Oliver Stone: U.S. Is Going 'More and More in Decline'
MUMBAI -- Oliver Stone came to 12th annual Mumbai Film Festival, where two films by the Oscar-winning director were screened -- his 2009 documentary "South of the Border" and "Alexander Revisited," his final cut of the 2004 historical drama that was partly filmed in India. Stone spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about India's impact on the world economy and the movies and what he sees as a U.S. that's "more and more in decline."
The Hollywood Reporter: You have been to India on several occasions and are aware of the film industry here. How would you like to see the two big film industries of India and the U.S. working together?
Oliver Stone: I think the Indian film industry has existed without Hollywood for a long time and it turns out tremendous volume and does well. So the marriage between the two is rare as they have different styles. Of course, the best example of the industries coming together was with Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire," but that doesn't happen often and I don't think that [a meeting of the two industries] can always be structured that way. I love the style of Indian movies -- they've always excited me because of how they shift moods between various genres. Now we are doing that kind of musical comedy in the U.S. with "Glee."
THR: In "Natural Born Killers," you used a song by (the late Pakistani maestro) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in the background of a violent scene. How did you come up with that concept of using a sacred song in such a movie?
Stone: It was whirling dervish music and I wanted that madness. I used it over the prison riot scene and other sequences. We got the permission to use that song and put it in and he (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) was shocked. I think he was shocked because that movie really came out of the blue. But the movie was really a statement of anger, a protest against the media that had become perverted and more and more superficial. It was spiritual in a way, a breakout against the system. And the anger that (central characters) Mickey and Mallory felt was, to me, against the system that was oppressive. When they break away, that becomes a religious celebration of freedom. That's why the music was sacred to me.
THR: "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" had an interesting India connection where Frank Langella's character -- who plays a banker whose world is collapsing -- says that these days he is getting calls "from people in Mumbai, Dumbai." He seems flustered at this new world that he is facing. Is that a statement about someone whose powers are eroding against a rising power?
Stone: Yes, he is definitely a man whose time has passed by. The money markets have become very confusing and much more computerized and of course, India is a big source of that computerization and outsourcing. Also the deal-making has become much more complex, and it's true that these big banks lost control of what they were doing, buying and selling securities that they didn't understand completely. So the idea (behind that scene) was to show the globalization of the economy and that people are dealing with people they don't know anymore.