LORD OF ILLUSIONS
Lost Souls: Out of all your writing, how did you come about to adapting "The Last Illusion" as a feature film?
Clive Barker: I was looking to do a D'Amour movie, and "The Last Illusion" seemed the most manageable of the fiction that dealt with D'Amour. It would be way beyond what would be plausible in cinema to really try and turn "Great And Secret Show" " into film. I just think that you would have to compromise the material horribly, my approach was that I wanted to do something about D'Amour, he is an interesting character, so why not just go for the story which seems manageable.
Lost Souls: Do you feel that you had more control with this film than you had with "Nightbreed"?
Clive Barker: Absolutely.Orders of magnitude more controlled. There were some minor disagreements between myself and the studio, but they were very minor. The movie that you see on the screen, for better or worse, is the movie that I wanted to make. By the way did you see the review in Fangoria?
Lost Souls: Yes, of course.
Clive Barker: It was really nice. She really responds to the fact that the movie makes references to a lot of other movies. She's right. She points out the places of reference neatly .That's part of the fun of the movie I think.
Lost Souls: What are some of the references?
Clive Barker: Maybe it's best that you look at the film. I don't want to spoil your viewing of the picture. If I go into it in too much detail I am afraid that I will take the edge off the fun of seeing It. But It is certainly a picture where I try to make reference to a lot of film noire traditions and a lot of horror movie traditions as well.I tried to mingle the two.
Lost Souls: Anything specific?
Clive Barker: The obvious thing, and it's something that's in the books as well, that Harry is from that classic mold of a troubled detective. A guy that is not very happy with his life, with his personal life, or with anything. He wants to live a more normal life but he cannot. Obviously in a Chandler book or Hammet book this would be what sort of Marlowe or Sam Spade would be drawn to, would be a much more secular and not supernatural darkness. Harry is drawn to something much more out of the ordinary, but the process is still the same. These are men that are trying to live relatively normal lives but just cannot.
Lost Souls: Would you ever consider old characters, such as Cha' Chat or Father Hess, for sequels?
Clive Barker: Not inconceivable. I think it would be very cool to do that at some point. Again, I don't want to kind of curse the notion of the sequel. Let's move actively where the picture is going well and then lets see. Three months from now, we might want to have this conversation again, when we can see how the movie has done. It cost so little it doesn't have to do a lot of business to get into profit, but it still does have to do business. So we have to see if it works or not.
Lost Souls: How about the character Tesla Bombeck?
Clive Barker: If I were to take any story out of "Everville" or "Great And Secret Show" and follow it through in movie form, I would say that it would be Tesla's story. The fact is that you can't tell that breadth of a story in a movie. You might want to take one strand of it, and if you had any strand of it I think it would be Tesla's story. I think Tesla is a really interesting character. Having said that, my immediate follow up is I still think that it is pretty unlikely just because it is ,very ,very difficult to turn a book of that scale, books of that scale, and remember we haven't finished telling that story yet, into the space of a regular movie, you certainly don't want to do a t.v. series because what we are seeing in the mini-series problem, and "Weaveworld" is slightly easier because it's a single book, but you couldn't turn three books the length of "Great And Secret Show" into a mini-series.
Lost Souls: Given that this is the largest scale movie that you've made, how much bigger would you like to go?
Clive Barker: Oh, I'm always willing to spend someone else's money. I'm up for it. When you actually see the amounts of money that I've put on the screen these days, and my imagination is able to conceive of some very large things. I would love to be able to get some of the funds that are available to the film-makers who make the big action movies. I have great ambitions where that is concerned, but obviously there's a trade off and that's the problem. Making a movie that costs a lot, your going to have a lot of people looking over your shoulders saying "Oh, I don't think I want you to do that". So that's the trade off you need to look at. I'm very interested, passionately interested ,in making a science fiction movie, making an epic for the screen. I very much want to do that!
Lost Souls: We really enjoyed the film.
Clive Barker: That's great to hear, I certainly feel that this is closer to the experience of reading a Clive Barker book than anything that has been made before. A couple of people have said that it's the most successful adaption so far, and I feel that's essentially true. One of the changes that you have to make is that it's a thirty page short story going to be turned into an almost two hour movie, there has got to be expansion. So the things that you can't use because of special effects, now you find that you can expand that character and situations. I'll give you an example, a clear example. Swann is killed and the book is about Harry watching over the body, I wanted to kill Swann in front of a full audience of people. I wanted to have the body shown in front of all these people and that was going to be a big deal, just because he died and also in terms of the way it would strike an audience wathing it. It became very important that this become a high point in the rhythm of the story. One of the things that happens for horror movie audiences, the story has a rhythm based upon thrill and scares. So what you can do is structure things, like this huge set I built that was going to be Swann's death. One of the things that drives the changes that you have in movies, you tell the stories with a different rhythm, to the way that you would tell them if you were writing. One of the things that writing allows you to do is to get inside people's skulls and get inside characters to tell what their feeling from the inside out . Movies work from the outside in, and so you are dealing primarily with the way that people appear, with their superficies. You have to structure the story a different way that way, because you can't have one period of introspectual characters talking about their thoughts. You can do that in Scandinavian movies, or anything sub titled, but you can't do that with a popular movie that is designed to be played to a broad audience.