Ivan D’Antonio, a filmmaker from Italy, explains his inspiration for “Bolero”. Filmed in lonely places, it’s only not a musing on music but on the paradox of Schrodinger’s cat. He explains:
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What's your background?
I studied classical painting at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze (Florence Academy of Fine Arts), but I’ve been always fascinated by science. In the beginning this fascination found its natural way in painting. I used to prepare my own colours from stones and plants and other materials, studying ancient formulas and experimenting with new ones.
Then, five years ago I decided to change career because I wanted to add ‘time’ to images. A person can observe a painting for 2 seconds, 2 minutes or 20 minutes - it’s up to them. A film, instead, needs time to be seen, an amount of time that the author chooses. It’s another dimension to art that you can use to manipulate stories. Thinking about time brought me to the theory of relativity, which I’d studied at school. I read more and more and watched documentaries, and one day I chanced upon the incredible world of quantum theory.
I believe that art, spirituality and physics are really close: they try to understand Nature and, in a bigger view, the universe - or multiverse! They do it in different ways with different purposes, but the answers are there and we use our personal talent to search for them.
Who are the other people on your team?
The main actor, Danil Aceto, is one of my best friends. He has a background in theatre and opera singing. The other character, the girl in the woods, is played by my girlfriend Marilisa Speca. She also helps me as assistant producer and coordinator. She was listening to Ravel’s Boléro at home when the idea of this short film came to my mind. I worked without crew because I wanted to make the actor feel really alone: only me, him and the camera.
What was your inspiration in making Bolero?
I wrote Bolero to tell a story about the fear of taking a decision that could break normality. Thinking about the unknown consequences of taking a decision made Schrödinger’s cat pop into my mind, and there are some references to this paradox in the film. For instance, the main character speaks while he is in a cave. From that place he doesn’t know what’s happening in the world. He doesn’t know what awaits him outside: the world is alive and dead at the same time and he doesn’t know to which one of these states he belongs. It’s like he is a man outside the box of Scrodinger’s cat, before he looks inside.
While I was writing, I became interested in the question of whether not taking a decision holds the character at a point before his universe divides, or is not taking a decision a decision itself? That’s why the character speaks about being in the middle, on the edge of the coin, “where the one ends and the two starts”. It’s also why I chose the title “Bolero”. Bolero is a genre of spanish music associated with dance. It has an obsessive rhythm from the start to the end. In Ravel's Bolero, this rhythm also has an impressive crescendo. These features fit very well with what happens in the universe and in our lives. For example, we live on a planet that spins around the Sun and around itself constantly and as human beings within society we repeat the same routine every day. Everything has its own obsessive, great rhythm from the beginning to the end of its time.
Ravel’s Bolero inspired me because it's a sort of loop, a cycle; there are no variations, only instruments that add in time, layer by layer, one upon the other, making the music stronger, louder… delaying the end, making the decision of stopping the crescendo more and more difficult, letting us hope that it will grow forever. But everything has an end. Delaying a decision is, in a certain way, like our inner will to delay death. A decision forces something to end and usually we are scared by new paths. After an end the only thing that remains is what happened before that, what happened just in the middle. That’s why the decision to “not open the cat’s box” holds the character in the position where the world out there is surviving at 50%. Living with this hope is enough for him while waiting his end.
How did you hear about Quantum Shorts?
Some weeks before I found the Quantum Shorts Festival on FilmFreeway, I was telling a friend of mine that the thoughts behind Bolero may remain too hidden, that the film may be seen “only” as a dystopian story instead of a reflection about life and the universe. I never imagined finding a Festival dedicated to quantum physics. Bolero finally had the chance to show its deeper layers!