Sundance 2011 Interview: PERFECT SENSE director David Mackenzie

Allison Loring

by: Allison Loring
January 31st, 2011

During the Sundance Film Festival this past week, I was lucky enough to attend the premiere screening of PERFECT SENSE, which explores the idea of what would happen if everyone in the world began losing their five senses, one at a time. As seen through the eyes of Michael (Ewan McGregor) and Susan (Eva Green), we watch them fall in love as the world falls apart.

After seeing the film, I had the opportunity to grab a few minutes and sit down with the film’s director, David Mackenzie (SPREAD), to get some further insight on how the project came to be, the themes of the story and (of course) the music.

Interview after the break!

I saw the film last night and was really interested in seeing how you were going to take on such subject matter about losing one’s senses and then depicting that on film. How did you find this project or how did it come to you?

DM: The script came through a Danish film company that we have a relationship with and was written by Danish writer Kim Fupz Aakeson – a terrific writer. My producer gave it to me. I had just spent a year working in the states and had just come back to Scotland and she gave it me within a week of me coming back and then I read it and I just completely fell in love with it. I thought it was a fantastic reach; a human story with fantastic cinematical opportunities and it was kind of special, original.

You had mentioned last night after the screening that the composer for the film (Max Richter) is a friend of yours. Did you bring him onto the project or was it something he had heard about and wanted to work on?

DM: I had been wanting to work with Max a number of times and I knew his music before I knew his film music and I knew it had a very emotional element to it and as soon as I read the script it was one of the first decisions I made to bring Max in.

Did it end up being a collaboration between you two?

DM: Very much so. What was interesting about it was that when we were editing the movie to begin with we weren’t using Max’s music, but other music as temp score. He (Richter) lives in Berlin so we went to Berlin a few times and talked about the temp score and how not to fall in love too much because the problem with temp score is you cut the film to the temp score and then you fall in love with it – there’s that phrase, “temp love” – so we always had to keep that in mind. And then the real music comes and I went to the recording session in this amazing studio in Berlin with these wonderful musicians and then you get the goose bumps.

The film seemed to suggest along the way that people would just adapt as they lost different senses and was left a bit open ended before we lost the final sense. In your opinion, do you think once all the senses were gone people would just continue to adapt or question the point of going on?

DM: It’s very hard to – you know I think the film ends where it ends for good reason and I haven’t sort of curtailed it or anything like that. That’s where it ends in the script and much as I can think about those questions I don’t know the answers to them, you know?  And I think that it’s sort of trying to sort of say that this love is almost strong enough to grow in some kind of way, but in some ways it can’t and it has to be left in some way just open ended.

What do you think would be the scariest sense to lose?

DM: It is very, very hard to say, but I’m sure not being able to see is initially scary. A lot of people say that they’re most frightened of losing their hearing and I suppose the low hanging fruit is the smell and taste, but it’s hard to tell.

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