‘Thinking will come later, you must especially feel my film’

Jessie Buckley and Men.

A film that is best judged on the ‘stomach’. This is how British director and author Alex Garland describes his popular horror film Men† ‘A film experience that works mainly on an instinctive level, rather than a cerebral one. It’s about whether it makes you angry or calms you down. You either reject or accept what you see. And that this is not so much the result of a thought process. That thought process may come later. And it can also contradict what you felt before. ‘

IN Men hopes the young widow Harper (Jessie Buckley, of The prodigal daughter) to recover in an idyllic English cottage. She has to deal with something: her husband James committed a horrific suicide (or died?) After she wanted a divorce. But in the rustic village where she lives, she meets only strange, ugly and wonderfully similar men, including the curious cottage owner, an intrusive priest and a naked forest god who roams the garden.

Men was received enthusiastically and suspiciously at the premiere at the Cannes Film Festival: was the parade of toxic men in the film feminist or pseudo-feminist horror? ‘I would like to tip that question a bit’, replies Garland (52), who calls video from England. ‘By disconnecting the question from the horror genre. My question would be: what does a non-feminist film look like? And would anyone make such a movie known? Does he wake up in the morning: ha, today I have to make a non-feminist film? It sounds to me like someone waking up and saying: today I have to make a racist film. So I can not see the point of that brand “a feminist movie”. The more interesting question for me is how people can be feminist or non-feminist, or racist or non-racist, even without being aware of it. Subconscious. But when someone asks me if I would deliberately make a feminist film, I just think: what the hell should I have done differently? ‘

Instructor Alex Garland.  Image Getty Images for IMDb

Instructor Alex Garland.Image Getty Images for IMDb

How did it start Men

‘By the green man or the leaf head. Images from antiquity found throughout Europe. They are seen in churches, sometimes also in architecture as an ornament. And in England there are also many pubs there The green man to be named. I noticed that. Suddenly it dawned on me how much we are surrounded by that iconography, but at the same time we are quite ignorant of it. I read about the different interpretations of the green man by neopagans and hippies: that he is a good-natured forest god. But in the pictures, the man looks like he is screaming, or very angry. Pretty scary actually, I did not see the good one like that. That discrepancy felt like something useful. ‘

Garland – pensive look, dark beard – first got his name as a writer. His acclaimed debut novel was published in 1996 The beach, about an English backpacker and the hunt for a secret, pristine beach in Thailand. Already during the filming of Danny Boyle, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, the novelist considered moving to Hollywood. “I went in on the set and thought, ‘Wait a minute, these people look like they’re having fun! They’re with a group, they talk and laugh in between the shots. If you’re writing a book, you’re sitting alone. on a chair for two years. Film seemed less lonely to me. It was not a creative choice, but a lifestyle choice. ‘

His first screenplay was 28 days later, Danny Boyle’s successful post-apocalyptic zombie virus film from 2002, which returned to the limelight with the outbreak of the pandemic. In 2016, Garland was nominated for an Oscar (Best Original Screenplay) for his directorial debut, the science fiction thriller Ex machine

Jessie Buckley and Paapa Essiedu in Men.  Picture

Jessie Buckley and Paapa Essiedu in Men.

When you do something new, you succeed in the first attempt. Was it a success?

‘Oh no, not at all. I remember going into the bookstore and getting copies of it for the first time The beach so lying. And a kind of outburst of pride expected in myself, the feeling that I had achieved something. Because it seemed to me to be something so unlikely: your book in the bookstore. But when I saw it, I felt nothing. It felt like someone else had written it. And I was almost embarrassed by how I stood there. It felt like an impact. And I have that feeling with everything now.

There’s only one of my movies I’ve ever seen again, that was Dredd (Garland’s comic film adaptation from 2012) red† One of my friends really wanted to see it, so I said, turn it on. I could look at it on a technical level, but at the same time it felt like something very far away from me.

“There is something strange about me, I know that well. There are probably people who react very differently to their own work. But that’s how I react. When I was younger, I imagined you collecting badges every time you wrote a book, made a movie, or wrote a song. Like a soldier with a coffin full of medals. And I thought I would be happier with my life if I had six badges instead of four. ‘

You once suggested that just like you stopped writing novels before, you could also stop directing feature films. What’s up with that?

‘I think two factors are involved. One is that I am an atheist and think I have only one life that I should explore as much as possible. This is accompanied by a certain restlessness. In addition, work is somewhat compulsive for me. I work really hard on something, just like it means something. So when the project is over, I immediately throw myself into the next project.

“I started to wonder if it really did matter. Or was I just the donkey chasing a carrot on a stick? And now I’m trying to figure out where that compulsion is coming from. Who am I trying to impress? Who’s doing? I’m funny? What would life be like without being compulsive? I try to think as honestly as possible about this. What is the reward for all that work? We also learn in school: that work, work itself, is a virtue. But is is that a good way to live? ‘

Jessie Buckley and Men.  Picture

Jessie Buckley and Men.

Enjoy the footage Men

Garland laughs. ‘I think it’s so hard to shoot a movie, so full of doubts and obstacles, that I do not know if I will ever be able to say that I enjoyed it. But the play with the grammar of the horror genre and English mythology, the idea of ​​a green and comfortable place, the postcard-like version of the country, with rolling hills and honey-colored huts everywhere, and so something with it found† Yes, I got some joy out of it. ‘

Books, movies, games

Alex Garland, son of political cartoonist Nicholas Garland and psychoanalyst Caroline Medawar, wrote three novels (The beachTesseractenCome on) and film scripts (28 days laternever let me go), directed films (Ex machineDestruction) and a TV series (The United States) and invented video games (Enslaved: Odyssey to the West† He is the grandson of zoologist and Nobel laureate Peter Medawar.

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