From James Grissom on Facebook:
Jane Campion believes in rigorous preparation. When directing a film, she works sometimes for years to ready the environment — and herself. Before she began shooting her new feature, “The Power of the Dog,” she returned again and again to the mountain range in New Zealand she had chosen as a location, checking what the light was like at different times of day, in different weather, across seasons. She went to visit the ranches in Montana where Thomas Savage, who wrote the novel on which the film is based, grew up. She sent Benedict Cumberbatch — who stars as Phil, a vicious, hypermasculine rancher — to Montana as well, to learn roping, riding, horseshoeing, whittling, banjo and bull-calf castration.
But in rehearsals, her approach tends to be more oblique. For “The Power of the Dog,” she gathered the actors for a few weeks to hike, improvise and do exercises. They ate together, cooked together or just sat in rooms, in character, not talking. She asked Cumberbatch to write a letter as Phil to Phil’s dead lover, Bronco Henry. Then she had him write back as Bronco Henry. She asked Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons, who play brothers, to waltz together, to help them learn intimately how the other’s body smelled, felt and moved, visceral qualities that boys who’ve grown up together would know.
Campion also tried something new: She went to see a Jungian dream analyst out of Los Angeles, hoping to more deeply connect with Phil’s psychology, and she suggested Cumberbatch do the same. Campion normally doesn’t dream much, but soon she began having the same nightmare over and over. She was riding a black horse, beautiful and skittish, down a steep, narrow pathway along the face of a cliff. As they went farther down the trail, she realized that the path was vanishing into nothing, that the horse’s hooves would inevitably hit an angle too sheer to support their weight. We’ve got to back up, she thought. But the horse, too frightened and not yet trusting her, wouldn’t listen. It pressed forward, toward the vanishing point.
Oh, this is certain death, she thought, and she woke up.
“Of course Jane Campion’s dreams are so rich in imagery,” Cumberbatch joked on the phone. “Sexual, fantastical, spiritual, just exploding orchids of blood. Whereas I’m dreaming that I can’t quite climb the tree.”
The Power of the Dog Netflix The Academy