NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2006 NEWS:
a great video to watch at youtube.com called "Stellan
Skarsgård Movies Tribune".
I have a little gem, which can be found at
youtube.com. Back in 1991 Stellan took part in a music video
with Swedish singer Eva Dahlgreen. The song was "Vem tänder stjärnorna"
which translates to "Who is setting the stars alight?" It's a beautiful
love song and if anyone would like the translated lyrics, I will gladly
send them. How grateful we are to have the chance to view this video!
Stellan looks wonderful, very youthful. I would like to thank Judith of
Germany for sharing this with us. Enjoy!
are several short audio clips at the German web site -
- that I think you'll find most interesting regarding GOYA'S GHOSTS.
They were taken from interviews with the director, producer and the
film's three leads. There is also a critique by Nana A.T. Rebhan, who
points out why Goya is not the subject of the film and possibly why
Stellan was asked to perform it with such reserve. Forman explained,
"Goya was most likely a very boring person. We know nothing at all about
him, apart from some biographic data. He wrote, for example, no diary.
He was a well-known personality, but none of his contemporaries wrote
anything about him. He communicated only with his canvas. The only thing
he wrote, which we have, are his letters to a childhood friend, but
these letters are unbelievably trivial and banal." Thus, the fictional
character of Brother Lorenzo was drawn as the film's central figure.
Behan admits that even though Javier Bardem embodies this character in a
marvelous performance, it's not enough for "Goya's Ghosts" to become an
outstanding film. However, she believes the film is worth seeing because
of the way it's carefully produced with its historically faithful
scenes. She assures all true fans of the director that they will not be
Fischer recently interviewed Melissa George, who co-stars with Stellan
in the upcoming WAZ. These were her
comments about the film - "It was probably one of the greatest acting
experiences. I play a rookie cop to Stellan’s character and once again
this amazing relationship between Stellan and me unfolds as we’re going
after a serial killer. I discover myself throughout this story and it’s
about altruism, almost like what happens in nature when a monkey, for
example, goes out in front of the wild to protect three hundred
monkeys in their clan and gets killed in order to save their gene pool.
So it’s about this story about how far will you go, how much pain will
it take before you kill somebody you absolutely love and couldn’t live
without. It’s also a serial killer story that is quite genius, really
gritty, and we shot it on hand held, which was great."
are some new clips from GOYA'S GHOSTS available at the German web
Spiegel Online. They each run under a minute and are dubbed in
German. Two of the four clips show Stellan - one with Ines (Portman) as
he paints her, the second is a confrontation with Brother Lorenzo
(Bardem). The third clip shows Lorenzo with Brother Gregorio (Michael
Lonsdale) and the last is the scene when Ines is tortured. The following
are a few observations by the German film critics. Birgit Glombitza expected to
witness another grandiose film from such a distinguished director.
Instead she believes Forman failed in recognizing the true rebellious
soul of Goya as depicted in his paintings, so the audience is left
viewing one of Europe's greatest artists as a very weak, characterless
observer. On the other hand, Wolfgang Hübner describes the
film as a masterpiece! He believes Stellan is actually a larger man than
Goya but admits they have very similar facial characteristics. Leif Kramp calls the film "rich, exciting historical
cinema." Sarah Mersch, who gives it two out of five stars,
believes the film doesn't function well because there's too much
concentration on history. Till Kadritzke praises the
beginning of the film, its strong actors, the costumes, which would
surely win an Oscar, but ultimately finds the film flawed because of its
script. He states, "One leaves the cinema with a strange discontent, which cannot at
all be explained easily." He also questions whether expectations are
simply too high because it's a Forman film. Jörg Gerle of Film Dienst
believes the problem with the film is there is so little interest in
Goya and the title should therefore have been "Lorenzo's Ghosts".
Hanns-Georg Rodek criticizes the film for the difficulty the viewer
incurs struggling to arrive at the proper perspective with all its
detours and pre-supposing historical facts. Though Pia Horlacher
has some criticisms with the script and camera work, she refers to the
film as a "captivating costume drama."
