After the success of Boogie Nights, Paul Thomas Anderson was given cart blanche by New Line Cinema to develop whatever idea he wanted. He originally wanted to make something intimate and small scale, but as his wish list off actors to work with grew (Julianne Moore, Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Melora Walters, William H. Macy, Alfred Molina), so did the film, Magnolia. Yet, conversely, the scale of, as he described it “the epic, all-time great San Fernando Valley movie” merely served to offer many aspects of the central theme pervading the film: damaged children, and also, fathers near the end of life, reflecting on regrets and bad relationships.
Anderson told Cynthia Fuchs in Pop Matters:
“It feels like the sort of thing that comes out of men. Don’t they seem like the best vehicle for that kind of fucking regret? I mean, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.” The film shows costs as well as laments. The dead dog, for instance: Anderson says, “When I wrote it, I thought, what exactly is this saying? So I decided to leave it alone. And then, ironically enough, Something About Mary came out and there’s all that wacky, funny dead dog shit going on in that movie, which actually propelled me to not worry about it anymore and really do it for real. I felt some beautiful dead-dog power touching my shoulder, saying, ‘No, really. Just do it. You have some kind of weird reasons that are okay.’”
His friendship with singer / songwriter Aimee Mann influenced and shaped the film also. In the sleeve notes to her album of songs from the film, he says:
“In the late summer and early fall on 1997, I was listening to Aimee’s music over and over again. Now, having the benefit of knowing Aimee I was allowed to hear demos, acoustic experiments and basic work-in-progress material that she was working on for her upcoming record. So while she was working, I was working.
Everything she seemed to be thinking were things that I was thinking. Now this may be due to the fact that at the time, we were very close friends sharing a majority of our time together, or it may be due to the fact that she was articulating feelings and ideas better than I ever could and I wanted to rip her off. I would say the second is true.”
For instance, the character Claudia’s line ( Melora Walters) to John C. Reilly’s cop, “Now that I’ve met you, would you object to never seeing me again?” came from Mann’s song “Deathly“. Anderson says:
“It equals the story of Claudia. It equals the heart and soul of Magnolia. All stories for the movie were written branching off from Claudia…all storiescome from Aimee’s brain, not mine.”
Modest chap. Here is the documentary “That Moment” from the DVD release of Magnolia on the making of the film, and Aimee Mann’s “Wise up” as sung by the characters towards the end of the film. Like the colour Magnolia itself, a love it or hate it conceit.
Originally posted 2014-07-10 16:54:02. Republished by Blog Post Promoter