PARADISE LOST : Interview with Andrea Di Stefano and Dimitri Rassam

Last October 27, we met Andrea Di Stefano, director of Paradise Lost, as well as the film’s producer, Dimitri Rassam.

Why this story ?

Andrea Di Stefano : It is a police officer in italy who told me this story for the first time. I had a desire to get into the head of this evil man. A point of view narrative, his criminal psychology is impressive. Regarding the script, I found it interesting to make an early theatrical and not necessarily chronological. The beginning and the end are connected, I wanted that the loop is closed. This film is about destiny and belief. In Rome, I saw the rogue to pray and then commit a crime, it fascinated me. So, I wanted to express this idea of democracy, where everyone can have access to God, even Pablo Escobar.

Dimitri Rassam : We were interested in the human side of this sort of demi-god that was Pablo Escobar. We can also draw a parallel to the Godfather. There is a real film to follow with this necessary entry point to see evolve a character negative.

How have you worked this character is horrible but terribly endearing ? The role was tailor-made for Benicio Del Toro or was it chosen after the writing of the script ? How Josh Hutcherson has come to join the project ?

Andrea Di Stefano : In all of my readings, I could see that it was a good family man and someone who is very generous with its numerous constructions of housing for the less fortunate in particular. I wanted to tell the two sides of the coin, I have studied everything. I worked especially hard on the eyes of Pablo Escobar, and I’m writing my screenplay with his face to the spirit. While watching a video, I could see the moment when he had decided to kill a referee corrupted by a simple look. In effect, the arbitrator had won the team opposing that of Escobar. Benicio Del Toro is inhabited, he created a vertigo, that few actors manage to do that.We met Josh [Hutcherson] in the past on the board ofHunger Games when he was only 17 years old, but it was already a real young man. Moreover, at 9 years old, he was already called for agencies to become an actor. What we choose, is its simplicity.

Dimitri Rassam : Benicio Del Toro is not forced too much to take thirty pounds [laughter]. As for Josh Hutcherson, he exuded so much innocence in his first lectures, that one understood that it was him.

Andrea Di Stefano © AFP

The music is melancholy, which is unusual for this kind of movies. In addition, there is no allusion to the drug. Why these choices ?

Andrea Di Stefano : The music of the film is inspired by the movie Waltz with Bashir [2008, directed by Ari Folman, ed]. My choice of music, rather classical than pop, usually present in this type of movies is completely voluntary. I made no allusions to the drugs, since my goal was to talk about this huge wave that was Pablo Escobar. He was killing everyone and had such a pressure that some people were going to get killed voluntarily to him to save their families. Moreover, in the eyes of the FBI it was more of a serial-killer as a suspect drug-dealer, including because of the various recordings that he had. Kill Pablo Escobar, it was killing his twenty-five acolytes behind. Was someone able to speak normally with his wife and killing side, but the violence was never live.

Dimitri Rassam : The goal was to be in the privacy of a monster to understand things better. The fact of not having shown his ascension is a good thing because it is a film about the character and not on the traffic. This is a true auteur film, not a film genre. We avoided the facility, we came out of the classic patterns (chronology, fate of characters, etc). That said, someone came to see a biopic will not be disappointed, even if he may have been expecting to see a film more traditional.

The sub-theme would it not be prison, among the prison morale of Nico and the prison’s physical Escobar ?

Dimitri Rassan : The theme is the moral choice and fate. How Nico can be as much, but more importantly, as long blinded by love and Escobar ? It is also for this reason that we have not been able to show that the malefic aspect of Pablo Escobar. The theme of fate shows the different levels of imprisonment that one may have.

The gangster movies you have they inspired ?

Andrea Di Stefano : there is The Sponsor for “Mafia and family” and for the medley, as well as to the universal questions. The fact that they are killers does not count in fact. There is also the Italian cinema and the cinema of Scorsese. However, the inspiration does not come, both classic films, but most films oriental, like japanese films in particular.

Dimitri Rassam : The films that have marked me are The Godfather, Scarface. and Gomorrah [2008, directed by Matteo Garrone, editor’s note], because it demystifies the evil. I have the impression of having accompanied Andrea on an adventure. For music, we first thought of the viewer by mixing the references. Our inspirations also come the Sopranos for “the heroic head of the family,” atypical. Our interest was to show that Escobar was.

What is your favorite scene ?

Andrea Di Stefano : I am fascinated to see my players play. My favorite scene is the one room where we see Escobar’s thoughtful, it’s the opening scene.

Dimitri Rassam : I have several but this is mainly the dollhouse because it is simply surreal. The filming lasted fourteen weeks, it was a true pleasure. It is a real choice of cinema to have made the 35mm format. It is hoped that it will last. We also love the film for its humor, this film is a 100% French.


Paradise Lost will be in cinemas on the 5th of November next, discover very soon our criticism.

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