Collyrium – A closer look at the cinema of Luca Guadagnino

Andrea Jean Varraud · 5 years ago
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The time to talk about Luca Guadagnino has come. As his latest feature is now in cinemas we are taking the opportunity to closely analyze his role as director, especially as an interdisciplinary artist. I say this because he has repeatedly stated in interviews that his dream as a director is to collaborate with the many creative personalities he esteems and respects and, as we will see in this article, that it is precisely what he did. Great collaborations generate great works.

Luca Guadagnino was born in Palermo in 1971 from an Italian father and an Algerian mother. It will be in the Sicilian capital that the young director starts to get interested to the cinema, shooting short footages with a Super8. Already in this first phase of life, Guadagnino becomes aware of the shocking beauty of the world around him and how a simple but thoughtful succession of images can trigger entirely new and powerful emotions. The inspired director will thereafter shortly move to Rome, where he graduates in literature at the z with a thesis on Jonathan Demme’s cinema.

Guadagnino will soon start to shoot and direct his first shorts and documentaries and finally, in 1999 we’ll see his film debut: The Protagonists, a work presented at the Venice Film Festival where a young Tilda Swinton will soon become his inspiring muse and fetish actress.

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After The Protagonist, comes Melissa P., which will prove to be a real flop, more on a critical than a commercial standpoint, in fact, it was included in the 2005 list of ugliest films. The story is about a teenage girl who lives her sexuality in a brutal and violent way. Already in this second work, you can immediately sense the director’s interest in the emotional and sexual sphere, which will lead him to create the trilogy of desire (I am Love, A Bigger Splash and finally Call Me by Your Name).

In 2009 I Am Love goes through international cinemas, the movie passed very quietly in Luca’scountry of origin whereas its international appreciation got it to win an Oscar with Italian costume director Antonella Cannarozzi using Raf Simons and Fendi designs. Despite the little success it had in Italy, the film is a real gem. In the movie, in fact, Guadagnino gives us a social overview of the “Milano bene” in which we often see lust is the true protagonist which is not made by sordid desire, it comes with sighs, sweat, and pure beauty. But I am love is also important for another reason: it marks the beginning of the interdisciplinary artistic concept mentioned earlier. The protagonist is again Tilda Swinton, music is by the famous American composer John Adams and finally, we find Walter Fasano, an outstanding personality with whom Guadagnino still collaborates, in the editing seat.

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A few years later, with A Bigger splash, Guadagnino returns to the concept of desire but this time the real protagonist of the film is the beautiful island of Pantelleria, it’s the story of the love affairs of four characters, masterly interpreted by Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson (whom we will also see later in Suspiria).

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It is only in 2017 that the trilogy of desire ends with the release of Call Me by Your Name, a film that radically changes its point of view. The director, in fact, investigates the homosexual love the two characters (Armie Hammer and Timothèe Chalamet) live intensely in the hot summer of 1983 in the Italian region of Lombardia. The film shot on a budget compared to his previous movies is almost entirely set in a beautiful country villa (which the director himself attempted to buy) depicted and filtered by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom’s intimate 35mm shots. We must also mention the incredible soundtrack walking us through from beginning to end, curated by the American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens, featuring some unpublished tracks including Mystery of Love. Call Me by Your Name name is definitely Guadagnino’s flagship effort, which earned him numerous nominations and also many prizes in various international festivals (including the Oscar to the best non-original script to James Ivory).

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After generating all this great noise with this last work, the director decided to radically change track directing a perhaps unnecessary remake of one of Dario Argento‘s masterpieces: Suspiria.

Guadagnino has repeatedly declared he was willing to shoot his version of this Horror classic and in 2018 the opportunity has come. The director, in the company of Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson as protagonists, Tom York at the music, Sayombhu Mukdeeprom behind the camera and once again Walter Fasano on the editing, directs a totally different but definitely worthy remake of the original version.

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As we have seen in this small study, Guadagnino’s cinema is far beyond mere entertainment. His cinema excites, its very close to being defined a work of art certainly thanks to the director’s sensitivity but also to the quality of the incredible teams in charge of production and after production working to create a masterful product under all aspects. Music, location (very often an Italy that exists only in the most popular American imagination), photography, set design and costumes are all very dear to the director who manages to coordinate everything perfectly.

Guadagnino is now working on a documentary on Salvatore Ferragamo, but it has been announced in the last few days that his next project will be a sequel to Call Me by Your Name, but no other information is at the moment available.

Collyrium – A closer look at the cinema of Luca Guadagnino
Collyrium – A closer look at the cinema of Luca Guadagnino
Collyrium – A closer look at the cinema of Luca Guadagnino
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