Coming from an austere world of pastors, director and Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn today acquired an international reputation. Evolving from music to photography and video clips, he tells Prestige his latest, Miss Dior, shot on the French Riviera with Natalie Portman. Immersion in a different and fascinating universe.
Your Miss Dior film is very successful, very surprising! For me the long version is the most interesting. It is authentic because it mixes levels of reality alternating color and black and white. It is complexe, it also mixes different levels of temporality thanks to the mounting.
Did you enjoy filming on the French Riviera? Did you like the light, the sun? I had the opportunity in my career to go into southern Europe, specifically in Portugal for photo shoots. I already loved the atmosphere and the light there. Light from the south of France is particularly beautiful, rich. I especially remember the beauty of the sunset when we shot the last scene on the cliff with the helicopter. This light was incredible. I like to shoot some shots in bright light, certain things. But, you know, I’d rather shoot my subjects in the shadows … I’m more known for that, filming in dark tones, as I have always done. When I started photography in the 70s, I did the opposite. I took people with a front light, right on their face! But there came a time when I changed, and I opted for the shade, the dark. This gives more grain to the image, and that’s what I like anyway.
For his first commercial film, it was a masterstroke.
And the photo where we see the understudy of Natalie Portman with “Jack Kerouac” tattooed on the shoulder? Yes, this is fine too. The free spirit of the Beat Generation!
Speaking of freedom, is Miss Dior for you a perfect incarnation of a new feminism? like young popstars as Beyonce or Nikki Minaj who claim a new feminism? Yes, it is interesting to see these are women adored by men, in that they project an image that men love and want to see. But yet they say they are feminists. It’s hard to say … For me, this remains the vision of men. What’s great about Janis Joplin for example, is that her vision as a woman prevails. But anyway, it’s a good thing that the «feminist» debate reappears. Few years ago, I did the portrait of strippers in collaboration with South African painter Marlene Dumas. I worked with her on paintings she had done in Amsterdam. I included 4 letter words, which usually suggest something sexual (Fuck etc ..). But I substituted them words in 4 letters I imagined in the mind of these women as Home, Baby, etc …
To conclude on Miss Dior, let’s go back to its creator Christian Dior. He was a kind man, gentle and full of life. This fragrance was inspired to him by his sister Catherine. When Christian Dior said he wanted to make women happy, it was not nothing. «Happiness» was not an empty word for him. I did not know this story. It’s even better that way … Anyway, the word «happiness» is overused. As an exaggerated state of mind … Often this means that people do not want to worry about anything. For me it’s the opposite. Happiness is a state of mind to which I have to direct myself and wish in my heart never really get to destination…