According to London reporter Archie Thomas,
GOYA'S GHOSTS "underperformed in its
Spanish opening, taking $802,532 at 361 theatres. Exhibs point to
audience fatigue with historical dramas as cause for the soft bow.
Bookers report that word of mouth is not that positive and are not
predicting a long run for 'Ghosts.'" The film will open in Germany on
Thursday. I'm hesitant to share reviews on the German-dubbed version
because, based on the feedback from Spain, there seems to be a major
difference in perception of the film when it's dubbed. This is a valid
observation simply from viewing the trailers. Since the film has an international cast, much criticism has been directed at the
hodgepodge of accents undermining its authenticity, which was one of the
major problems in BEOWULF AND GRENDEL. [By the way, Milos Forman,
who has never found a biopic he didn't want to direct, will next tackle
the story of Amarillo Slim Preston, who has never thought of a bet he
didn't want to make. Film production is slated for 2008 with Nicolas
Cage in the lead role]
We have another review in English from Variety
film critic Jonathan Holland. He sums up the screenplay as being an
"ambitious script stranded between entertainment and intellectualism"
which ultimately delivers "a flawed and somewhat sterile discourse on
the dangers of unlimited power, hypocrisy and mistaken identity." The
performances score high except for Javier Bardem's. Holland writes,
"Though his face is a wonderfully expressive vehicle, Bardem is hampered
here by his English-language delivery, which is often muttered, oddly
stressed and sometimes downright incomprehensible." He describes Natalie
Portman as a "particularly convincing muse for Goya earlier on" and then
eventually ends up "wearing startling, uglifying makeup and doing a good
turn as a trembling madwoman". Regarding Stellan's role, he writes, "It
was probably wise of Forman and co-scenarist Jean-Claude Carriere to
present Goya as man rather than myth, and Skarsgård plays the
swaggering, devil-may-care painter, later descending into embittered
deafness, with perception and brio."What Holland does celebrate is
the film's visuals - "This period of Spanish history has never been
cinematically depicted with such potency... Javier Aguirresarobe
successfully unveils sumptuous, spacious interiors, dark dungeons,
teeming taverns and (briefly) battlefields. The palely illuminated,
wordless sequence when Ines hopelessly wanders the battle-ravaged
streets of Madrid is pure poetry. Goya's magnificently grotesque
depictions of the era receive homage throughout."
In a Spanish interview with Susana Cachaldora,
Stellan says he doesn't want to think about his own ghosts. She
regards him as an actor hardly known outside his country, but Stellan
concedes it's an advantage which enables him to make his characters more
credible, a character such as the famous Spanish painter. What was it
like to be offered the script? He responds, "An enormous surprise. For
me, it meant a lot because the project attracted me from the beginning.
There was Milos, the script with its melodramatic structure - the emotional
dryness and the intelligence with which it was written." Was it
difficult preparing for the role? He replies, "The preparation always
seems complicated to me and then there is the doubt. I anticipate
work, pain and much fear. The complicated thing about interpreting
Goya is that he is a very defined, very well-known person, and the
expectations from audiences, specifically in Spain, are very clear."
He refers to working with his co-stars as "fantastic" and though he was
familiar with Javier's films, he was very moved in having the chance to
meet him in person. Shooting the film brought no disappointments and it
actually was fun. The food was definitely a plus as well. When Stellan
is asked whether the characters of Goya and Lorenzo could exist in
today's world, he says he believes they could because "humanity hasn't
changed so much. The clothes can be altered, but there are many people
who will identify themselves with the actions of either Goya or Brother
Lorenzo." And though censorship still exists, he says the great
difference is, "Today I'm not afraid that I'll have my head cut off."
to Swedish sources, GOYA'S GHOSTS
will be released in the US in the spring. The film will also premiere in
Stellan's nativeland at the Göteborg Film Festival in February.
