roman Empire ' in which Emperor Constatino insists on building a new capital in Constantinople from the foundations. Then he realizes that all the referents who shaped his world no longer exist. The Greek sculptors who served as a model for the Roman Empire no longer live. And an instant arises very close to the horror. We had to wait for the Renaissance to see how everything was reborn again. There is always a need for art that makes us escape the routine. I am pessimistic, but only in the short term.
Q. What did the 80s have for you? It is assumed that, compared to the splendid previous decade, it was a disappointing time ...
A. What happened to me is that I decided to make the leap to Hollywood, but I did it from the admiration for that world. I didn't feel that I was betraying anything but quite the opposite. I was looking for new inspiration, new territories, new landscapes ...
P. In the 80's it was possible to make popular cinema also have an author's seal. It seems that this is no longer possible, that the language of cinema itself has degraded ...
A. I think that is part of the general decline. There is an excess of indulgence. Perhaps it is a reaction to snobbery in which a certain cinema has fallen. That has made popular cinema increasingly simple. Sometimes I think it is an advantage to have been born in a place like Australia or America where theoretically there are no classes or that sense of superiority so specific to certain circles.
Q. Recently, Martin Scorsese said that superhero cinema is not cinema, it is another kind of show ...
A. Perhaps it is a disease that not only infects the cinema but also the entire culture. There is a longing to prolong childhood. Culture and cinema have become infantilized. We have all grown up reading comics, but this current obsession with converting cinema is an amusement park for teenagers is incomprehensible to me.
Q. Maybe you have connected what you just said with the premonition of ' The Truman Show' . The whole reality turned into a show ...
A. Absolutely. Not long ago I visited Dubai and you realize that this is a kind of experiment of what the world will be shortly. They live in a bubble in the middle of the desert, as if they were on Mars. Everyone smiles. It is as if there was someone handling everything from the control as the character of Ed Harris in the movie. What is not seen is the exploitation behind.
Q. You have just presented at the 'Master and Command' Film Library, what moved you to this movie?
A. The desire to live the same lives of the characters. And that was the case for everyone who worked on it. We still keep in touch and treat each other as part of the same crew. It was a very complicated shoot where everything was real: from the boats to the explosions ... And so it was that I burst my eardrum.
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