Madonna: Swept Away to release Swept Away
Imagine being shipwrecked on a beautiful, deserted island - with someone you really can't stand.MADONNA and ADRIANO GIANNINI star in director/screenwriter GUY RITCHIE'S contemporary adaptation of Lina Wertmuller's 1974 romantic comedy "Swept Away," a story of love, sex, drugs and too much money - all set against the backdrop of a Mediterranean island paradise.
Title: Swept Away
Release date: 10/15/02
Label: Varese Records
Buy at: Amazon
Amber (MADONNA) is 40, beautiful, rich, spoiled and arrogant beyond measure. Selfish, superficial and childless, she steamrolls her way through life, leaving in her wake an ever-present aura of repressed rage, pungent dissatisfaction and secret longing. Nothing makes this woman happy, including her wealthy but passive husband Tony (BRUCE GREENWOOD), a pharmaceutical kingpin.
Knowing that his wife is bored by their usual exotic vacations, Tony surprises Amber by taking her and two other couples, Marina (JEANNE TRIPPLEHORN) and Michael (DAVID THORNTON), Todd (MICHAEL BEATTIE) and Debi (ELIZABETH BANKS) on a private cruise from Greece to Italy. But as usual, Amber dismisses her husband's pathetic efforts to please her with a contemptuous snort. Complaining about everything from the size of their private jet to their choice of companions, Amber loses it when she sees that the sleek yacht she was expecting is actually a converted Greek fishing boat, complete with a malodorous crew and most horrifyingly - no gym. Forced into an amenities-free vacation of playing cards and relaxing, Amber finds a target for her anger in the ship's first mate, Giuseppe (ADRIANO GIANNINI).
Giuseppe, a strapping young fisherman with a wicked sense of humor and a repressed rage of his own, bitterly resents his American clients and everything they stand for, especially Amber. Amber senses his rejection and quickly makes sport of antagonizing him. Challenged by his refusal to cower in her formidable presence, she needles him incessantly, calling him names (Guido, Pepe, Pee pee, etc.), insulting his "fishes" and ridiculing him in front of his crew and the other guests. Unable to defend himself without losing his job, Giuseppe is furious, but is also aware of an involuntary and unstoppable attraction toward the miserable Amber.
Hours after her companions have gone exploring the underwater caves one day, Amber demands that Giuseppe take her to join them despite his warnings about the late hour and questionable weather. Before long, the boat's motor fails and they drift helplessly as dusk approaches and Amber's bitching reaches an ear-splitting crescendo. Two days at sea, a thunderstorm and one sardine later they are shipwrecked together on a deserted island. Suddenly, the rules have changed.
Amber, to her horror, is now completely dependent on Giuseppe - and he takes full advantage to retaliate. Will they ever be rescued? Will Giuseppe's taunting become too much for the newly vulnerable Amber to bear? The result is a passionate and hilarious role reversal, with a surprising conclusion that neither Amber nor Giuseppe sees coming.
About the Production
"All rich people are the same, they play funny little games.
Don't react and they get bored and change the game.
Our job is to smile...like idiots."
Swept Away is the third film to be directed by Guy Ritchie, following Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, two highly successful and innovative movies which introduced cinema audiences to a director with a unique style of filmmaking.
Despite his previous success, Guy Ritchie says, "I was never particularly interested in gangster films, I just thought it was a good place to start. I want to cover as many of the genres I'm interested in as possible, and I intend to make each film as disparate as I can from the last."
Producer Matthew Vaughn adds, "The challenge for Guy is that not only is it a new genre for him, it's sticking to low budget filmmaking and a six week schedule which in itself is tough."
"Swept Away is the fourth Ska Films production," says Vaughn, "and follows our company criteria: one, will it make money without sacrificing creative integrity, and two, is it a movie that is entertaining and has an audience? This movie certainly delivers on both."
Setting up Swept Away was the challenge which faced co-producers Adam Bohling and David Reid. Reid recalled a pivotal call from Guy Ritchie which set the whole production in motion:
"Adam Bohling and I received a phone call from Guy who was with Madonna on her Drowned World tour. Guy said he wanted to do this movie. He wanted eight actors, a luxury yacht and a deserted island, and he wanted to start shooting in ten weeks time!"
Bohling and Reid went into overdrive and ten weeks to the day the production was in place with locations in Malta and Sardinia secured. Madonna then arrived in Malta to begin shooting scenes set against a series of stunning Mediterranean locations.
Why Swept Away?
Matthew Vaughn explained, "Guy and Madonna watched the original and thought that it had all the ingredients to base a new film on."
"The first one was a great movie," says Ritchie. "When we decided to do [a remake], I wanted the relationship between Amber and Giuseppe to be different - and to make him less approachable." The politically incorrect nature of the film also attracted him - that is, Amber finally getting what she deserves.
"I first saw the original when I was in high school," recalls Madonna, "but we got the idea of doing a remake when it was suggested by mutual friends and Guy loved the idea. The premise of this movie is much the same as the original, but the end is quite different, and I think there is more humor."
