MM: How familiar were you with mermaids as mythological characters before embarking on this adventure?

AS: I knew the Hans Christian Anderson mermaid, and Disney’s animated Ariel, and Splash, and I knew the sirens from Homer. I loved Anderson’s fairy tale when I was a little girl. That’s why I asked Robert to adapt them from the Hans Christian Anderson version, which is not as happy as the one Disney made, because Disney changed it.

MM: Because the story takes place in the ’80s, there is a very particular aesthetic not only to the costumes and music, but also to the light. Tell us about working with DP Jakub Kijowski to achieve it.

AS: The film is set in the 1980s, and he wanted to use old lenses and specific colors, because in the ’80s there was another kind of street lamp, different from the ones we use now. The texture of the light was different in the ’80s. He really used these old lenses and old lamps, and he was inspired by everyday photography of the ’80s. He was also very inspired by Nan Goldin and Diane Arbus.

MM: It all goes hand in hand with the production design and costumes. How were those created?

AS: The costume designer and the production designer and I worked together. I asked them to use specific colors: yellow, green and red. We knew that we had to invent some costumes. Their impact was very huge because the costume designer, when she listened to the song—the one when they wear black—she said, “I want to make them look like they are in the film Mad Max.” Also, the white suits for the guys, she took this from Vox, a famous music band from Poland. She wanted to make them look elegant, and sexy. We also used sequins because I wanted the costumes to be similar to fish scales. We also used a lot of mirrors underwater.

Olszańska, Preis and Mazurek in The Lure

MM: Would you say the film is about female empowerment? The mermaids are strong, and violent when they want revenge.

AS: In this story, they take revenge because they’re not [objects], but it’s also their nature, their wild nature. There was a documentary about a people who had lions and lived together with them, and after a few years, one of the lions ate them. That is the nature of the animal. You can’t treat an animal as a human being. You can’t join the world of animals and the world of humans together. It’s not possible to join these worlds.

MM: How did Polish audiences react to the film, given that this is not something they are used to seeing form a homegrown talent?

AS: The audience was very divided. At festivals, the loved the film, but our distributor promoted us as a Polish Chicago, and many people really hated it, because there was no mention of all of the horror elements or the mermaids. But now it’s being released in the U.S. with Janus Films, and they want to sell it as a mermaid movie, so we are very happy that we don’t have to hide the fish tails. MM

The Lure opened in theaters February 1, 2017 in New York and will open March 3, 2017 in Los Angeles, courtesy of Janus Films.

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