Sophia Loren, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench Nine

Sophia Loren, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench Nine


Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Fergie, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren
Director: Rob Marshall
Genre: Musical, Dance, Drama
Rated: M
Running Time: 119 minutes

Release Date: January 21st, 2010

Federico Fellini told me that the theme of his life and of his work was "dreams are the only reality."

Fergie, Kate Hudson & Nicole Kidman Nine Part 1

Cinema Italiano: Designing Nine
To allow movie audiences to experience Nine in a distinctly cinematic way, Rob Marshall wanted to invite them to inhabit an Italian movie, moving back and forth between the sleek, Mod streets of 60s Rome through which Guido zooms in his pale blue Fiat Alfa Spyder; and the dreamlike fantasies that erupt from Guido's imagination, evoking his lust and love, his imagination and frustration, his nostalgia and his yearning to find a path to his future.

To do this, Rob Marshall and his long-time partner, choreographer and producer John DeLuca, gathered around them many of the exceptional artists who helped them to create the kinetic beauty of Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha. They put together a team that includes two-time Academy Award® winning production designer John Myhre, two-time Academy Award® winning costume designer Colleen Atwood and Oscar® winning director of photography Dion Beebe.

The trio was excited to reunite-especially on a movie that's so in love with the emotional power and visceral beauty of the movies. Says Dion Beebe: "If the stage was our playground in Chicago, then moviemaking was our playground in Nine. We all wanted to exploit cinematic ideas to transform the Cinecitta soundstage into the stuff of a man's imagination."

Adds John Myhre: "Perhaps the only thing that could have been more exciting to us than a movie about moviemaking was the idea of a Rob Marshall musical about moviemaking. All Rob Marshall had to tell us was, 'there has to be a transformation, the audience has to see Guido's world transform,' and immediately big ideas were being put about."

The team split the design elements into two distinct realms: Guido's complicated real life in Rome, as well at the luxe health spa that he hopes in vain will be his hideaway; and his very active fantasy life. The latter all takes place on a half-built Cinecitta soundstage-the source of Guido's creative anxiety-that morphs into different visual worlds.

John Myhre explains: "We decided that when we first see the soundstage it had to be a real set-so we used H Stage at Shepperton Studios in England, which was an excellent match for Fellini's historic Stage 5 at Cinecitta in Rome. Rob Marshall always wanted us to emphasise that this stage is the core of Guido's life, where he makes it or breaks it. The set was designed as you would design a theatre set; all the lighting had to be figured out and the space needed for the dancers. But the biggest challenge was that the stage had to transform ten different times, sometimes overnight, into many different imaginative worlds-it becomes the Follies Bergere, it becomes a beach, a 1960s discotheque, a piazza in Rome, and more-and the challenge of creating each of those worlds was fantastic."

All of this pushed the design team's inventiveness to the very edge. "Each of the facades was designed so it could work for a specific number but could also be adapted for others," John Myrhe explains.

Some of the dance sequences also required extensive rigging. "For the number with Penélope Cruz asCarla, Rob Marshall wanted her to slide down a huge, 80-foot long, pink draper," the designer recalls.
"Technically, it was very challenging to do this sot that it would be safe for her to perform over and over again. Ultimately, we used a conveyor belt that becomes part of the pink drape and allows he to fall out onto an eight-foot mirror in the middle of the dance."

When it came to the film's lush, sensual cinematography, Dion Beebe took his initial inspiration from the deeply personal tone and vibrant aesthetic of Italian cinema-especially its heyday in the 1960s when Italy produced a chain of history-making auteurs, from Fellini to Antonioni to Pasolini and Bertolucci-but crafted the film's own individual style from there. "Italian cinema has always played a dominant place in my love of movies," notes Dion Beebe, "and it was always on our minds. Rob Marshall and I looked at a lot of films but we never set out to emulate Fellini. We made a pointed decision not to re-make his work. There are references to it. There's homage. But I think Nine is very much, visually and stylistically, in its own musical genre. It combines the cinematic and the theatrical and those elements always seem to be come together magically when you're working with Rob Marshall."

From the start, Dion Beebe and Rob Marshall engaged in complex discussions about how to make this new version of Nine involve the audience through innovative lighting and fluid camera movement. Dion Beebe recalls: "We had long conversations about how we would shoot and light the production numbers. With the lighting, just as we did on Chicago, we incorporated a lot of theatrical elements to really define the musical numbers as fantasies taking place in an alternate world. We were always looking for those punctuation moments where the stage transforms into pure fantasia."

They were also looking for original ways to do that multiple times. "Since we had a space that we had to transform again and again and again," he emphasises, "we had to figure out how to keep it exciting each time without ever feeling like we were repeating ourselves. A big part of that was creating transitions that become part of the dramatic storytelling."

Lighting was key, but so too was kinetic camera work. "Camera movement has always been important for Rob Marshall and myself in terms of shooting musical numbers," Dion Beebe states, "and capturing all the movement in the choreography. Rob Marshall likes to run the number all the way through and that's important for the artists and the dancers, to build up pace and rhythm, but we also have to bring it alive for the camera. The use of dollies, cranes and tracks on these sets was essential, but it had to be done without interrupting the flow of the number and song."

Like Dion Beebe, costume designer Colleen Atwood began her creative process with the sexy, glamorous Mod looks of 60s Italian cinema, but riffed on her own fantasy interpretation of that look. "We did watch a lot of Italian cinema," she explains, "which certainly influenced the style. But there's also a hyper-reality to the world of Nine, so we took out all the things that weren't as visually interesting from that world and left only the most striking elements."