About the Boat and Locations
The shooting schedule of Swept Away covered a six-week period, which started with three weeks based at Malta's Mediterranean Film Studios. Throughout the Malta shoot, the production was blessed with an August climate in October, giving a spectacular look to key scenes shot aboard the luxury yacht Fair Lady, chartered from Lord Sainsbury. Renamed Little Arris for the movie, the 40-metre vessel with cast and crew aboard set off each morning from the Vittoriosa dock in the Grand Harbour. They were accompanied by a flotilla of support boats to ensure the waterways were kept clear for filming.
Other scenes were filmed at the Blue Lagoon on the island of Comino, a small island virtually uninhabited, sandwiched between Malta and Gozo. With no cars, no roads and only one hotel that opened for the summer, the whole island is a wildlife sanctuary.
Birgu Wharf was transformed into the harbor market which marks the dockside arrival of Amber and party. This is where they board the Little Arris to begin their eventful vacation.
Scenes of Amber and Giuseppe adrift in a dinghy were shot at the Mediterranean Film Studios known for its open-air water tanks, which look out directly onto the Mediterranean. The ingenious surface water tank is designed so that its natural horizon enables the water, sky and horizon to appear seamless, eliminating the need of a false backdrop or visual effects. Measuring 300 x 400 ft and 4 to 6ft deep, it creates a unique and controlled environment for filmmakers. Director Ridley Scott called it "the best water facility I know of," while Guy Ritchie stated, "It would have been worth coming to Malta for the tanks alone."
Wrapping in Malta one day ahead of schedule, the cast and crew moved on to Sardinia to shoot the central part of the movie - scenes on the deserted island where Amber and Giuseppe discover their passion for each other.
Madonna says, "We'd been cut-off from the rest of the world while making the movie and that was a good thing."
"We have landed on a deserted island!"
In Sardinia, the production and crew were based in the Nuoro province in the village of Oliena, taking over the palatial Hotel Su Gologone.
Here the production was joined by Cineroma, the Italian production company hired to assist the Sardinian shoot. The eastern coast of Cala Gonone was the location chosen for the island scenes with its combination of beaches at Fuili, Spiaggia di Cartoe and Camino, followed by a move to the northwest coast to the port of Alghero for the final scenes. Guy Ritchie believed Sardinia to be "one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen."
It was during the Sardinian shoot that an appreciative crew was treated to a unique performance. The fantasy sequence (created in part by Madonna) was filmed at night on a deserted beach and featured Madonna singing and dancing to the fifties song Come-On-A-My-House, backed by a Latin band dressed in tuxedos.
Costume designer Arianne Phillips explains, "The fantasy scene was really when Madonna's celebrity, her talent and the character all come together for a glorious moment. It was amazing to watch the crew react to her. We wanted to go for a classic look - Ginger Rogers meets Carmen Miranda. The dress she wore was yellow Versace, we wanted it to have fun and humor."
The Characters of Swept Away
The central role of Amber gives Madonna the opportunity to create the character of a multi-faceted woman who is both unpredictable and intriguing. Talking about the role, Madonna says, "Amber is a very unhappy person to start with, then she has an epiphany of sorts when she is shipwrecked on the island with Guiseppe."
The film marks the first feature collaboration between Madonna and Guy Ritchie. Ritchie describes working with his wife as, "Solid gold!"
They had previously worked together on a music video and a short film and Ritchie says, "I decided to do Swept Away because I got on so well with her doing the other projects. She's a real professional and doesn't mess around like some actors - we got on very well."
Playing opposite Madonna is thirty-year-old Italian actor Adriano Giannini, who makes his English speaking debut as the young Italian fisherman who is overcome by his passion for a rich, headstrong woman.
"Giuseppe is a fisherman," explains Adriano. "In a way he is untouched by life - he is a pure man. He knows nothing of the life that belongs to Amber. He is angry, always fighting everything - but he changes when he falls in love."
"Adriano," says Madonna, "is great, very easy going. I think the fact he worked for ten years behind the camera allowed him to have a certain ease and grace in front of it. He was the only Italian in a English and American cast and crew and at times I think he felt alienated, but ultimately his past experience as a technician helped him feel comfortable. He did a great job and I liked working with him."
The role of Tony, Amber's husband, is played by Bruce Greenwood, one of Hollywood's busiest and most versatile actors. Greenwood won rave reviews for his portrayal of President Kennedy in the Cuban missile drama Thirteen Days, and recently appeared as the submarine commander in Miramax's supernatural thriller Below.
Attracted by the opportunity to work with Madonna and Guy Ritchie, Greenwood had a definite handle on the group of characters who take off on a Mediterranean vacation.
"What the group have in common is their ability to ignore each other, to ignore the drunken ugliness that manifests itself. They forgive that. It's like when you have friends you have known for a long time and their relationship has disintegrated but they stay together. You forgive them because you've known them for so long. So in a way, you disintegrate together."
Jeanne Tripplehorn, who achieved movie stardom in the erotic thriller Basic Instinct, was cast as the pharmaceutically-enhanced lush Marina, and spoke highly of working with Guy Ritchie and Madonna.
