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The Look of Love
CASANOVA Recreates the Magical World of 18th Century Venice When it came to forging the look of CASANOVA, Lasse Hallström chose to aim for a palpable realism—attempting to recreate the mood and atmosphere of Venice at a time when divided streams of sensuality and morality were both flowing through the spectacular, waterbound city.

From the beginning, the filmmakers knew there was only one option in terms of the film's location: Venice and only Venice would work. Long renowned as one of the world's most romantic and enchanted cities, it couldn't be replicated. "It was critical for Lasse to shoot in Venice because there is no place else on earth like it—and Casanova and Venice are inextricably linked,” says Mark Gordon. "While it was complicated logistically, Venice is now a major character in CASANOVA and it was well worth the challenges.”

Shooting on location is a trademark feature of Lasse Hallström. "The Cider House Rules” was filmed in New England, "The Shipping News” took him to the arctic climate of Newfoundland and "Chocolat” was made in the picturesque villages of France. "I go wherever the script takes me and then I try to get deeply into the life of that place,” Hallström says. "The best way of getting to know Venice was to experience it in person. I am fortunate to have been able to shoot the script in a location that inspired the story and every single person in the production.”

Hallström was dazzled by the architectural landscape Venice offered. The city's stirring and varied topography, from its warren of narrow streets and bridges to the sweep of the bay, from the splendor of the Piazza San Marco to the romantic allure of the canals, became a key aspect of the film, lending itself to CASANOVA's comic escapades and maze-like adventures in identity shifting. "This film is one of the few movies I know of that has been entirely shot in Venice. The city adds the realism we wanted, while providing wonderfully seductive visuals as well,” says the director.

For the cast, shooting in Venice provided constant inspiration. Says Heath Ledger: "It was an absolute dream to shoot in Venice. It was like spending four months in the most amazing museum.”

To further bring out the romance and spirit at Venice's heart, Hallström turned to production designer David Gropman, for whom CASANOVA marks his sixth film collaborating with the director. "The thing that I love about Lasse is his humanity and how that filters through into his filmmaking,” says Gropman. "He always wants the story he is telling to be as honest as possible and, as a designer, this is of great interest to me.”

Gropman scouted as many as sixty locations in and around Venice with Hallström, looking for authentic 300- year-old sites, which he quickly discovered abound. The production utilized such iconic Venetian settings as the Church of Santa Maria della Salute and St. Mark Square, and also gained access to areas that have never been filmed by a major production before, including the Piazza San Marco, which is flooded by every afternoon, and the Palazzo Ducale, the famous pink-and-white gothic palace which is an architectural highlight of the city.

"It's an incredible advantage to shoot in a city where most of the exteriors and a lot of the interiors look pretty much as they did in the 18th Century,” Gropman notes. "Once you eliminate the outdoor plumbing and electrics and signs and shop fronts, so much of the baroque and rococo details are completely intact. The primary resource material is right in front of you, around every corner, in every church or palazzo that you wander into.

Everywhere you go you are receiving information that informs the choices that you make. Also, while it is a more abstract idea, we were also influenced by the flavor of being with the people of Venice<

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