Friday, September 21, 2007

Beyond the Clouds revisited



During an interview conducted in Houston on a press tour for Queen Margot several years ago French actor Vincent Perez spoke about working with Michelangelo Antonioni in Beyond the Clouds.
The movie is like a testament, said Perez. It's his last movie, he's 82. There are four stories. It was weird, here was the same question, Do I believe in God?
My character was a thought of Antonioni, and he's at the end of his life, Perez said. He pauses a Pinter-esque five-seconds before continuing.
He couldn't say more than 20 words at a time. He was half-paralyzed, so it was very difficult for him to explain what he wanted to say. When he was saying Quiet, everybody was like .... Perez says ending the sentence with a percussive splashing sound.
Be careful, he's the master; he's still powerful today, even with those 20 words, recalled Perez.
Each word was used to give you an internal resonance, to understand something about the situation. My story is a man who's following a girl on the street. Normal, trying to seduce her. Superficial talk at the beginning and after that starting to talk about fears, about thoughts, about more deep things. Then she goes into a church, to a mass. Everyone is waiting to see what Michelangelo wants to do. How he wants to shoot the scene in the church. He didn't answer.
We're waiting four hours in this church. Suddenly he came to see me, somebody was helping him to walk. Then he told the person helping him to go away and I was the one who's helping him walk. We started to walk together.
We'd stop at a place in the church and he'd say, Beautiful, beauty. Bella! Bella!'We continued to walk to the crucifix, he kept saying Bella! After that he started to sing for me. He stopped singing and said, Bella! Bella!
Perez lets out a breath. It was like - not far from tears. After that he asked me to sit and close my eyes. We were standing alone. It's the first time I saw him alone without anybody helping him. I closed my eyes and in fact my movement, that was the movement of the camera, that was the scene.
After that, when I opened my eyes, Antonioni was there looking at me, crying with a little smile, Perez said. That was him at the end of his life.

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