Why I Made “Force Majeure”
“I’ve been spending a lot of time around the alps in my 20s and always wanted to set a film there. I wanted to use the absurdity of that world. I’d seen a clip on YouTube of an avalanche approaching a group of tourists at a restaurant. In the beginning they were cheering in a joyful way because it seemed so distant and then three seconds later they were in total panic. I thought those two moods, so close to each other, were interesting. I had the idea to center the movie on a family and a friend suggested the idea of a father who runs away from his family in a similar situation. The concept highlights so much about a nuclear family.”
“The family at first doesn’t dare confront what just happened. But when their new friends bring it up, they feel a little more confident to discuss it. Maybe they should talk about it!
“I’ve always been interested in how we relate to each other and the distance between bodies. In this film, a lot of the scenes are about the social awkwardness and the silence when we don’t know what to do. I wanted to create an understanding for the social pressure the husband’s character feels. With the other couple staring at him from across the table, has has to meet expectations placed upon him as a man. That makes him into a liar.
“We shot the scene from the beginning to the end. I shot that way because I was shooting digitally. I’m used to shooting long takes. The actors can get more into the scene emotionally when they don’t have to chop it up. I think that longer takes are often more striking. It highlights the awkwardness of the moment in a different way.
“What often happens when you’re using an American actor in a Swedish film, is that it can come across as a ‘guest appearance.’ I thought it was very important to make Brady Corbet’s character a natural one in the film. I was afraid of the ‘guest’ factor when shooting the scene. I think that Brady did a really good job and I wanted him to be a bit more shy in the scene. He brought that out very vividly in the character. That was my main fear shooting this scene — placing an American in this Swedish couple dinner scene.
“In a way, it’s an essential scene. The film was inspired by a couple of friends of mine who had a similar experience — of the man not doing what’s expected of him. There were a couple of instances where the woman brought up the conflict in public to make it a really awkward social moment. It’s something I’ve witnessed first hand. I think all of us have been in those moments; when intimate, private moments are made public. The scene highlights one of the goals of the film. One of the goals was to create one of the most spectacular avalanche scenes in film history. Another goal was to raise the percentage of divorce in society. I hope this scene helps me do that.”