The director of the upcoming movie of the book of the undeveloped idea of an erotic novel, Fifty Shades of Grey, has been revealed as art-house darling Steve McQueen.
McQueen, an experimental artist and winner of the prestigious Turner prize, has stated that he intends to film Fifty Shades in a single 189-minute take.
McQueen is best known for directing the 2008 film Hunger, about the 1981 Irish hunger strike. Based on the harrowing, gruelling, and painful true story of hunger striker Bobby Sands, who died at age 27 after refusing food for 66 days while imprisoned by the British. Hunger won rave reviews. Critics praised McQueen’s ponderous, experimental style, picking out an unbroken 17-minute shot as particularly exceptional filmmaking. In it, the camera remains in the same position for the duration of the shot while a priest tries unsuccessfully to talk Bobby Sands out of his suicidal protest.
The director told The Twice-a-Weekly that he accepted the helm of Fifty Shades because he wants to continue pushing the boundaries of filmmaking and express himself to his fullest with his single-take version of Fifty Shades of Grey.
“I’d been building up to this for quite a while,” said McQueen, “perfecting my technique, spending hours framing and reframing shots to best capture subtle fluctuations of natural light. I felt I had really found the intersection between organic human expression and digital sequential image capture, but I was waiting for the right moment. I knew, maybe I was cocky, maybe foolish, but I knew my moment – my art and my medium’s moment – was coming, but I had to stay alert, stay in touch, be ready to grasp it. So when Michael Bay called me up and offered me $250 million to film E.L. James’s book, well, I knew – is that arrogant? – well, yeah I knew I was ready.”
Answering critics who say he isn’t ready to film so much sex, McQueen reminded them that in his first motion picture, the art-house release Bear (1993), two naked men (one of them McQueen) exchange a series of barely-perceptible glances which might, or might not, be taken to be flirtatious or threatening. “So I think I’m ready for Fifty Shades,” McQueen stated confidently.
Fifty Shades of Grey tells the story of Anastasia “Ana” Steele, a 22-year-old college senior who lives with her best friend Katherine Kavanagh, who writes for their college’s student paper. Due to illness, Katherine persuades Ana to take her place and interview 27-year-old Christian Grey, an incredibly successful and wealthy young entrepreneur. Ana is instantly attracted to Grey, but also finds him intimidating. McQueen was instantly drawn to the subtle expository dance of protagonist and lover.
“As a filmmaker, you really want to begin with well-developed, complex characters, and in Ana and Christian I think we have this century’s Anna Karenina and Count Vronsky, or maybe, well, yes, [Ana and Christian’s] relationship has that danger, that overwhelming and existential danger lurking in the perpetual, imperceptible distance behind Tolstoy’s characters, but coupled with the raw and timeless passion – fervent egomania – of a Catherine Earnshaw and a Heathcliff. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say E.L. James has created the Adam and Eve of our generation.”
McQueen is as enthused by the narrative as the characters, but his artistic perfectionism is causing logistical problems for his crew.
“Well, first let me say that this story deserves to be told in great detail. This is a story in which the movement of the curtains and the colour of the carpet is as important as the movement and colour of the plot and characters. It is a textured piece, and I wanted – I want – to bring its undulating surfaces and harmonic voice to life, to do the work justice. And as I said, lighting and mood – temperature, if you will – that’s me. That’s my forte, my religion. I can do that. I am doing that, doing this. But as an artist, as a creator…my logistical, and I mean this in the rudimentary, mathematical sense, but my logistical skills have not been tested. So yes, I want to film this in one take – life is one take, I am one take, a take is one take – but we are having trouble coordinating the, ah, the…apexes of Ana and Christian’s love. The sex scenes, as you may wish to describe them.”
It appears that fitting some ten extended scenes of BDSM sex into the same 189 minutes, and at the same time squeezing in several pivotal coffee-house and dorm-room chats, is a difficult task, but McQueen insists he will not give up.
“I’ve had the math guys on it and it does seem like it will be possible if we find the right guy. He’ll have to be…strong. I just refuse to compromise on this. People will thank me.”
Auditions for the role of Christian Grey begin next week, and McQueen has told hopefuls to expect a “very raw [experience]. Be ready to sweat. Bring vaseline.”
Euan EK is not a thing in the way that you normally understand things. You cannot vanquish it.