Okay, we haven’t covered a lot of Joe Wright movies before. Pride and Prejudice and Atonement aren’t exactly Screen Junkies types of films. His next movie is on our radar though. Hanna stars Saoirse Ronan as a teenager trained in survival and assassination. Even that outrageous premise sounds familiar these days, but Wright’s take is more arthouse. Hanna’s daring escapes and fights play with what you actually see in the editing.
“One of the reasons why I was excited to make the film was the formal challenge of shooting action,” Wright said at a reception for the film. “I think action is like pure cinema because it can’t be replicated in any other medium. With drama, you can put people on a stage. With photography, you can put it in a gallery. With action, it really only works in cinema and that’s because of montage. So I really enjoyed playing with the ellipses and the magic of Hanna’s action. It’s as much about what you don’t see as it is about what you do see.”
Hanna won’t look like the glossy Jerry Bruckheimer action movies, or even the gritty Bourne style that’s become all the rage. Wright is friends with Paul Greengrass and admires his game changer for the genre, but he looked to more obscure sources.
“I wanted to avoid the normal clichés of action stuff, so I looked at Robert Bresson’s film Pickpocket. I think his economy of action, the whole train station sequence, is extraordinary. Also Alwin Kuchler, my wonderful DoP, showed me Boy Meets Girl, his kind of very expressionistic action sequences, long running in those movies and I really enjoyed the idea of playing with the reality of what we were doing. When she’s running in the strobe lights for instance where she’s running on a running machine. She’s not actually moving at all. The lights and the camera created the movement and she’s actually staying completely still.”
The music of Hanna gives the film a unique voice too. Longtime friends with The Chemica Brothers, Wright hired them to do the score. “Before filming, I asked them to compose a couple of tracks. I told them that I wanted a kind of fucked up fairy tale theme that could be kind of whistled by the baddies throughout the movie later on. I kind of gave them cues and gave them bits of ideas. So once we had those tracks, we would play them while we were filming on a big sound system, or I’d just play their albums to give a rhythm. My editor, Paul Tothill who’s wonderful with music, so during post production, I send them a rough cut of the scene, they send me a track, I recut their track, send it back to them so there’s a constant kind of dialogue going on between us.”
Hanna hits theaters April 8.