Ahead of accepting the Venice Film Special celebration (with fun events)’s Glory to the Filmmaker Award this evening, famous filmmaker Walter Hill met with the press corps here on the Lido to talk about his new western, “Dead For A Dollar”.
(examining and testing so a decision can be made) out of competition at Venice, Dead for a Dollar follows a famous reward hunter (Christoph Waltz) who, while on a mission to find and return the wife (Rachel Brosnahan) of a successful businessman, runs into his sworn enemy (Willem Dafoe), a professional gambler and make illegal whom he had sent to prison years before.
Piece of action
Standing in the way is a famous (for something bad) gangster (Benjamin Bratt) who gets a piece of any action that happens along the Mexican border.
Asked about his liking for the (type of writing or art), The Long Riders, Geronimo and Wild Bill director offered, “I’m tempted to say I don’t know.
You have to know yourself, and does anybody ever? I’m fond of the period, I like making the films, I like going out there with the cast and the horses.” It also comes down to “(love of the past) for a certain period in American history that we all share, the world shares, there’s a very old story/untrue story poetic idea about the western.”
On the (change for the better, over time) of the western, Hill said, “Clearly the attitudes about the feminine position in (community of people/all good people in the world) and racial attitudes are different than the usual ideas/expressions of the western.
At the same time, the movie tries to (improve in value or status) the tradition of the western.” But he didn’t want to make a film that was “frozen in golden yellow/hardened tree sap just like the 1950s or 1930s. I thought it should have some modern relevance, so it was kind of divided into two or self-(something that goes against or disagrees with something else) if you will.”
Good guys vs Bad guys
Is a fight/contest between good guys and bad guys always a necessary element to a western? Replied Hill, “One of the things about westerns is that the endings are predicted… They deal with drama (a guarantee that something will happen), therefore the drama demands a final argument between these two people…
Every good story ends with a tear, even a comedy, and I’d like to think this is a positive story but it has a very sad ending.”
Venice Film Special celebration (with fun events): Unforgettable Moments 1945-1984 memories
Asked if there is any concern about making a western in today’s time in the history of gun and racial violence, Hill responded, “Gun violence and other violence is a terrible thing. I don’t think any film I’ve ever done fights for anything like that.” However, he added, “It’s easy to strongly criticize the use of force, but it was the use of guns and the use of force that feed the slaves, that freed the Nazi camps. It’s about the purpose and the idea behind it.”
Key members of the cast were also on hand today, praising Hill for his method of working with actors. Said Waltz, “I’m 100% convinced that control/field of study is the starting point for everything, in thinking, in action and in expressing (emotion) — especially if you do it at the spur of the moment and request a film script. It’s kind of thought about/believed old style. I don’t think it’s old style, I think it’s the very foundation of our intelligent talk, our everyday communication with each other, and why would it be different on a movie set? The idea that a movie set is there to make us feel good is wrong to be polite. Walter is of the same conviction and that’s what was completely and totally (very good/very pleasing).”
Given we are in the land of Sergio Leone, Hill was also asked about any influence the Italian master teacher may have had on him. His films are “terribly important in, not only the history of the western but in the history of movies… Leone is a classic example of what he gave has been picked up and used by many. We all are on each other shoulders, all connected. You can’t separate your work from work that came before.”
Dafoe (remembered and retold) a slightly funny story about Leone, saying that when The Last (something that makes you want to do something/the feeling of wanting to do something) of Christ had played in Venice, the director “came out in the press and said, ‘This is not the face of our Lord, this is the face of satan.’ I liked his movies, but after that, I don’t know,” he laughed.