An excerpt from the booklet director interview by Neil Young.
When did you first become aware of Amadeo and why did you decide to make him the focus of your first fictional feature as director?
The spirit of man feeds on mystery! Years ago, my grandmother gave me a silver coin bearing his effigy. At a certain point, much later, this coin was somehow ‘sending signals’ to me from my desk. I started to investigate. I remembered that Amadeo was dealt with in just two lines in school books. Even in Turin they didn’t know much about him. My curiosity was piqued. Curiosity is what keeps us alive! Maybe Amadeo should been seen as an alter ego of myself, with my company [Eddie Saeta] collapsing at the same moment I was making the film. But this aspect didn’t necessarily affect the results.
To what extent can the Spain of the period shown during the film be compared with the Spain of the present day - in the aftermath of King Juan Carlos's abdication?
This is a Republican film with monarchical aesthetics. You know, in Spain we have had an oscillation: long periods of obscurantism and short periods of enlightenment. It is a centripetal country with a tendency to dispersion and dissolution. In our history, big subjects have never been 100% focused: the form of the State (monarchy, republic, confederation...); the territorial problem (now Catalonia); the role of the Catholic Church; the reconciliation with the past. I don’t believe in any rigidity nor in rigid scripts. At the beginning, I was not pretending to update anything or make a political film. But the film was shot in 2013 and life was ‘polluting’ it.
Why the title ‘Stella Cadente’ (‘Falling Star')?
My intention was not make a biopic of Amadeo de Saboya, nor a traditional period film but, to identify the monarch (and monarchy) as the decline of a charismatic rock star. I rejected the idea of using Amadeo’s name as a title. The film is full of meta-language: Amadeo being Italian, I decided to pay homage to the Italian movies of the 1970s and divide the film in two parts with an Intermezzo. This is all part of the 'game'. The first half of the film highlights the King’s programme. The second half, it can’t be taken too seriously. It’s a mischief; a trompe l’oeil.
Could Amadeo's ‘star’ have ‘risen’? Was there any way that his reign could have been a success?
When General Prim pushed to convince the Spanish Parliament in favour of Amadeo, his idea was to modernise the country. Amadeo was someone coming from abroad, with a civilising mission. Both General Prim and Amadeo were Freemasons, they had that in common; this is a fact. But the day Amadeo reached Spain, General Prim was murdered and the dream was gone. A dark historical period was inaugurated. Later, something similar happened to the First Republic. It's hard to succeed in the face of certain kinds of atavisms. The film could also be interpreted as a process of personal isolation: Amadeo in Wonderland. And also as a love story, a pop-art artefact, or a Russian-style Matryoshka doll.
Neil Young's complete essay, from which this excerpt is taken, appears in the booklet which accompanies the DVD release.
A short excerpt from the booklet
The Geek Show
by Graham Williamson
by Nathaniel Thompson
DVD Beaver by Eric Cotenas
by Barry Didcock
CineVue by Patrick Gamble
Little White Lies
by David Jenkins
Starburst by Ian White
The Arts Desk by Nick Hasted
(i) Interview with Lluís Miñarro by Fran Ayuso Ross
(ii) 'Familystrip' - by Teresa Vilarós
(iii) An Interview with Cinematographer Jimmy Gimferrer
(iv) On King Amadeo I of Spain
(v) Eddie Saeta