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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Nine and 1/2


Rob Marshall's Nine (2009) appears to be one of those movies that people walk away from either loving or hating. When I saw it in Palm Springs with Rob Marhsall on panel, I took the opportunity to pose him some of my curious questions regarding his follow up to one of my favorite films ever, Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 (1963).

When Rob entered the room he stood back and regarded the panel chairs in the right corner of the room and shook his head, dissatisfied. He picked up his chair and moved it to the middle of the room (right in front of where I was) and said: '..Because I'm a director!' So, there it was! He preferred to look his interviewers straight on.


ME: Mr. Marshall, can you tell us how difficult a feat it was to follow in Fellini's footsteps on a remake to his film 8 1/2


ROB: Well, Nine isn't a remake. I don't believe in remakes because every artist has a different vision.


ME: Fair enough. Can you tell us what kind of a director you are? I mean, Fellini was considered a brutal dictator perfectionist on set who most times wouldnt even let his actors act.


ROB: I wasn't like Fellini. He used to order his actors. I serve my actors. When I was making my first film, I was told by someone that I was in charge of everything, that the cast was there to serve me. But I said, 'no, I am here to serve them'. 


Another question posed to Mr. Marshall was how he got into directing and what advice he had for all future film directors.

Rob explained that even though he was always playing with a camera as a child, he never dreamed of becoming a film director. In fact, he began with theater and thought he would always remain in theater. One day he got a request from Miramax to make the play Rent into a film and he, not loving Rent, suggested he direct Chicago into a film instead. And, well, the rest is history...


ROB: What I can say to all future directors is: be ready when your time comes.  :-)


And at the end of the panel, Rob was rushed out of the room with a team of black suits and after posing for a photo op in the theater reception area, he was packed into a big black limo and driven off. 


While there seems to be a lot of mixed feelings about his film adaptation of the play Nine, a follow-up to Fellini's 8 1/2, I can say that for me I like it. Of course nothing can touch 8 1/2 but as a film on its own, Nine indeed proves another artistic vision come to life. For me, there are three most memorable moments from Nine:

1)  The wise words from Guido Contini:'You kill your film several times mostly by talking about it. Film is a dream. You kill it by writing it down, you kill it with a camera. Film might come to life for a moment or two when your actors breathe life into it but then it dies again within the film can. Mysteriously, sometimes in the editing room a miracle happens when you place one image next to another so that the audience sees it in the dark and if you are lucky, very lucky, and sometimes I have been lucky, the dream flickers back to life again. That's why it's secret...'


2) Fergie's song Be Italian:


3) The end scene when Guido the lost and confused man resolves to take his child self at his side on the director's chair, deciding to finally accept his inner child with the aging man.


Written by Vanessa McMahon on January 20, 2010

watch out for Marshall's next endeavor, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)


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