Life,  Reading

From ‘Wild Tales’ to ‘Son of the Wicked World’: Director Damián Szifron’s Twisted Journey

If you often watch the “two-minute movie talk” short video on the short video platform, you have probably seen such a wonderful story: “All the passengers on a plane know the same person, what
  will happen? Xiaomei and Uncle Xie Ding were chatting about her ex-boyfriend Da Zhuang, but the woman in the front row turned around and said that she was Da Zhuang’s elementary school teacher. When she turned around, a man with a beard said, “I am Erhei, Do you remember me? The teacher thought for a while and said, isn’t Da Zhuang your classmate? As
  soon as the words fell to the ground, someone said, this is really weird. I am the manager of a hypermarket. Da Zhuang used to be The employees of our company were fired by me. At this time, Uncle Xie Ding noticed something was wrong, and he asked loudly, does anyone here know Da Zhuang? People on the plane raised their hands, and then the uncle
  asked , why are you all here? Did you buy the air tickets yourself? Everyone answered no, some were won by a lottery, some were given as gifts, but they all had to sit today. At this moment, the flight attendant hurriedly came and said, Zhuang is the captain of this flight. He pursued me some time ago, but I refused. The door was locked after takeoff, and the call did not respond. At this time,
  Xiaomei suddenly said that I was the only one he cheated on. Friends. Suddenly the plane bumped and swooped down. Everyone hurriedly stabilized. The strong psychologist shouted outside the door, it is your parents who ruined your life. They demanded too much from you when you were born. They put the frustrated Emotions add to you, they make you suffer, not us.
  The plane continues to descend rapidly, and an old couple on the ground is sitting in the garden and reading a book. They are Da Zhuang’s parents. The two seem to hear something I turned my head and saw a plane was close at hand, and it was too late to escape.”
  This story, which was repeatedly retold in the short video, is actually the beginning of a movie. The movie is called “Savage Stories”, and it consists of 6 independent short stories. The temperament of each story is exactly the same as the first story on the plane. It is unexpected, completely out of control, and finally pushes emotions to the extreme.
  ”Wild Tale” was scored 8.8 points by 440,000 people on Douban, and its director is Damian Szfron. At the end of April this year, the Argentine director who likes Zhang Yimou and Wong Kar-wai came to China to participate in the Beijing International Film Festival. His latest film “Son of the Evil World” after 9 years was shortlisted for the main competition unit of this year’s Beijing Film Festival. A month later, he went to Europe to serve as a judge for the main competition of the Cannes Film Festival.
  On July 28, “Son of the Wicked World” was screened in Chinese theaters. This time he filmed a story completely different from “Savage Tales”.
The Story of the Madman and the Lone Wolf

  ”Son of the Wicked World” is a gangster film set in Baltimore, USA. In it, there is a marginalized FBI agent, a front-line policewoman who is very unpopular because of her honesty, and a mysterious and brutal indiscriminate shooting. commit. The police are in the open, and the murderer is in the dark, starting a cat and mouse game of life and death.
  The opening of the film is quite “Wild Tale” style. During a New Year’s Eve fireworks display, a mysterious gun explodes a man’s head in the top floor of a downtown apartment building, accompanied by the boom of fireworks explosions. The cross-editing of fireworks and bullets, death and carnival, combined with the fast-paced cheerful music, unfolds a frenzied and chilling picture.
  This opening paragraph seems to be Damien Szfron’s short greeting with the audience, announcing his return in the familiar “Wild Tale” style. Immediately afterwards, the movie screen darkened and became quiet, entering a depressing and dark atmosphere. He was about to tell a new story of hate and compassion.
  When the police arrived and traced the trajectory of the bullet, they believed the shooter was hiding in a high-rise building opposite. Then, an explosion occurred in an apartment in the building opposite, erasing all evidence. At this time, 29 people had been shot, and the shooter did not miss a single shot. Most of the people involved in the investigation believed that this was done by a terrorist organization. Only a young local street policeman objected. She felt that this was a lone wolf operation. In fact, she was also a lone wolf in the police force because she was not gregarious. The FBI agent who came to handle the case believed that she had the qualities of a good detective and that other police officers were useless, so they recruited this low-level cop as a “liaison”, essentially a right-hand man. But the two people with very bad tempers inevitably had a series of awkward frictions afterwards.
  The biggest difference between this movie and “Wild Tale” is that the story is full of depression and pain, and the hearts of several protagonists are covered with scars, but there is no hearty release until the end. The story ends with the mutual understanding and brief licking between the injured, but the murderer finally surrendered, and this moment of empathy only left a deeper pathos. At the end of the whole film, there is only a sigh, which is not as happy as “Wild Tale”.
  Why is Wild Tale so endearing? To use this year’s popular topic, who doesn’t have a moment when adults want to go crazy? And the characters in Wild Tales go mad in our stead. Two late-stage road rage sufferers had an inexplicable grievance on a desolate road, and ended up embracing each other and dying together; a blasting engineer who was tortured by endless bureaucratic procedures and went crazy lit a bomb in a downtown area in a fit of anger… The prototype of these
  stories , from Szfron’s own mad desires. On one occasion, he got into an altercation with another driver, who sped away in the Audi. He kept thinking, what if he found this guy with a flat tire a few miles ahead? What if it wasn’t me sitting in this car, but a huge, very strong guy, and wanted revenge on that guy? It was a good idea, he realized.
  ”Due to the limited space, you have to step on the accelerator to the bottom, and many times there will be a feeling of acceleration from 100 yards to 200 yards.” Szfron told “China News Weekly”, “so its emotional expression is more direct. . ” And in “Son of the Wicked World”, Szfron abandoned “crazy literature” and returned to a more realistic narrative style. The two opposing forces continue to accumulate strength and compete secretly, restrained like a few silent snakes.
  The origin of filming this story was earlier than “Wild Tale”. More than ten years ago, the picture about this story that appeared in Szifron’s mind should be an American story. This may be the projection of American movies in his mind. When he listed his favorite directors, almost all of them came from Hollywood, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Spielberg, Coppola… “Schindler’s List” and “The Godfather” are two films all over the world. An entry-level classic for movie fans, and also his favorite movie.
  After the success of “Wild Tale”, Szfron got more opportunities from all over the world, and he also had the opportunity to go to the United States, enter the top industrial system, and write this American story into the camera.

