Prior to this year, Anton Corbijn was known as a portrait photographer publishing images in magazines like Rolling Stone, SPIN and Vogue and also as director of music videos including Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus,” Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” and U2’s “One.” His début feature film, Control (about Joy Division’s lead singer Ian Curtis) was a huge hit with critics and audiences at Cannes and the Toronto International Film Festival. Flare sat down with Corbijn at the Toronto International Film Festival to discuss his latest masterpiece.
F: Why did you choose Joy Division’s Ian Curtis as the topic of your first feature film?
AC: The story found me. I could get emotionally involved with it and I thought that was a good starting block.
F: Having known Curtis personally, what struck you most about his life?
AC: His story is a very human one. He was just a boy who became a singer and had an incredible gift for lyrics. He got married at a very young age and was trying to live conservatively while tackling fame.
F: You worked with Samantha Morton for U2’s “One” video. Did you have her in mind to play Curtis’ wife Debbie from the beginning?
AC: No. I thought that she was too big and would not be interested in working with me, but a friend encouraged me to approach her. She is an amazing actress; she challenged me as a filmmaker.
F: While Ian was still alive, you worked with Joy Division. Were you friends with his wife or his mistress?
AC: I met Annik once, but I never met his wife, Debbie.
F: What did Debbie and her daughter think of the film?
AC: They did okay with it, but it was too emotional for them to say it was great. New Order loves it!
F: The last shot of this movie is a crane shot that moves from an image of a cemetery up to the sky. What is the significance of this ending?
AC: Eternity. Ian is gone, but he is still everywhere.
Read about the love affair between Anton Corbijn’s leading characters in Control