Behind Jim Jarmusch + Travelling at Night with Jim Jarmusch
Director: Léa Rinaldi
Writer: Léa Rinaldi
“Cast”: Jim Jarmusch, Isaach De Bankolé, John Hurt, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 31.10.2015
Both Behind Jim Jarmusch and Travelling at Night with Jim Jarmusch are documentaries about the creative process of director Jim Jarmusch. Rinaldi followed Jarmusch during the shot of The Limits of Control and then again a couple of years later during the work on Only Lovers Left Alive, trying to grasp how Jarmusch gets to work.
Behind Jim Jarmusch was Rinaldi’s first documentary and you can see how much she learned, so that Travelling at Night with Jim Jarmusch becomes the much better film. But both are interesting to see, especially if you like Jim Jarmusch’s films as they give you a look into the creation of something special.
Behind Jim Jarmusch is a bit of a bumpy ride as Rinaldi was obviously still trying to find herself as a director and trying to find an angle on how to work with Jarmusch himself (from what she told us after the film – in yet another Q&A that was an utter fail due to a weird interviewer -, it wasn’t particularly easy for her as she expected something more like an interview format and Jarmusch didn’t really want to talk about what he was doing). This means that the red thread that leads through the film is missing, even though it is still interesting just to see how decisions are made during the shot and what are concerns of Jarmusch, his cameraman and/or the various actors.
Travelling at Night with Jim Jarmusch is a much more assured film. Rinald doesn’t try to interview anyone anymore, she just keeps the camera rolling, capturing in particular how Jarmusch, Hiddleston and Swinton develop their characters, arrange scenes and try and get to the emotional core of the scenes. Even though Travelling at Night has less structure at the first glance, it has a thematic center that keeps things together.
In any case, both documentaries are a fascinating look behind the scenes of two films I utterly love. But even if I hadn’t liked the films, I still would have enjoyed getting a glimpse into how a film is made. My own (meagre) directing experience has given me quite some insight, but learning from experienced people is always intriguing and if you can’t trail a director yourself, seeing documentaries like these two is the next best thing.
It also shows that, while Jarmusch might be a director with a vision who can care about details like which way Mia Wasikowska’s ankles are crossed, filmmaking is a deeply collaborative process. That becomes especially apparent when Swinton, Jarmusch and Hiddleston (who still seem like people I’d like to have a beer with, by the way) discuss their characters. Here we get not only a look at a masterful director at work, but also two excellent actors. I could have watched them for hours longer.