  Damien Szifron has hit the ground running with Wild Tales. Although he has shot two feature films, two TV series and two short films in Argentina before, he has been tepid. “Savage Tales” broke Argentina’s box office record in one fell swoop, and was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and the Cannes Palme d’Or, making him a hot Argentine director.
  The rising film star was born in Buenos Aires in 1975 and grew up in an Argentinian Jewish family. He liked movies since he was a child, and sometimes went to the cinema with his father to watch four or five movies a day. In high school, he shot low-budget films with his classmates in his spare time. Friends later called him a genius, a natural at writing, directing and editing.
  In the 1990s when he just embarked on the film road, it was a period of rapid development of Argentine films and emerging in the world. At that time, Argentina began to open many film schools and film majors, and there were more and more film students and practitioners. The younger generation of Argentine filmmakers grew rapidly, and Szifron was one of them.
  In this remote South American country, the development of the film industry over the past few decades has closely echoed the social development. Before 1983, Argentina was ruled by a military regime. At that time, some intellectuals secretly resisted, including creating literary and artistic works that reflected real reality, such as Fernando Solanas, who won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Berlin Film Festival. After 1983, the government wanted to establish its own national identity internationally, so it used movies as a communication tool to export its national cultural image abroad.
  During this phase, Argentine cinema entered the international scene and gained attention almost immediately. In 1985, Luis Puenzo’s “The Official Word” won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, the first time an Argentine film had won the award. In 1988, Fernando Solanas won the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival for “South”, which focused on the 1983 coup in Argentina.
  At that time, most of the Argentine films that attracted international attention were related to Argentina’s politics and society. Movies are a vivid window through which the international community understands what this South American country has experienced and how its people think about it through the eyes of filmmakers.
  In fact, today, when commercialization dominates the film world, Szfron has not completely broken away from this tradition. Behind the madness of “Wild Tales” is actually a society full of corruption, bureaucracy and severe inequality. Szfron starts the story with people who are driven to a desperate situation, and the invisible force deep in the story is the root of social problems.

“Son of the Evil World” stills.
american temptation

  Today in the Spanish-speaking world, the most well-known director is Pedro Almodovar, who is famous for his works such as “About My Mother”, “The Skin I Live In” and “The Glory of Pain”. Damien Szfron’s rise to prominence in the international film scene is also related to his help.
  Almodovar saw a work by Szfron in 2006, so he found his phone number and told him that he liked the film very much and hoped to have the opportunity to cooperate. Later, when Szfron sent the script of “Wild Tale” to Almodovar, Almodovar readily offered to be a producer. Almodovar gave him full creative freedom, “The script is great, don’t change a single comma. You know how to make this movie better than the rest of us, so just do your thing well.”
  Amo Doval personally promoted the film to Cannes, spared no effort to recommend it, and later went to many national platforms. “He is a very talented director, but more importantly, he is very generous to help other filmmakers.” Szifron told China News Weekly.
  Since then, Szfron has become famous all over the world and has also received olive branches. This American story, which was finally filmed in Montreal, Canada, allowed him to go out of South America from inside and outside the play to a wider and more mainstream world. In this English-language film he shot, the story no longer has a specific regional characteristic, but a popular American genre film. If you didn’t read the subtitles, you wouldn’t know it was the work of an Argentinian director.
  After all, “Wild Tales” was a flash of inspiration, and “Son of the Wicked World” means that he can control more universal commercial films with a little authorship. This may be a career transition towards the world market, but there is also the danger of losing your personal style. The gigantic roaring machine of Hollywood has absorbed outstanding filmmakers from all over the world, allowing them to spit out neat commercial productions, detracting from the slanting inspiration.
  Szifron is soberly vigilant about the strength of the American film industry. “When you see a foreign movie in your own country, it’s because it’s a good movie. But you can see a lot of American movies, but it’s not necessarily a good movie, just because the American movie industry is too powerful and the distribution channels It’s too much,” he said.
  This is indeed the case. Compared with American movies, Chinese audiences rarely see Argentine movies. Coincidentally, in the early summer of this year, a rare Argentine film festival was held in Shanghai. The 10 films selected by the film festival include “South” and “Travel” by film master Fernando Solanas, and “Official Statement”, which won an international award. “The Swamp”, as well as the new works in recent years, the two most famous ones are “Outstanding Citizens” and the other is “Wild Tales”.
  ”As an Argentinian worldview, of course I will maintain it. I don’t like to shoot works imposed on me by others. Every line of my script and every frame of the movie is made by myself. I will also maintain this characteristic. “Szfron said, “Of course, as for the genre, I also like different types of films, westerns, horror films, etc., I may try them all.”

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