On the perspective from which the film is told:
Luca Guadagnino: The book was sort of a Proustian book about remembering things passed, and indulging into the age of … the melancholy of lost things, I would say. I felt that was beautiful, but at the same time, I felt that a movie in present time would’ve been much more efficient and strong in relaying, in making an audience to be in the shoes of these characters. Also, I personally dislike the idea of voiceover of your main character, telling you the story retrospectively, because in a way, it’s something that kills the surprise. I like in cinema when you have an omniscient narrator like Berlinger for instance, that is something that fascinates me a lot, and in fact, I wanted to have that here … and in a way, the narrator became … Sufjan Stevens, with his new songs made from now…
On connecting with cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom:
Luca Guadagnino: It was my second film as a producer, because he had made the movie that I produced, called Antonia by Ferdinando Cito Filomarino. That’s how we got to meet Sayombhu Mukdeeprom … because Ferdinando loved Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s films, and then, when I asked him, “Who would you like to work with as a DP?” And he said to me, “This guy.” And we contacted him, then Ferdinando and Sayombhu met, and they basically fell in love with one another. Then he came to make this movie, which was his first non-Thai film ever, and then, while we were doing Antonia, our production designer was Bruno Duarte, who was the beloved designer of the Miguel Gomes and then, he went to do the Miguel Gomes film.
But our last ship with Sayombhu was so exquisite and extraordinary, and his capacity of creating an atmosphere, and at the same time, understanding the characters was so astonishing that I had to beg Ferdinando to allow me to call Sayombhu because I was very [conscious] of his relationship and finally he said, “Okay, go ahead.” And I approached him, and he came, and it’s interesting that you say that he has a very strong sensitivity of the natural light, which is true, but it’s funny enough, we wanted to have these kind of scorching summers heat in the film, but the the process was really plagued by heavy rains that lasted almost for the entirety of the shoot. So he created the light completely artificially. It’s a complete artificial light that tried to create Lombardian summer light, from the Thailandese perspective.
On the costumes:
Luca Guadagnino: It was very important for us for the movie not to look period, and for the movie not to look, in a way, a reflection on the 80s, the way usually cinema does when it becomes period. It’s very difficult to resist the temptation of thinking of a period from our perspective, and to say, “Okay. Our idea of the eighties,” I mean, you see for instance, a masterpiece of all times, that is 2001, and we can’t deny the fact that there’s a lot of 60s futuristic fashion in the way Kubrick and his team put together the idea of 2001. In fact, 2001 wasn’t like that when we got there finally.
And I respect that. I like that. Another way of making a costume design that is as striking and astonishing as like what Milena Canonero did with Dick Tracy. The idea of the cartoon 40s and Hollywood was fantastic, but what I prefer for myself is to be invisible. To really try to … which is probably the greatest of the artifices, to reconstruct something that is not anymore, but try to be as close to what it was. So we had a lot of research. One thing we did, Crema is a very small village. So we’d found the possibility to enter in other people’s houses, and they gave us their pictures of their 80s. So we had like a big, big book, and we discovered a lot. For instance, not all the ladies had big shoulders. Not all the ladies had big hair. This is something that these became a sort of a canon of the 80s representation, but that’s not exactly how it was.
Talking about the costume design, I like very much how Giulia Piersanti indicated where Elio is going at the very end of the movie, with his kind of a new romantic look. It was very, very beautiful, and you know, sometimes when you work in a movie, and you have like 50 people around you, everyone has their own film, and when she came with this shirt full of faces, looking here and there, I really found it’s beautiful, because she found this idea that was very strong for him. It was very strong, and helped me and Timmy to put that last image together.
On casting Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer:
Luca Guadagnino: I met Timmy a few years, while I was still producing the film, and Brian Swardstrom, who is the agent of Timothy, and also a friend of the court, as they say here. He said, “You should meet, because this young man is fantastic.” And we did meet, and I really felt immediately that he had the ambition, the intelligence, the sensitivity, the naivety, and the artistry to be Elio, and in fact, I kept having a relation with him through the years, and then, when I decided that I was doing the movie, I called him, and we had our final conversation, which was the beginning of everything, in a way.
And I fell for him, and then, for Armie, the same. Like, I saw him in The Social Network. I think that’s where we all got aware of him. Then I followed his movies. I found that, for instance, he was fantastic in The Lone Ranger and the portrait he made of the lover of J. Edgar Hoover in J. Edgar was beautiful. So I met him, and I would say I found the two men playing the roles capable of showing fragility, and I think that is important. For the chemistry, I don’t do chemistry, I don’t auditions as well. I felt I was cool with them. So I thought, arrogantly enough, that they were going to be cool between one another.
Credit: Getty / Bryan Bedder
In select theaters November 24th.