Sincere apologies for not posting my phone interview with On The Road director Walter Salles, which happened five days ago, until today. The gentle-mannered Salles is a highly articulate and often eloquent fellow. Have a listen and you’ll understand this for yourself. We were supposed to speak for 15 minutes — we wound up going for 46 minutes and 42 seconds. I could have danced all night.
On The Road director Walter Salles.
On The Road, which mostly takes place from 1948 to 1950 or ’51, always feels genuine and real and vivid in the moment. In no way is it a yesteryear timepiece thing. Salles did everything he could to implant this immediacy and realism, and is naturally proud of this effort.
“We were shooting something that had a real live quality,” Salles said early in our chat. “There was no makeup during that New York party scene so the camera could register the heat and joy and exhiliration of that moment….we tried to do this throughout the whole shoot…there is no blue screen in this film…every time we show snow, it’s real snow…the actors lived under those circumstances from minus 25 to 120 degrees…that last scene when Sal and Dean part in New York, Garett Hedlund stayed outside for six hours with a T-shirt and a ragged, thin leather jacket under the cold, and he would not come in for a second because he wanted to feel the garshness of that situaton…everything was being lived.”
On The Road “is masterful and rich and lusty, meditative and sensual and adventurous and lamenting all at once,” I wrote on 5.23 12 from Cannes. “It has Bernardo Bertolucci’s ‘nostalgia for the present’ except the present is 1949 to 1951 — it feels completely alive in that time. No hazy gauze, no bop nostalgia. Beautifully shot and cut, excitingly performed and deeply felt.
“It’s much, much better than I thought it would be given the long shoot and…I forget how long it’s been in post but it feels like ages. It’s so full of life and serene and mirthful in so many different ways. I was stirred and delighted and never less than fully engrossed as I watched it, and it’s great to finally run into a film that really hits it, and then hits it again and again.”