Billy Gil graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and has worked for People and Daily Variety. He is the editor of the Pipeline section and IndieFile, both of which highlight independent films on DVD. For IndieFile tips and inquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For inclusion on IndieFile's Feedroom channel, contact Renee Rosado (email@example.com). Follow IndieFile on Twitter, at Twitter.com/IndieFile.
Director Loads ‘Blue Valentine’ Discs With More Narrative9 May, 2011 By: Billy Gil
Director Derek Cianfrance filmed hours and hours of footage before whittling it down to less than two hours for the heartbreaking Blue Valentine, which comes to DVD ($29.98) and Blu-ray Disc ($39.99) May 10 from Anchor Bay Entertainment.
“The two words I hate most as a filmmaker are ‘action’ and ‘cut,’” Cianfrance explained. “Once you get in the editing room, it’s just murder, ... especially a movie like this, because there are so many moments and gifts the actors will give you.”
The movie stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, who garnered an Academy Award nomination for best actress for her role, as a couple falling in and out of love, cutting back and forth between past and present. Rather than view the proceedings in a linear fashion, viewers see moments in the couple’s history, both small and pivotal, from his serenade to her in front of a bridal shop as she tap dances, to later on, when the couple implodes during the Fourth of July.
“The past informs the present, the present informs the past and vice versa,” Cianfrance said.
Similarly, Cianfrance went back and forth to the script, which was written after making his first feature film (Brother Tied, in 1998). Cianfrance said he rewrote the script more than 60 times, at first having been inspired by other films more and then by his own life, as he struggled financially and made TV documentary films and shorts to make ends meet. It shows in the end result, as the film feels lived in and more like a true-life romance story, rather than an idealized one.
“I was thankful that I had to wait,” he said. “I felt like I was cursed for all those 12 years, but now I feel that I was blessed that I had to wait ... to be able to tell the story the way I wanted to.”
Cianfrance said there were several moments he filmed between the actors that didn’t make it into the film that he was able to include on the home video releases, both in deleted scenes and in a “home movie” featurette in which Gosling and Williams (who served as executive producers on the film and are rumored to be dating) were filmed basically living in a house for about a month together.
“The way I shot the film wasn’t in a traditional way where you’re just shooting what’s in the script,” he said. “It was like they were really falling in love.”
In one deleted scene, viewers see the couple’s first kiss — which didn’t make it into the film, but was used as the image on the film’s poster art.
“You see what led to that,” Cianfrance said. “Right when they start to kiss in that moment, the camera rolled out. It’s just amazing to me to go back to watch what got to that moment. It wasn't anything where I was like, ‘you, Ryan, sit here, and you and Michelle make out.’ It became that after about 15 minutes of an experience.”
“I always think there’s a whole life to a film outside of a movie,” he added. “This just gives people more insight into things that happen outside of the movie.”
One thing the discs won’t have is an alternate cut to the film, which was originally given an ‘NC-17’ rating by the MPAA but later changed on appeal to an ‘R.’ The discs also include a commentary with Cianfrance and co-editor Jim Helton.