Neruda: Interview with Chile’s Director Pablo Larrain

Why Neruda? Why biopic?

We see and feel Pablo Neruda as a creator who is so complex and extensive, practically infinite, that it’s impossible to put him into a single category, or indeed a single film purporting to establish or define his personality or his work in a hard and fast way.  That’s why we chose the escape, the investigation and the literary legend.

For us, NERUDA is an anti-biopic. It’s a biopic that isn’t really a biopic because we didn’t really take the task of making a portrait of the poet that seriously, simply because that’s impossible. Instead we decided to put together a film from elements of invention and playfulness. In that manner, the audience can soar alongside him in his poetry, his memory, and his Cold War communist ideology.

How does Neruda the artist experience the events of 1940s Chile?

During his escape, Neruda wrote a good part of “Canto General,” which is perhaps his most massive, complete and risky book. It was inspired by everything he saw and went through during his escape. The writing is full of fury and flights of fancy, as well as terrible dreams and cosmic descriptions of an angry and desperate Latin America in crisis.

Neruda constructed a political tome about war, rage and poetry while on the run, which for us opened the door to a wildly imaginary investigation, because, like the poet and his work, the film constructs an intersection between art and politics from a cinematic and literary point of view.

Neruda’s escape as the film’s main focus

Neruda liked crime stories, which is why the film turns out to be a road movie with a police investigation element. These are genres which involve changes and evolving characters and, in the case of NERUDA, elements of farce and the absurd as well. No one winds up as he began, neither the hunter nor the prey.

We invented a world, just as Neruda invented his. The film we made is more a “Nerudian” film than it is a film about Neruda, or perhaps it’s both. We created a novel that we would have liked Neruda to read.