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netribution > features > interview with marleen gorris > page one
‘I’m interviewing Marleen Gorris this afternoon’, I told a fellow hack at the Edinburgh delegate centre, ‘what should I ask her?’. ‘Ask her if she hates men’ he retorted, as if Gorris’ feminist credentials makes her some sort of dungarees wearing, tobacco chomping shaven haired militant man castrator. Needless to say she isn't, and her latest film, The Luzhin Defence is her first with a male protagonist - and a self obsessed one portrayed through a sympathetic lens, at that.
Best known for her Academy Award winning film Antonia's Line, Marleen Gorris most recently directed Mrs Dalloway with Vanessa Redgrave and Rupert Graves. She studied English at the University of Gronigen and Drama at the Universities of Amsterdam and Birmingham, graduating in 1976. Gorris made her directorial debut with A Qustion of Silence which won the best feature award at the Utrecht Film Festival. Her second feature, the harrowing feminist tale Broken Mirrors, won best feature at San Francicsco International Film Festival. Gorris has also directed The Last Island, released in 1990, and a series of five half hour films -Tales from a Street - for Dutch television in 1992.A truely charming woman, Marleen is about as abrasive as silk stockings (forgive me, PC reader).

| by nic wistreich |
| photos by nic wistreich |
| in edinburgh |
When was the Luzhin Defence first shown?
There was a viewing for distributors at Cannes but this morning was the first time for press and tonight will be the first time for an audience.

Are you nervous?
Yeah, I would almost like to stay on just for the first viewing with an audience and I find it incredibly difficult to stay put so yes, a bit nervous. But we’ve had a nice review in The Scotsman which is nice to begin with.

This is your first feature with a male protagonist, are you mellowing as a feminist?
(laughs) Is that an immediate conclusion?

(laughs) I don’t know, I suppose I may very well be mellowing, age seems to do that to people but I found it to be a very lovely script. What I liked in his character was the juxtaposition of his two worlds. On the one hand he is very cerebral and on the other hand he is very shy and doesn’t know anything about anything and to try to reconcile those two worlds was what I found interesting in this script.

There seems to be the issue of choice. He has to choose between his career and his heart which often appears in feminist stories as a woman choosing between career and family. Was that part of you interest?
I’m not quite sure whether he has a choice to tell you the truth. He’s quite willing to do without chess but he doesn’t seem to be able to so in that sense he would like to make a choice but he can’t and I think that that is his tragedy. And because he can’t he takes a way out which isn’t really a choice.

Without the villain he probably could have done both, did you hope that he could have done?
I’m not sure he could have. The villain is there of course but there may well be something in his make up that doesn’t allow him to enjoy the best of both worlds or to be able to make them work together, that may very well be something that genius, in whatever form it takes, will not allow. I’m not really that well acquainted with genius, but I imagine that really brilliant people, whatever they do, are not very easy to live with.

He seemed a victim of his own success - the more he had, the more he wanted, and yet the more it destroyed him. Its quite a classic paradigm.
Yes I suppose so but there is a difference between a chess player and someone who is a magnificent say football player you know? The one is very physical like Maradona who I find a very tragic figure and I think vanity played a large part in his downfall, and it was his weakness rather than his strength that contributed to it. A chess player wants to get better and better, I’m not quite sure of the amount he goes but I don’t think its that he always wants more its that he can cope with less and less.

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