There's a very brief interview with Stellan at the premiere last Tuesday that can be viewed at this
Expressen TV link. In an interview with Gunnar Rehlin in
Madrid, Stellan said he wasn't sure how the Spaniards would react to a
6'4" tall Swede playing their national saint when Goya was actually a
small and chubby man. Laughing, he said, "I might have to escape from
this country after the gala premiere." Rehlin reports that there wasn't
any risk of Stellan feeling unwelcomed in Spain. On the contrary,
everyone was saying his performance was as good as it could be, and his
director was spreading words of praise about him. Forman said, "It would
be easy for a painter as praised as Goya to be portrayed as a person
larger than life, as a mystical person. Stellan is not like that. He
works with small and very subtle means and makes Goya into a credible
person throughout the whole film." Stellan admits, "I've always been
fascinated with Goya. When I was in Madrid for the first time many years
ago, I visited the Museo del Prado and fell for Goya’s paintings. Since
then I’ve read a lot about him, so when I got the offer, I already knew
a lot about him."
He adds, "Everybody wants to work with Milos Forman.
He has never made a bad film, or one that wasn’t interesting, and
everyone knows he’s a director who cares for his actors. And we like
that sort of thing. And it turned out to be exactly as I imagined it
would be. It was a fun and very pleasant shoot. The only problem might
have been that the Spanish food was too good." Stellan believes it was
meant to open in the USA before Christmas in order to qualify for the
Academy Award nominations, but it was finished so late that it wasn't
possible. When he returns from Spain, Stellan plans to relax, spend time
with his family and read scripts. PIRATES III has finished shooting, but
despite the fact it has become a great financial success in the history
of cinema, it hasn't changed his job offerings. "Not at all," he says,
"That's what my agent says too. A fun job, that's all." (Many thanks to Robin Solsjö Höglund
for his translation)
wasn't much coverage of the Madrid premiere of
GOYA'S GHOSTS last night
but I did find this one small photo of Stellan. As you might have
definitely shies away from the traditional jacket and tie combo. Though
there was another premiere in Zaragoza this evening and a third one in
Valencia tomorrow night, I wouldn't expect to see any more photos.
Spain's Fotogramas magazine gave the film two stars out of five.
I didn't read the review, so I'm not sure what their criticism was aimed
at. It doesn't seem fair to grumble about the fact that it's not a Goya
biopic. Forman admitted, "Emotionally, the film is about Ines (played by
Natalie Portman)." At least the director doesn't seem fazed by the
criticism. According to the Washington Post, he joked to the
reporters, "If you like it, it's your film. If you don't like it, it's
my film." Film critic Elisabeth O'Leary points out that, "'Goya's Ghosts
is beautifully shot and the sets are sumptuous, but the pace is a little
uneven and some of the incidents perhaps melodramatic." Peter Besas of
Screen Daily finds Javier Bardem "riveting" as usual, ably
carrying the weight of the film with fine support from Stellan and from
Natalie Portman, who successfully applies herself to multiple parts.
Besas concludes with - "But 'Goya's Ghosts' really shines on the
technical front. Production design is lavish - the shoot used several of
Spain’s royal palaces - and recreates street scenes to winning effect,
while costume design meshes with the change of moods. Javier
Aguirresarobe's photography is crisp and colourful and the editing
propels the narrative along briskly. The only real technical flaw is a
somewhat overpowering musical score...."
Follow this link for a two-minute featurette with cast
was in Madrid today participating in the photo call for GOYA'S GHOSTS.
Milos Forman was also joined by cast members Blanca Portillo, Randy
Quaid and Jose Luis Gomez. Check out the picture gallery. The premiere will take place tomorrow
evening. I'm sure the Czech director is disappointed that his two
leading stars, Javier Bardem and Natalie Portman, will not attend any of
the premieres this week though he remained outwardly very good humored.
Forman said he had spoken with Javier on the telephone and although the
Spanish actor had wanted to attend, in the end it was simply impossible
since he's now filming "Love in the Time of Cholera" in South America.
Strangely, Forman was told Natalie's publicist was prohibiting her from
traveling to Spain.
When asked about his portrayal of Goya, Stellan said
the difficulty in giving life to the painter was basically knowing how
to deal with a person with the stature of Goya. When people usually put
such people on a pedestal, it seems they are not human. He stated that
he had read quite a bit on Goya but his real connection was through his
paintings because through them, he could understand how Goya perceived
society and you could feel his rage and fears. Stellan concluded, "He is
very alive through his paintings."