En­gland is mine: the birth of an ar­tist

Rêves de rock à Man­ches­ter.

Vocable (Anglais) - - Édito | Sommaire - EMI­LIE COCHAUD MARK GILL Réa­li­sa­teur

Au cinéma le 7 février, En­gland is mine ra­conte la jeu­nesse du chan­teur Mor­ris­sey, avant la gloire de son groupe de rock lé­gen­daire, les Smiths. Le réa­li­sa­teur nous parle de ce film sen­sible et très per­son­nel, qui nous plonge dans le Man­ches­ter des an­nées 1970.

Vocable: The film is about Mor­ris­sey be­fore his suc­cess with The Smiths. Why did you fo­cus on that par­ti­cu­lar mo­ment? Mark Gill: I think that per­iod of his life was just more in­ter­es­ting: trying to find your way in the world when you don’t feel like you be­long so­mew­here: that’s a universal sto­ry. How do you cope with those things? Mor­ris­sey found a way to try and fun­nel all that lo­ne­li­ness and iso­la­tion and de­pres­sion in­to his mu­sic. I grew up not far from where Mor­ris­sey li­ved in Man­ches­ter, so I knew

the area, and just be­cause I’d been a young man my­self, who had a dream to do so­me­thing with his life, I felt it was a sto­ry that I could tell.

2. Vocable: What’s your re­la­tion­ship, your connec­tion with The Smiths? Mark: I dis­co­ve­red The Smiths when I was a tee­na­ger. For ma­ny people around the world, their mu­sic spoke to you, about your life, in a way that other mu­sic wasn't doing. It’s im­por­tant for young people to dis­co­ver so­me­thing that shows them that they’re not quite alone. When you’re young, eve­ry­thing feels like it’s on­ly you, but all of a sud­den you hear this voice that’s ar­ti­cu­la­ting the same fee­lings brilliant­ly, and you get that sense of com­mu­ni­ty. At that per­iod, Man­ches­ter was a real­ly de­pres­sing place, and yet here’s this band ma­king mu­sic, which ce­le­brates that or­di­na­ri­ness. As a re­sult of that, Man­ches­ter sud­den­ly got a lot of mo­ney in­ves­ted, and the ci­ty chan­ged. I wouldn’t say al­ways for the bet­ter, be­cause I think it’s lost some of that crea­tive ener­gy; it’s be­come ve­ry much like eve­ryw­here else: ve­ry gen­tri­fied and it’s lost some of that at­ti­tude that it had. But then again, times are dif­ferent now. Back then, there was no real art scene, no film in­dus­try or TV in­dus­try like there was in Lon­don. Whe­reas now, Man­ches­ter is a huge TV media ci­ty place and ve­ry much a di­gi­tal ci­ty. The ar­chi­tec­ture has chan­ged and it’s more cos­mo­po­li­tan than it used to be.

4. Vocable: Is En­gland is Mine a tri­bute? A love let­ter to The Smiths? Mark: I did say at one point it was a love let­ter to Man­ches­ter and Mor­ris­sey, and in a sense, maybe that is still true. It cer­tain­ly wasn't a tri­bute. If you wan­ted to do a tri­bute, you’d make a film about The Smiths. I think it’s ve­ry hard to try and capture the ma­gic of

crea­tion on screen. Whe­reas the birth of an ar­tist, that struggle to be­come so­me­thing in the world, is much more in­ter­es­ting.