Colleen Atwood's costumes are also created in direct response to the choreography, and to the movements the actors' bodies had to make. "Before I design any costumes, I watch what Rob Marshall and John Myhre have choreographed and the costumes are very, very well thought out ahead to respond to the needs of the number," she says. "The clothes have to fit very, very precisely which meant working closely with our large female cast."

As for Daniel Day-Lewis's outfits, Colleen Atwood recalls: "Daniel Day-Lewis and I spent a day together early on and we went shopping to get a feeling for Guido-his suit, his shoes, his style. We ended up with a black silk suit that has a grace to it, a soft, iconic feeling. The tricky part with Guido is that clothes aren't what this character is thinking about, but they still exude a certain beauty his character seeks."

An unabashedly dazzling beauty is imbued in the rainbow array of ladies' costumes that Colleen Atwood created, ranging from showgirl leotards to elegant evening gowns to slinky go-go outfits as she dressed every iconic incarnation of femiNine energy, from starlets to prostitutes to a costume designer not unlike herself.

In the process, she used over 1,000,000 crystallised Swarovski Elements™ to adorn 36 costumes. Nine different applications of crystal in 31 styles and 22 different colors were used to literally allow the characters of Nine to shine. Nadja Swarovski, Vice President of International Communication, says, "Swarovski is thrilled to have collaborated with Colleen Atwood on the showstopping costumes of Nine. It is an honor for the outstanding cast to be embellished with our crystal and Colleen Atwood's artistry as a costume designer is perfectly showcased in these sparkling creations."

Weaving in with Colleen Atwood's array of costumes is the handiwork of Oscar® winning Hair and Make-Up Designer, Peter King. Peter King had never worked with Rob Marshall previously, but he instantly caught the tone Rob Marshall was after. "The challenge on this film was getting that feel for the 60s period while absolutely never being held back by it," he explains.

Peter King continues: "Rob Marshall was very specific that he wanted to reflect the 'New Wave 'look-the Brigitte Bardot, Claudia Cardinale look. It's a tough look, not a perfect look. It's a 'just out of bed' look that we felt was far sexier an image than the stiff formal look of England and America at the time. We didn't emulate any particular film but looked at lots of images for inspiration. We went through hundreds of looks until we arrived at the right one for each particular character. Of course, what you are always trying to achieve in any film is to make it look as though you've done no work at all."

After shooting on soundstages in London, the cast and crew regrouped to shoot where Fellini's films were born: in Rome's Cinecitta Studios, as well as at such iconic Italian movie locations as the Piazza del Popolo, in the Via Veneto, and down the coast, in the town of Anzio.

Everyone was inspired by the atmosphere at Cinecitta, one of the world's most historic motion picture studios. Originally founded in 1936 by the dictator Benito Mussolini for propaganda purposes (under the slogan "cinema is the most powerful weapon"), the studio would flourish after the war, becoming home to numerous classic films, among them Quo Vadis, Ben Hur, Cleopatra, The GodFather III, The English Patient and Gangs of New York.

All the great names of Italian cinema became intimately familiar with the terracotta buildings in the treelined avenues around the massive sound stages. By the 1950s and 1960s Rome had become "Hollywood on the Tiber," attracting the world's most prestigious filmmakers to the Via Tuscolana. "For anyone who loves film, shooting at Cinecitta is a thrill," says John Myhre. "Just going in the gates for the first time was a life changing experience. It's like no other studio in the world. You feel you're going back into history, with these ancient terracotta buildings, stepping into the heyday of 1960s. We filmed at the front gate, doing a little work to get it back to the way it once look. And they also allowed us to repaint stage 5 to get it back to the way it once was, which was exciting."

Once in Rome, the production took advantage of the city's vast array of picture-perfect cinematic locations. "We wanted to capture the Rome of La Dolce Vita," explains John Myrhe. "We filmed on the Via Veneto, at the Forum and the Coliseum."

The production also headed an hour south to the seaside town of Anzio-the scene of the Allied Landings during WWII-where they shot in a former casino recalling the grandeur of the past, with spectacular terraces overlooking the sea. The building provided several important locations for Nine: it was the Roman baths for a fantasy sequence between Guido Contini and a Cardinal; it was the busy location production office for Italia; it was the restaurant where a complicated dinner party was filmed; and it was the entrance and lobby of the hotel spa where Guido seeks refuge to no avail.

Filming concluded in the hilltop village of Sutri, an hour outside Rome, where two long, cold night shoots with Daniel Day-Lewis and Nicole Kidman completed a sequence that started with a song performed on H Stage at Shepperton Studios back in England.

With production completed, much of the film's most intense work still lay ahead as Rob Marshall collaborated with the editing team of Oscar® winner Claire Simpson (Platoon, The Reader) and Emmy-nominated Wyatt Smith (Tony Bennett: An American Classic) in post production.

Suddenly, all the film's many artistic elements came together as one seamless fabric. Sums up producer Platt: "Rob Marshall demands the best from everyone around him. He's so meticulous and has an eye for every single detail. That same is true for John De Luca in the choreography, for Dion Beebe in his cinematography, for John Myhre's sets, Colleen Atwood's costumes and Simpson and Smith's editing.

And of course that feeling permeated the cast. Throughout, there was this symbiotic relationship where all of our colleagues were demanded to their best, wanted to do their best and did do their best because the level of the story was that good. As Guido Contini says, you never know what a film will become.

The cameras, the actors, the designers, the editors all do their thing, but the magic really happens when you put it in front of an audience."