I got a half-step closer to my dream interview with Sofia Coppola. It was not a one-on-one, it was more like one-on-a-hundred, but I got a question in thanks to moderator Scott Mantz, and I recieved a great answer from Sofia and Cailee Spaeny who received the Best Actress prize at Venice for her portrayal of the title role in “Priscilla”.
This question was inspired by an observation of Cailee’s that was published in The Independent: “I think what was so great about Sofia’s movies is that she focuses on these really simple shots that they almost look like photographs. She lets you sit there and breathe, and so it becomes something special.” These collective moments build the mood of her films, and come alive when viewed through her auteur lens.
This results in us becoming fully immersed in each world that she meticulously creates, and this is why she is one of my favorite directors. So many beautiful images from her films have become eternally etched in my mind: Charlotte skipping on the rocks in the water by the temple, Lux daydreaming in a corn field, Amy looking for mushrooms in the southern fields, Cleo drinking tea at the bottom of the pool, and now, Priscilla’s bare feet walking in the shag carpeting at Graceland.
“Priscilla” comes to theaters nationwide on Friday.
Sofia, you have crafted so much of my favorite visual poetry in cinema, and I loved how Cailee recently likened your films to photography that allows the viewer to sit and breathe in each moment. My question for you both: Is there a particular moment in “Priscilla” that stands out to you in how it immerses us in the main character’s experience?
Sofia Coppola: Well thank you! That’s what I love about adapting something is translating it into visuals. It’s hard for me to pick a moment. I mean, I just started with the bare feet sinking in the carpet, and I hope it gets the audience into the idea that we are going to experience the film through her shoes and through her eyes. I hope all these moments build to give you that feeling. It was great to translate that.
I remember one part in the book where she is going to Catholic school and she’s partying all night with Elvis. She has to go to school the next morning and she’s thinking, ‘How am I going to explain to the nuns that I’m picking out which hand gun goes with which glittery dress?’ So we have a shot of her laying out the guns. It’s just these moments of the crazy contrasts in her life.
One of my favorite moments is when she is about to go into labor and puts the eyelashes on. It says so much about her and women at that time. Just this over-the-top glamorous idea of women. So yeah, it’s hard to pick one moment, but those are some that stand out.
Cailee Spaeny: I also love when she puts on the false eyelashes before giving birth because it says so much. And I love that moment where she first moves into Graceland and she’s sitting on all of those chairs.
Coppola: I love when she’s sitting on the couch and you can see that she’s practicing what it’s going to be like to be the lady in the house. Or just getting in your private space in all of those moments. Cailee conveys that so well.