Brave to be naked
Watching a film is to a certain extent a ménage à deux between every individual viewer and the film itself, not its author. The most brutal of the arts, cinema is in fact a form of prostitution with a fairly high risk of infection from which the fimmaker, to his illusory solace, is somehow spared. Therefore, and very luckily, he is the least expected, let alone entitled, to comment on his own work.
Moreover, films are made to say what words or still images can’t, making once more explanations just pedantic intrusions. And this not so much to loose the author from responsibilities that are intrinsically inescapable as to trust the film and respect its sole end—the audience. In this sense, I tried to approach Brave Naked with the same attitude I normally have towards others’ work. Much or little, Brave Naked comes in earnest and peace meaning to say nothing more than what any single viewer will hear, and if found completely dumb, well—fair enough, as no words will ever manage to fill that silence, my failure.
So what follows is not the unseemly attempt to guide the unfortunate, if welcome, reader, rather a scarce selection of the series of dreams that brought me here and will drive me further.
Like many I spend a lot of time on the urban transports. Buses and tube have long become the cosy, improbable office that I share with other commuters. And in the occasional pause from reading or writing—that incredibly creative intermission—I can't help observing my counterparts. Lost in my thoughts I see them from afar, moving in herd according to an established routine. I wonder if they they know what they are doing, why they are there, where they are going, who they are. It is with these questions buzzing unnoticed in the remotest parts of my brain that I started to picture a character. Vince (from the Latin vincere, to win), a low carb biped living in an utopical city estranged from its time and inhabitants, is his own routine. Simple objects, nasty things, physically painful ones—for him the unquestioned habit becomes literal, hence something to actually wear..
The old and the young
As the Old Man evangelically stated in an early draft of the script, 'the difference between the old and the young is something that keeps them apart more than time'. We grow and change, and grow and get old, and are still the same person. Perhaps. Vince looks himself as a child in the eyes and talks to the man he will or might be. He gets from the former the blade that might cut him into a different future. That's true, I guess—we exist in time.
There is no albatross in Brave Naked, although there is, at least in the form of a remote echo. I conceived the story having in mind Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a poem close to my heart since when I studied it at school. Brave Naked couldn't be farther from being an homage to it, although its atmosphere, as I perceive it, found somewhat its way into the tone of my characters.
Coleridge's poem begins with a mariner setting sail on a journey. Despite initial good fortune, the ship is driven by a storm to Antarctic waters where the adverse conditions seem to destine the crew to the worst. Eventually an albatross appears and leads them out of the ice jam where they are stuck, but even as the albatross is praised by the ship's crew, the mariner shoots the bird: "With my cross-bow, I shot the albatross."
I was always struck by the inexplicability of the abrupt gesture, which I later came to read as one of the most intimate attitudes of the human nature. So the Old Man is in a certain way Vince's albatross or, if you like, his private antithetical saviour.
The land of the free
Out of the blue, Bob Dylan makes his strange, slight appearance in the film. Inquired about his change of name he actually once said, "You call yourself what you want to call yourself. This is the land of the free." (From an interview for CBS by Ed Bradley, aired the 5th of December, 2004)
It might well be a minor anecdote about an artist who's also one of my oldest, unaware travel companions, but as random, bizarre and self-indulgent quoting him might sound, and certainly is, I felt it candidly symbolised the extreme will to free ourselves from who we are passively given to be. Perhaps it is also the best answer we could ever give to Smith's bitter, provocative poser on the difference between the old and the young. However questionable in the general sense how free this world really is, it is the freedom we are brave enough to acknowledge and take that makes our own land free.