OSCAR-WINNER ROBERT ZEMECKIS TAKES THE HELM FOR “ALLIED”
In a sumptuous, visually evocative production that roams from Casablanca to London’s Blitz days to German-occupied France, Zemeckis creates the kind of grand tale that flourished in Golden Hollywood – full of mystery, thrills and romantic heat – yet told with all the richly immersive power of 21st Century cinema.
For secret World War II operatives Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) and Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard), the key to survival is never being truly known by anyone. They are experts in deception, play-acting, second-guessing and assassination. When they accidentally fall for each other in the middle of an extraordinarily risky mission, their one hope is to leave all the double-dealing behind – but instead, suspicion and danger become the core of their wartime marriage as husband-and-wife are pitted against each other in an escalating, potentially lethal test of loyalty, identity and love…with global consequences.
Zemeckis’s long and varied career has been marked by both visual innovations and cultural influence, with films ranging from the seminal Back To The Future series to the comic special-effects fantasy Death Becomes Her to the historical adventures of Forrest Gump to the recent The Walk, which recreated the extraordinary tightrope journey between New York’s former World Trade Center towers. But Zemeckis has equally been associated with films that are about the raw power of storytelling as in Cast Away, the story of one shipwrecked man reckoning with his life, or Flight, which excavated a heroic pilot’s inner battle with alcoholism.
And yet, for all the wide span of stories Zemeckis has explored, he’d yet to tackle the genre of the period romance. Nor had he brought his visual style to the evocative landscapes of WWII -- and both called to him as a filmmaker. He was drawn to Allied at once as an absorbing mystery, a web of deception, a fresh look at survival in WWII and a love story of unusual depth and power that becomes about lasting honor. Above all, he saw a film full of visual potential that could match the story’s themes.
Says Zemeckis: “The screenplay had a sweeping, epic, romantic feel. The thing I most love to do as a director is to move audiences -- and when you have a story as powerful as this one, and with so many emotional twists and turns, you have immense opportunities to do that. This type of story is perfect for a filmmaker like myself because I like to make audiences really feel and use all the tools as my disposal to do that.”
Zemeckis saw the story as one that asks questions we all ask of loved ones – Do I really know you? Can I trust you completely? Will you betray me? How far would you go to save what we have? -- but these same questions take on a deadly, mounting ferocity within the high-wire world of WWII spies.
“Allied is absolutely a story of betrayal and that’s the universal theme of this film: how we react when we start to think someone we love isn’t who they say they are,” Zemeckis comments. “It’s something that happens in life, but in the realm of Max and Marianne, you have two people already pretending to be someone else from the get-go and the truth is elusive to them. So how do you establish trust? And how can you even talk to your loved one if you believe the enemy is listening in on you?”
“I especially loved how the screenplay really evoked the feeling of war-torn London,” Zemeckis says. “London was being bombed nightly but despite that, the people carried on with the life of the city. That was even their slogan: carry on. So that was something I wanted to capture in this: a world where the machinery of war is always there in the background – and sometimes in the foreground – yet people are living with a kind of total abandon because they realize that life could end at any moment. There was a kind of fatalistic quality both to the way people behaved and the way that London looked in that time. That really interested me – and that’s what I wanted to created both in the atmosphere of the film and its design. It’s a world where people are trying to defy death at every turn, including Max and Marianne, whose love develops in danger and cannot escape it even when they marry.”
Opening across the Philippines on Nov. 23rd, Allied is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures. (PR)