Paste: They invented
light. The young actors were remarkable. That unsentimental quality
was refreshing. In so much American media, kids of a certain age only
get played two ways: for their presumed innocence, or as precocious
sex objects. We sentimentalize childhood only to commodify it. Your
approach, not milking it, means that in the end the viewer gets hit
hard emotionally, but in a very sweet way. Where did you find those
Alfredson: Open castings
throughout Sweden. It took nearly a year to find them. This story is
very unsexualized. There is no sex in the film. It is very soothing
not to have the sexual part of being a teenager. This is pure
innocent young love. And that thing is also a big conflict for the
vampire, because the vampire has stopped growing before he or she has
become mature. That’s an important thing for Eli, the vampire, to
maintain that innocent love. So she asks Oskar, or he asks him -
because not everyone has noticed that Eli is a boy, a castrated boy.
I don’t know if you made that conclusion but it’s suggested a
couple of times in the film.
Paste: There is an
ambiguity, but I didn’t quite put it all together.
Alfredson: It’s just
suggested. There is a very short image of his genitals, or her
genitals, that you could interpret was a castrated boy.
Paste: What were you
looking for in the actors?
Alfredson: They should be
mirrors for each other. And they had a strange kind of maturity. They
are like two very old people. They were just 12 when we shot. Lina is
like an old lady for me, like 80 years old. She could look through
you. She is a reincarnation of somebody. And when we shot it I didn’t
want them to read the story so each and every day they got new papers
from the script… I read it aloud for them, so they didn’t have
this reading style of actor. After awhile they started trying to make
me say what it was all about. They put the screen together in their
heads during the shooting process. They’re really, really
intelligent people, those two.
Paste: Have they
Alfredson: No. I want them not
to be showbiz kids,. We’ve kept them out from the media. They have
made not a single interview so far.
Paste: What do you think
about the American remake that has been announced?
Alfredson: It’s heartbreaking
when you have worked on something for several years and put a lot of
love into it and have someone else use the same material. At the same
time, they make Hamlet all the time. But I cannot say that
this is mine. They have the book and they are going to do a
re-adaptation from the book, and not remaking they film. Maybe these
feelings disappear after awhile. Maybe this guy is very talented and
has unique ideas?
Paste: He shot
Cloverfield, which was a dud. YouTube horror. But that’s my
knee-jerk reaction. Were you also disappointed not to have the film
put forward as Sweden’s entry for the foreign film Oscar?
Alfredson: We have had such big
international success with this film, I think maybe we could have had
a greater chance if they had the courage to choose us.
Paste: Were people
surprised you directed this? You’re better known for comedy.
Alfredson: I suppose so, but at
the same time I have for a Swede a slow style…
Paste: Congratulations on
your Méliès d'Or award for best European fantastic
film. How many prizes has the film won?
Alfredson: For this film, it’s
like 15 or something.
Paste: Maybe you don’t
need an Oscar!