5. Vocable: It’s the wo­men around him who seem to give him strength… Mark: That was real­ly im­por­tant to write wo­men that aren’t just props; they ac­tual­ly have their own opi­nions and lives and am­bi­tions. His mo­ther is ve­ry, ve­ry per­cep­tive, a ve­ry strong Irish wo­man, from a ve­ry big ma­triar­chal fa­mi­ly. If you’re a young man and you’re strug­gling, then you do turn to wo­men, es­pe­cial­ly in Man­ches­ter in that per­iod; you wouldn’t have tur­ned to your male friends for fear of ri­di­cule… That’s the great thing that Mor­ris­sey and The Smiths did: they al­lo­wed men, par­ti­cu­lar­ly people like me who grew up in a ve­ry wor­king class area, to ac­cess their fe­mi­nine side; it was ok to read poe­try; it was ok to read Os­car Wilde. Sud­den­ly you thought: ‘I don’t have to be an al­pha male 24 hours a day be­cause it’s real­ly ti­ring.’ 6. Vocable: What ma­te­rial did you use for the film? Mark: We did a lot of re­search, rea­ding all the old in­ter­views that he did. It pain­ted a pic­ture ve­ry qui­ck­ly for us, and then al­so the mu­sic, the ly­rics are real­ly good. They’re a real­ly good portal to his head­space. And ob­vious­ly, I tal­ked to people who knew him. We be­came a ve­ry good friend of Billy, in the film Billy Duf­fy, he hel­ped us; he was a consul­tant on the film.

7. Vocable: How did you choose Jack Low­den, who plays Mor­ris­sey in the film? What’s his back­ground? Mark: He’s from the Scot­tish Bor­ders and he hadn’t done a great deal when we cast him. He just real­ly stood out, not on­ly as an ac­tor, but as a per­son, as a hu­man being. I cast him in 2015 and we shot the film a year la­ter. Du­ring the fil­ming, he went and au­di­tio­ned for Dun­kirk at some point; he was a great dis­co­ve­ry real­ly.

8. Vocable: There’s a lot of mu­sic in the film: The New York Dolls, clas­si­cal mu­sic, etc… but none of The Smiths? Why? Mark: Ob­vious­ly, The Smiths mu­sic didn’t exist at that time, so it would have felt clum­sy to try and in­clude it. I was more in­ter­es­ted in the mu­sic which hel­ped shape him and would shape The Smiths. I wor­ked quite hard to choose pieces of mu­sic which nar­ra­ti­ve­ly felt right. It has more to do with the things that in­fluen­ced him as a young per­son, like any of us, you know… If I was ma­king a film about my life - God for­bid - there would be Smiths songs in my life, for example! 9. Vocable: Are you a mu­si­cian your­self? Emi­lie: Yes, that was my first ca­reer. I did all the things like TV and fes­ti­vals and tours and made re­cords; it was a good time but I just wan­ted to do so­me­thing else. But it comes in han­dy when you need a piece of mu­sic and ra­ther than try and ex­plain it to so­me­bo­dy, you can just go and do it. So the bit at the end of the film, that gui­tar piece, those are ac­tual­ly my hands playing the mu­sic. It’s a di­rec­tor’s ca­meo. 10. Vocable: What would you say to the youn­ger ge­ne­ra­tions - who may not know Mor­ris­sey and The Smiths - to make them want to see the film? Mark: It’s a film about am­bi­tion; about trying to make so­me­thing out of your life when you don’t feel like you be­long so­mew­here. And I think eve­ry­bo­dy’s felt like that at some point. And the film has got a ve­ry Bri­tish sense of hu­mour: it’s a ve­ry beau­ti­ful and ten­der and ve­ry quiet film, which shows what it can be like to struggle as a tee­nage per­son and try and find your way in the world. If you go in ex­pec­ting a film about The Smiths, you’re going to be di­sap­poin­ted. If you go in wan­ting to watch a film about the birth of an ar­tist and men­tal health, it has a lot to say.

'It’s a film about am­bi­tion; about trying to make so­me­thing out of your life'

((Bo­de­ga Films)

Jack Low­den (Mor­ris­sey) with Jes­si­ca Brown Find­lay.

(Bo­de­ga Films)

Jack Low­den, left, as Mor­ris­sey and Lau­rie Ky­nas­ton as fu­ture Smiths gui­ta­rist John­ny Marr in En­gland is Mine

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