Historia de la meva mort by Albert Serra
Depicted as the “enfant terrible of Spanish cinema” by Olivier Père, Albert Serra certainly does not encumber himself with politically correct answers.
As the first question resonates in the room, Serra sets the tone: “I hate fantastic films!” At first, he was not interested into the character of Dracula. The idea grew on him when he was showing his previous film, Honor de cavallería, in Romania. But he felt the need to associate the vampire Count with a fictional figure he loved, and Casanova appeared to be the perfect fit. According to him, these two pagan seducers have similarities with one another, since both of them evoke images of desire and pleasure. Besides, the 18th century imaginary, its nightlife, and its mundane culture fascinate him. “I wanted to make a film about the night when real desires appear”.
Far from being a mere adaptation of the life of Casanova, the film plunges the spectator in a fantastic realm, a dreamlike experience. “I wanted to make a film that has nothing in common with our life. The characters are only born within the film. Nothing is related to the original source.” His former experience as an art curator has certainly expanded and nourished his creativity. He found more freedom, for in the art world “there is a suspension of judgment.”
414 hours of shooting were necessary to compose this eerie tale. As Serra explains it, the original material was in “disorder”, and he had to put some coherence in it. Moreover, the Catalan director left a lot of room for improvisation. Working with non-professional actors, brings a sense of “innocence”, a notion, which seems at the core of his vision. “When you watch a film you need to trust, to be innocent. To be a believer, you need to have innocence”. He reckons that improvisation enables the beauty of the encounter to emerge. The idea was to create a discourse by relying on philosophical and historical events, but within a film that doesn’t take itself seriously.
As for the question about the reception of his works, he confessed openly that he doesn’t mind about the audience’s opinion. “Sometimes they love the film but for the wrong reasons, so it is pointless”. Serra goes even further when he subversively states that his new film is “unfuckable”. “You cannot find bad things in the film. It has no weak places, it is beyond criticism”.
A new player has definitely made a dramatic entrance into the arena of the Concorso internazionale. Under the spectre of this infernal union and despite being “unfuckable”, this film might still be desirable.