Earlier this month, the Brooklyn Academy Of Music launched their “Heat & Vice: The Films of Michael Mann” retrospective, which featured among other things, a new cut of the director’s cyber thriller “Blackhat” (which we detailed here), and an in-person conversation with the filmmaker (that we highlighted here). But if you couldn’t be there yourself, we’ve got the next best thing.
The full, 77-minute video of Mann’s career spanning talk has landed online, and it’s one you’ll want to roll up your sleeves and dive into. One of the most fascinating elements of the talk was Mann’s insights on his epic crime procedural, “Heat,” a movie that he saw as a huge challenge because he was trying to get the audience to empathize and invest in two opposing, but similar characters: the protagonist cop (Al Pacino) and the antagonist criminal (Robert De Niro), the only two characters, he said, that were “fully self-aware.”
“It was exciting to me to do a film where you have two [characters] on a collision course and it’s going to be fatal, only one’s going to walk away,” he said. “[The challenge was] can I immerse audience within [De Niro] and his expectations, his ambitions, totally suspend moral value judgement, you’re in his world, you’re interiorized into his hopes. And you want him to get away [Amy Brenneman’s character],” he said. “And when you cut to Al Pacino, you want him to apprehend [De Niro]. So that oscillates between the two and they’re both moving towards a collision moment and so both their lives simultaneously, at 100%, that to me was the challenge. And to make it better or worse [for the audience], they like each other.”
He also reveals why he cast Daniel Day-Lewis in “The Last Of The Mohicans,” a role that didn’t immediately seem like a fit for the serious, method thespian. “He’s a great actor. I knew enough about him. I knew that he was a long distance runner, so he was very athletic,” he said, adding that it wasn’t the sole attributed for the part. “What I look for is the spiritual side, the inner man. I look for that affinity to his character. All the other physical attributes we can train.”
There’s plenty to dive into including the digital filmmaking behind “Collateral,” how the ending of “Miami Vice” changed, and more. Watch below.