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THE BRAVE ONE

The Safest Big City In The World
While his cast was delving into the minds and bodies of their characters, Neil Jordan was immersing himself in the heart of New York City. "I am a foreigner to New York,” the Dublin-born director acknowledges, "so one of the major elements of preparation was going around, looking at every corner of the city, finding places that people hadn't filmed before and places that suited this particular story. There is an extraordinarily graphic nature to the city that I wanted to capture.”

Joel Silver attests, "Neil took a lot of time getting to know the city. He saw it with so much love and admiration, and that's how he wanted to depict it. It was very important to him that the story not be seen as any kind of indictment about the safety of New York City. In fact, we live in a time when everyone, everywhere can relate to feeling a lack of safety. It's certainly not specific to New York.”

Foster, who has both lived and worked in New York, agrees. "The truth is that New York is statistically ‘the safest big city in the world,' but if you are the victim of a crime, the fact that you're a statistical anomaly doesn't really help. It doesn't make you feel any safer to say, ‘Oh well, it was just me, but look at all the other people that didn't get hurt.' If you are the person who gets hurt, it's not so easy to dismiss the fear. That really became a part of what we're saying in the movie: the fear doesn't have to be justified; more and more it is something that's sown into our culture.”

Jordan adds, "Since 9/11, the city has gone through an amazing rebirth; it's incredibly safe, but there's a sense that no matter how idyllic the street life seems, it could all be ripped apart at any moment. I think that's what we're plugging into in this film.”

In the weeks leading up to principal photography, Jordan got a crash course on New York City from executive producer Herbert Gains and production designer Kristi Zea, who says she took her "marching orders” from producer Joel Silver. "From the beginning, Joel told me he wanted us to show New York like no one had before, to pick locations that no one had ever shot before, so he really threw the gauntlet down. It was an interesting experience for me because I was born and raised in New York and have done a lot of movies there, so it was a challenge for me to look at the city with new eyes.”

Zea says she and Jordan drove all over the city and its outskirts, "looking at different neighborhoods and getting a response from Neil as to what he liked and didn't like.” In one of those neighborhoods, they found the perfect location for Erica's apartment building. The designer reveals, "What we liked about the exterior was that on either side of the building were lots where there had been buildings, but they had been torn down and in their place were gardens that the community had reclaimed. So her apartment building stood alone in the midst of this urban renewal.”

Zea designed the interiors of the building's hallways and Erica's apartment to look like those of an old tenement building that had been renovated but still had echoes of the past. She expounds, "The idea was that the apartment had been completely revamped, but the hallway, although it is clean and has a fresh coat of paint, is still kind of eerie. So you have a sense of the old juxtaposed with the new.”

On the edge of Central Park, they found a location that lent itself in both design and tone to the pivotal scene in which Erica and David are ambushed. Zea notes, "We were scouting and came upon this place called Stranger's Gate. It's carved in stone right outside of Central Park. Then you look up the staircase and it curves around this huge boulder and, even with the lights, it looks a little creepy. You have no way of knowing what could be lurking there. We intentionally chose places t

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