`Blow’ director influenced by 1970s

`Blow’ director influenced by 1970s

November 30
00:00 -0001

“On Tuesday, March 20, members of the regional entertainment press and a few student filmmakers were invited to Dallas’ Highland Park for a free screening of director Ted Demme’s upcoming film “Blow.” After the screening, Demme answered questions from the audience.
“Blow” follows the true story of George Jung, a young man from Boston who moved to California in the 1960s to pursue the American dream. In the film, Jung rises to the top of the marijuana trade, and is then caught and sent to prison. While serving his time, he meets fellow entrepreneur Diego Delgado. Delgado introduces Jung to the riches of the cocaine business, which eventually sent Jung to prison permanently.
“It’s the story of the American dream gone terribly wrong,” Demme said. “Jung was a guy who wanted to control his own destiny, live by his own rules, and he found a way to do it and get rich.”
Currently, Jung is in federal prison and not scheduled for a parole hearing until 2017. However, to get the details needed from Jung about his story, members of the cast and crew would call, write, or visit Jung.
“Jung would call me from prison, and I would go and see him about every three months or so,” Demme said. “This was a six-year project, and it all started when [screenwriter] Nick Cassavetes introduced me to the book,” Demme said.
Demme also commented on his efforts to give the film its extraordinary optical treatment.
“We wanted [the film] to have a real period look. We used a lot of the same lenses, film stock, and color palettes as the did in the 60s, `70s, and `80s.” We wanted the feeling of decades elapsing and the mood of the time to be reflected in colors, costume, and make up effects, Demme said.
Demme said he was “inspired by the bridges and voice-overs” of Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas.”
“I watched ‘Goodfellas’ over and over again.” Demme said. “I had to buy it twice because I wore out my first copy.”
Demme said that the 1970s era captured in “Goodfellas” inspired him to make the film.
“The `70s were all about coke, and those who continued partying into the `80s suffered greatly,” Demme said. Those who kept the lifestyle came crashing to earth.
“Blow” reflects these themes in an honest, sometimes gritty manner.
“Jung’s [story] is something that needed to be told. Like Jung, you’ve got a lot of kids in prison that need treatment. When you get out [of prison] and you have a shady past, then you really have nowhere else to turn to but that lifestyle,” Demme said.
“The war on drugs is false and the government is losing. Prison is full of kids like Jung, who got caught up in the middle of everything. Now Jung is doing 60 years and his daughter has never gone to see him.”
Demme praises Mirtha Jung, George’s former wife, for getting out of the lifestyle, he said.
“Mirtha Jung has been clean for 20 years,” Demme said. “She’s very brave for getting out of that lifestyle and protecting her daughter.
“I like that the story isn’t just about the drug smuggler’s world,” Demme said. “To me, it’s ultimately a love story between a father and a daughter that’s heartbreaking. It’s about what happens when someone who can’t afford to care about anyone finally discovers love.”
“Blow” stars Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz. The film is rated R and opens in theaters Friday.

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Travis S. Barnes

Travis S. Barnes

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