Walter Salles’, (“Motorcycle Diaries”), new film is titled “On the Road” which tells the story of the pre-beat generation and Jack Kerouac a leader in the movement. With a cast that includes; Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi, Garrett Hedlund and Terrence Howard and a story that is fresh; Salles has the makings of a great film.
I had the honor of interviewing Mr. Salles and found him to be thoughtful and very sure of himself.
Terra-“On the Road” is an important film that tells the story of the time just before the beat generation came about and changed America in many different ways. How much pressure was there to make this film?
Walter-While making “The Motorcycle Diaries” I had a lot of pressure to get the lives or real characters right. For “On the Road,” we were able to trace Jack Kerouac by talking to several poets of the day such as Diane diPrima and Amiri Baraka.
Terra-You were lucky to have these people available to you.
Walter-It was crucial to have access to these poets and people who knew Jack.
Terra-The character of Dean doesn’t seem too concerned about the future. He lives in the moment as do many of the characters in “On the Road.”
Walter-That’s what Dean brings to the mix. The future is now and should be a journey opened to the young generation. This ignites and defines the story.
Terra-What initially attracted you to this project?
Walter-Dean and Sal both had issues with their father. I’m attracted to stories in which father/son, mother/daughter issues are a part of the story. I have also been working on a documentary with similar subject matter.
Terra-Several years ago you directed a film called “Dark Water.” It’s about a woman and her young daughter living in a dank, dark apartment; stalked by a ghost.
Walter-Yes, and there again is the mother/daughter relationship.
Terra-The film was so creepy and not just about the ghost. The water and dankness everywhere was horrible.
Walter-Yes, but was it her reality, or was it the reality in her head?
Terra-Walter, you’re from Brazil, were you aware of the beat generation?
Walter-(laughs) I was kind of like a lot of people my age. I thought the world started in 1968. There was the student protests in Paris, the woman’s rights movement and the demonstrations in Latin America. We were reinventing the world.
Terra-(laughs) So when did the beat generation start?
Walter-Jack started writing the book “On the Road” in 1951 and it was published in 1957. The movement started in 1954 in a San Francisco cafe with several poets who read poems here. There were people like; Allen Ginsberg, Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, and Philip Whalen. This was really the start.
Terra-This is a ‘road picture,’ almost the whole film features the cast driving all over the country. Did you actually take the show on the road, or was a lot of it stock footage>
Walter-After principle photography was done, we had a second unit that traveled from the east coast to the west coast. They stopped and along the way and shot footage. They didn’t know where they would be sleeping at night. It was a three week epic journey.
Terra-I hope they didn’t steal their food from little stores along the way. (In the film the characters often stopped and stole food from little stores. They stole gas, etc.
Walter-(laughs) No, they paid for their food.
Terra-You’ve been working on a documentary about the beat generation, which is part of the reason for the interviews and work you’ve done outside the film. When will this documentary be released?
Walter-I’ve been working on this documentary since 2005. My goal is to have it ready to be released in 2013.
Terra-What is your next project?
Walter-(with great enthusiasm) I’m going to spend time with my kids!
I would like to thank Walter Selles for taking his time to discuss “On the Road” and the beat generation. I will be reviewing this film, stay tuned here, subscribe to this column so you don’t miss a thing.
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