Alice Rohrwacher: “Happy As Lazzaro, my sweet and modern fable of innocence”

The movie, the innocence and the evolution of italian cinema: Alice Rohrwacher returns to Cannes

Alice Rohrwacher on the red carpet at Cannes71.
Alice Rohrwacher on the red carpet at Cannes71.

Alice Rohrwacher returns to Cannes after her highly-acclaimed The Wonders. As one of just three women in competition, and Eva Husson’s lacklustre Girls of the Sun, critics were hopeful that Rohrwacher would not disappoint with her new offering, Happy As Lazzaro. The Lazzaro in question is a young peasant who is so kind and good that he is often considered simple. The film veers between past and present, and the rustic and the urban, and is very much a contemporary fable. It is a fable that has seen packed screenings and positive reviews, and there is a good chance that the Italian director will be heading home with a prize. Many of the questions were aimed at Rohrwacher and particular focus was on the lead character, the relationship between the worlds of reality and fairytale, and on the need to be kind.

Adriano Tardiolo in Happy as Lazzaro.

CANNES 71 “It goes without saying it’s an enormous honour to have the confidence placed in me renewed a second time around. I don’t think the films were selected because the director was a man or a woman, but for what they depict. I am very moved to be here.”

LAZZARO “The story and the context came first, we wanted to talk about the end of a world, of the feudal world. We wanted to depict the shift from social and historical medieval time to a different time a post-apocalyptic era. This was enriched, enlightened by the arrival of Lazzaro, a character who gains increasing importance as the story goes by.”

Tardiolo with Alba Rohrwacher in another scene.

THE IDEA “The idea was to depict a way of being. You have the physical character of Lazzaro, the way he views the world. The possibility of kindness lies at the heart of the film, it’s cyclically disappears and comes back. In this sense the way Lazzaro looks at things, the way he is, is timeless, he goes through time and beyond time, he comes back to question us as though we had to make a choice as well in terms of kindness.”

THE CHARACTER “I wanted to define the character of Lazzaro as a way of being. Lazzaro is a peasant, a man, a person who can be sad or happy, but what makes him happy is to see other people happy. There are ups and downs for him but he has the ability to be happy when he sees others happy and this is quite miraculous.”

Another scene from Happy as Lazzaro.

ITALIAN CINEMA “I have these films in my blood, in my imagination and dreams. They are such great beings. I should mention the Taviani brothers and Ermanno Olmi, who passed away so recently. I think this cinema that I like fills my mind. They are not conscious memories. It’s subconscious and then these memories well up from time to time and I discover things about these memories while working at the same time. It’s a huge honour that you referred to these great masters.”

  • Happy as Lazzaro red carpet in Cannes:

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