Three minutes. Maybe, four. Then, "with luck" part of the public will have left. The wish is from the director of the film, Paul Schrader. Inaudito: the creator of The priest encourages viewers to flee from its projection. "If you're not ready, we want you to leave sooner or later. From the beginning I try to show that it will be a different experience. If you put up with it, you're committed to the film. It's like going to church: no one leaves because he gets bored. You knew from before what you were going for, and that's why you went, "reflects Schrader. The simile is not casual. Because, on the one hand, his film focuses on an evangelical pastor, tormented by too many specters. And, on the other, The priest It puts a hard test on the resistance of the spectator. Some will surrender exhausted. But others, like the many critics who have celebrated the film, will thank Schrader for his desire to complicate his life. The Spanish public can already measure themselves with the film.
When it premiered, at the Venice festival, it was said that The priest It was Schrader's darker work. Big words, for the screenwriter of Taxi Driver, Wild Bull or The last temptation of Christ and director of Affliction. Violence, sexuality, strong emotions and ruined men have marked the filmography of the American (Grand Rapids, 1946): the one that wrote and the one that filmed. He prefers not to respond: "I do not know if it's a dark movie or what are the times we live." But the plot of the film may offer some clue.
Reverend Toller fights more fights than he can endure: faith, loss, war, cancer and alcohol disorient the religious. It adds, in addition, the battle to which a pregnant woman drags him. She needs to encourage her husband, who sees the planet as condemned to death and prefers abortion to bring a child to this valley of tears. But how can the shepherd take care of the flock, if he does not have the strength to support himself? The ghosts of jihadist terrorism and the environment harden even more a work filmed in an almost square format, with a rhythm as slow and melancholy as its characters.
Even the camera itself tightens the string: the sequences always last a few seconds longer than usual, to give the viewer time to think, and uncomfortable. Schrader calls it "the scalpel of boredom" and claims his choices: "It is a serious film, art and essay. It has its roots in the European cinema of the seventies. Richard Linklater told me that no one has made a movie like this in 60 years. "
The director recognizes that The priest baby of Ingmar Bergman, Robert Bresson and also of Going, with which Pawel Pawlikowski won the Oscar for best non-English film in 2015. Precisely after a dinner with the Polish filmmaker, Schrader decided to film the film. "Before being a scriptwriter, I read a book about spirituality. But I never thought I would make films about that. Twenty years ago in any case I would not have been able to shoot it: it was too ambitious and my style was not so rigorous ", recognizes the creator, who was educated in the Calvinist faith. There were two more thrusts for The priest: the technological change – "nobody would have financed it, now I could shoot it in 20 days, with reasonable costs" – and the main actor, Ethan Hawke. "It gives the character a lost look, something very difficult for an interpreter," Schrader applauds.
For the rest, the filmmaker helped himself. "Sometimes when I write a script I realize that I'm the only one who would film it," he admits. So The priest It bears your signature in duplicate. In the text; and in his plans. "When we edited it, the editor told me: 'There's a lot of Taxi Driver! ' I did not do it, but I realized it was true. " The influence is more evident in one sequence, just as another intends to pay homage to Tarkovsky. On the phone, however, Schrader is laconic about the masterpieces he shot with Martin Scorsese: "I do not think about them."
More words the creator uses about the future. The one of the cinema seems to intrigue to him: "It is no longer worth anything of what we learned. The system of the big studios is dead and we are witnessing the birth of a new entertainment model. I do not think it's a transition, but a permanent change. " For the world, however, Schrader sees a horizon as black as the film: "This period of 150,000 years where the planet was covered by beings based on intelligence and consciousness will end at the end of this century. I have lived an era without major wars, with the explosion of birth and posterrorism. We had a wonderful world and what did we do with it? Fuck him Our gift to the future generation is selfishness. " As to be grateful.