Despite their obvious differences in story, theme and era, in my mind, Todd Haynes› [SAFE] and Nicolas Winding Refn’s THE NEON DEMON have somehow become tethered to each other. And I still do not know why, exactly.
Do the detox cult in [SAFE] and the predatory fashion scene in DEMON represent two sides of a coin? Is it the protagonists› failures to really connect, the many static moments of women sitting in or on a bed? Is it the slightly creepy L.A. setting, the emotional distance, the electronic score, the turquoise/pink bedroom design, the directors› predilections for frames within frames?
None of this is very extraordinary. Besides, if you compare two films, you always find both similarities and differences. So to explore those questions, I originally wanted to recreate the [SAFE] trailer with shots from THE NEON DEMON and vice versa. But I soon found that this was indeed too easy. So I decided only to include certain types of shots in order to suggest an alternative narrative based on the unaltered soundtrack of each original trailer. Additionally, I wanted to explore what an actual dialogue between the films› protagonists Carol and Jesse might reveal about their personalities and ultimately, how voices and speech patterns shape our impression of a character.
„But the basic, almost funny restriction that we placed on ourselves was this restrained coverage and distance from the character. The joke was, okay, let’s move in for a close-up but we never got very close. All of our proportions were appropriately adjusted from the starting point, which was wide. Minimal camera movement. “
Todd Haynes, 1995 in filmmakermagazine.com
Naturally in «Dialogue I», I relied exclusively on camera movement, from following the characters unobtrusively to more formal and even autonomous motion.
In «Dialogue II», the focus is on shots devoid of human figures. Cinematography by Natasha Braier.
«Dialogue III» invites the viewer/listener to explore not only the coincidental visual similarities (and the specific differences between them) but also to ask themselves whether they still perceive Carol (SAFE) and Jesse (DEMON) as specific characters when their interactions are reduced to generic situations and conversations. I’m especially interested to hear, how Carol and Jesse come across to viewers who haven’t seen the original films.