Writers in Paradise
Once the writing process on BEFORE MIDNIGHT was truly afoot, with an outline and
Greek setting decided on, producers Christos V. Konstantakopoulos (Take Shelter,
Attenberg, Somebody Up There Likes Me) and Woodhatch assembled the writers
(along with fortunate spouses and children) to hash out the final script. "We wanted
to create the best creative environment for them to write in -- a bubble, just a
fabulously idyllic setting with no outside diversions. We set them up at Costa
Navarino, the gorgeous resort in Messinia where the hotel scenes in the film were
shot. To watch the creative dynamism is mesmerizing -- it's like they have invisible
elastic bands between them. They audition funny parts and sad parts for each other
to see if they work, and it's so compelling."
The camera may be trained squarely on Celine and Jesse, but when it breaks away to
take in the surroundings, Greece itself -- beautiful, troubled, ancient, modern --
becomes a character in the film. "There was just something about Greece," says
Linklater. "We find Jesse and Celine in a sort of paradise: they're together, he's writing books, she's an environmentalist, they have children -- I mean so much of
what they probably wanted to have happen in their lives has come to pass, and yet
here they are on this idyllic summer vacation, and all is not perfect, it never is."
"There's no more moving place to be in Europe than Greece right now," says Hawke,
"Because it's both intensely ancient and it's very present as a modern force. It's in
the news every day. But romantic love is timeless -- love is always new and it's
always been done before. Everybody's doing it. Kids are falling in love -- you know,
there's a new set of before sunrises every day. It's a well-worn path and it's
infinitely interesting to us, to humans. Eros is a very mysterious god, because he's
both the youngest and the oldest. Greece conjures up a longing for some meaning in
life, which I think is valuable as a metaphor to the film."
Says Delpy, "It made memorizing the lines and shooting those scenes a little less
painful because we were in the most amazing place I've ever been -- this ancient
place where western civilization basically started, you know?"
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