Jonathan Glazer: Under The Skin

The English filmmaker turned 54 today. He made his debut with 2000 crime film Sexy Beast followed by 2004 drama Birth. Nine years later, he came up with science-fiction film Under The Skin, which is not just a masterpiece, but also ranks among the greatest films made in the 21st century.

Jonathan Glazer: Under The Skin Jonathan Glazer: Under The Skin Source : Film4

Under the Skin is loosely based on Michel Faber's science fiction novel of the same name. Scarlet Johansson plays the woman who is an alien under the skin. She has come on earth to gather information about humans. She dons a black wig, fur coat, bright lipstick and drives a Transit van around Glasgow in search of men.
She comes across different kinds of men who become her prey lured by the beauty. She has a sex appeal but it is just her body, her skin.

Nobody knows what's inside because they don't care. Neither they have any fear until they interact with her. The way men react to her presence and approach her speak about their character more than hers who is on a fascinating journey of discovery. She learns how everyone reacts differently to her, and that makes her question her own identity. In the end, when she stops being the predator, she becomes a prey.

The soundtrack by Mica Levi is chilling and like the film, otherworldly. The cinematography is Daniel Landin is polished and keeps his frame minimalistic. Under The Skin took almost ten years to finish. The process was lengthy, difficult but intellectually rewarding. It also featured real people on the streets who were shot using hidden cameras and were duly asked whether they permit the footage to be used in the film. Some of them refused to appear and Glazer did not use that. "Under the Skin was a project I took on because I knew I would be interested in it for a long time. The idea of seeing through an alien lens is a fantastic opening. You commit to that, but you don't commit to a method or a vocabulary for a while.
You find that through a rigorous process of research. Once we understood that was the way to do it, we realised it wasn't about setting up a movie set and having actors pretending to be bus drivers or whatever. Once we put her in that world, we need to be undetectable. We need to film from bird hides. We need cameras in a pot of tea. For the scene in a department store, we had a camera in a mop bucket, one in an umbrella and another up a sleeve." Jonathan said while speaking to Irish Times.

Jonathan Glazer said about the movie on Den of Geek: "These spaces had to feel unfamiliar and alarming and alien. Through elimination, actually, over long periods of time, you just begin to strip all those options away, and the thing you become comfortable with is a black screen. In other words, you get rid of all objects, so there's no form, there's no engineering, there's nothing familiar. You're then dealing with a black screen, and that black screen is the alien entity, so you work from that. How an object is reflected in that space, what you see beneath that space."

"We wanted to create something that seems as lost and bewildered as the victim. When you're choosing to tell a story from an alien point of view, you're really creating a rod for your own back, because you're trying to make something feel truly alien. The experience needs to be inscrutable, unfathomable. Something you don't recognise, that you feel but you don't see. We didn't want to make a film where that's explained away somehow. It had to be outside our understanding", Jonathan added.

"The only thing was when I was driving this van around Glasgow looking for my 'victims', I would have Jonathan and the crew in the back of it, filming in this bizarre candid camera situation, and Jonathan would talk to me through an earpiece, giving me instructions. Occasionally he would say, 'this guy looks good, stop and talk to him'. I would be like, 'No, are you kidding me? No I won't because if he gets into the van I think you'll find we have a reverse predatory situation on our hands. Or I'd say, 'are you crazy? That man is drunk!' And I'd keep driving." Said Scarlett Johansson to BBC.

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