A few minutes with Fernando Meirelles …


Meirelles: You know, I read the book both in English and in Portuguese. In English, it was difficult, but when you read it in Portuguese, it's even worse because it's an old Portuguese. You also never think the story happens in a contemporary time — you think maybe it's the '30s or '40s — and you don't know where it takes place. My first thought was to set the movie in the 1940s.

Meirelles: I wanted to make a contemporary film, to make it with ordinary people in a contemporary city so people can have a relationship with the characters. I begin with imagery that makes it feel like a normal film. It even feels a little like a romantic comedy. It's like everyday life, and then little by little you're dragged into a world that's very different.

Meirelles: If I had a choice, I would have done it in Portuguese. But the problem is that a film in Brazil can only cost $4 million or $5 million. You couldn't pay for it. So we had to do it in English so an American company could help pay. But I have people speaking in slightly bad English so you don't know where it is. … I don't want viewers to know exactly where they are. (partialdiff)