"Guy was just terrific in helping me finding my character," she says. "Just a few key words and Marina was there. Guy is very in tune with all the characters in this movie. Marina is Amber's best friend, so through our scenes I got to spend time with Madonna. I have tremendous respect for her, she's so very focused and prepared on set. As a person, she's a real girl's girl so we had a great time together."
Of her character, Tripplehorn says, "Marina is rich, cool, and aloof when she wants to be. She's quite flirty and knows how to have a good time. Marina is the walking definition that money doesn't equal taste."
Asked of her most abiding memory of the shoot, Tripplehorn states, "My most vivid memory was being on that wonderful yacht and being seasick!"
New York actor David Thornton plays Marina's husband, Michael. "Michael," Thornton explains, "is an extremely successful, superficial guy who has surrounded himself with all the material creature comforts to help define himself and his success. We have to understand Michael and Marina and why they stay together. It's about dependency, alcohol and pills. They see themselves as trendsetters. Were they to get swept away like Amber, they might look in the mirror and think otherwise."
Playing the role of the young girlfriend Debi is Elizabeth Banks, who was recently seen in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man.
"Lock, Stock and Snatch were such cool movies, so I was thrilled to be asked to work with Guy," she says. "Debi is the kind of girl who always asks every question twice! She's different from the others, she's untouched by their cynicism and their lifestyle."
Completing the acting ensemble is Michael Beattie, who takes on the role of Todd. Beattie had previously worked with Guy Ritchie and Madonna on their internet short film, Star.
Explaining the interaction between the characters, Beattie says, "Bruce, David and I talked with Guy about the relationship of these three guys. We surmised that they were college buddies, they hung out as friends and that's where they hooked up. They do a trip of some kind each year and have probably not seen each other since the year before as they live in different cities. The vacation is a big deal for them, and of course it gets more complicated when they hook up with their spouses."
Beattie clearly had a blast filming the scenes set aboard the yacht. "My favorite part of the filming was the spaghetti tossing scene. We shot the whole scene incredibly in one take - from the pasta being mixed perfectly, to Giuseppe dropping it perfectly over Amber's head and it running perfectly down her face, to the stunt double doing the drop off the deck into the ocean. All in one take, it never happens. It was astounding and great fun to be part of that scene."
One of the cast remarked that part of the appeal of working with Guy was his crew. "The trust he puts in them is incredible. It's like an all for one, one for all. The atmosphere generated makes you feel like you're never leaving the pub!"
Commenting on the on-set element of fun and camaraderie, Ritchie concurred: "It's more important than anything. Understanding among people guarantees an easier ride and a better end result."
Creating the look of Swept Away
The production designer of Swept Away is Russell de Rozario, who created the designs for the recent Ska Films production, Mean Machine.
"Our preparation time was very short," Rozario notes, "Guy likes to keep things simple and pragmatic, he likes to rely on the narrative and his own visual intuition. He wanted it to look very Mediterranean."
In Malta, the interiors of the yacht, the kitchen and the cabin were done at the Mediterranean Studios. "I particularly liked the wharf, which we transformed into a harbor market," said Rozario. "We were also lucky to have two stunning props, the yacht and the plane!"
"Working with Guy has been a great experience. He is so passionate about what he does; he thinks on his feet, likes to offer up several options and is excited about the whole process. It's easy to respond to someone like that."
Arianne Phillips has designed costumes for over 15 diverse feature films including The Crow, People vs Larry Flynt, Girl, Interrupted and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Over the past four years she has also enjoyed a creative collaboration with Madonna on music videos and her Drowned World tour.
"Music videos," says Phillips "are like mini movies, so the opportunity to work with Madonna on a full-length feature had great appeal. Also, I saw the original film when I was a girl and it has always been one of my favorite movies."
"Madonna has a wonderful grasp on the character she plays; she's committed to Amber in every aspect. She's also a risk-taking person in general and is full of ideas - which is always intriguing. I don't like to work in a vacuum, so Madonna worked with me on this as a kind of aesthetic consultant which made it more seamless."
"The characters in this really jumped out at me. Both Guy and Madonna have given me a lot of autonomy and I think that is what's so wonderful about working with them. They really trust their crew to bring something to the plate."
Color, silhouette and texture were important for Phillips in designing Amber's look. "That's how I can illustrate subtle or broad strokes in character," she says. "For example, Amber is quite dark in her colors and overly chic in a way, while Marina, the Jeanne Tripplehorn character, is vivacious and bright and has the ?absolutely fabulous' vein," says Phillips.
"When it came to the actual designs, it was this wonderful chemistry of the combination of the casting and the characters on the page that made the choices and the clothing very easy and kind of fun," said Phillips.
Swept Away Tracklisting
5. Night in Dinghy
8. Separate Ways
9. Beach Confrontation
11. First Boat
14. Phone Call
16. Come-On-A-My-House - Della Reese
"Swept Away" by Madonna - release date: 10/15/02..