Robert D. Krzykowski’s THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT centres on legendary American war hero Calvin Barr (Sam Elliott/Aidan Turner), who decades after assassinating Adolf Hitler is called upon to hunt down and kill the legendary Bigfoot. In conversation with FrightFest, Krzykowski discussed the act of telling a story that is an alternative perspective on genre cinema and the American hero.

 

FRIGHTFEST: A film can play differently to audiences around the world, and with the subject of World War II and the Bigfoot mythology, I assume this would be true of the reception to this film?

 

KRZYKOWSKI: It has been fascinating and touching to take this film around the world; meeting new audiences and new friends. Every audience has been a little different and bringing it to London was just incredibly unique. They were a wonderful audience, and then getting to talk to them afterwards I met a group of women that had come to see the film who were fans of Aidan Turner. They were so moved by what the movie actually wound up being that they had mascara running down their faces, and they were asking what the film meant to me? I was honest about what it means to me, not only to get to tell this story with the group of people we got to tell it  with but to bring it to all these different audiences around the world. And I was so moved that I started tearing up in front of them. That was special, and then to meet some members of the press and critics after the screening who were also in tears, I’ll never forget that. Like you say, it’s different everywhere we go, with varying energies to each audience, and I have learned an awful lot being on the road with this movie.

 

FRIGHTFEST: The response to cinema is interesting when you consider there are only so many archetypal stories…

 

KRZYKOWSKI: This one is very archetypal, and we are playing with those archetypes. It’s very much in the spirit of an American mythic but is trying to look at the types of American heroes we have been celebrating for a hundred or two hundred years, and look at that kind of a hero from a slightly different perspective. It’s somebody that doesn’t glorify their violence and is more changed by it, yet is still incredibly capable, and hasn’t entirely shed that thing which would lead them to a more centred life.

 

FRIGHTFEST: I’d describe encountering this film, from reading the synopsis and watching the trailer, to then seeing the film as a bit like peeling an onion. Each step of the way it feels as though it reveals something somewhat unexpected, in part because of the title that is reminiscent or suggestive of a particular type of cinema.

 

KRZYKOWSKI: There’s literally a mystery box in the film, and we would describe this film as a mystery box itself. You just described it as being like an onion with these layers that reveal themselves. I think in advertising the film and in all of us talking about it in interviews, we always tried to be extremely honest about what people can expect - that maybe it’s more of a character study, or more dramatic than they might imagine. It will also satisfy the more pulpy promises of its title, but maybe just not in the way that you expect.

 

We never wanted to mislead anybody into thinking it would be a totally different kind of movie, and for them to then leave the cinema disappointed. I know there is a particular section of the audience that no matter how much you tell them that it’s going to be different than what they expect, they still want that title to be a completely bonkers, silly and over the top exploitation movie. And this is just meant to show another side of what a genre movie can be. We were given the freedom to express that and so it was always the movie we were trying to make. We had this beautiful group of people come around to make that specific film, and I’m not sure they would have come for another version that was maybe more silly.

 

 

FRIGHTFEST: The American author Ray Bradbury said, "Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers, and they do pretty much the same thing." This is an idea that has been echoed by Stephen King, and you speak to your intention to show a different side of the genre, to what extent does genre shape the filmmaker’s vision and the filmmaker shape the language of the genre?

 

I think there is a little bit of both, and when you mention Ray Bradbury and Stephen King, or even someone like Sam Raimi who’s worked in very different worlds within genre cinema, and he’s also done the straight drama. Or even the Coen Brothers who have done that. You are always bringing to the movie things that you love, and hopefully changing them to make them new - of finding ways to surprise the audience by showing them things that they have seen in one direction before, but showing it from another perspective. So I think there is an interaction that is happening between the audience and the film, the filmmaker and the kinds of movies that they love, and then ultimately trying to do something new and unique.

 

In this case, if you look at the cast and the crew, it was a true collaboration. These are all storytellers in their own right, and every single person brought their personal gift to this story, and that’s what ultimately made this movie what it is. I brought a lot of things that I love to this movie, and some of those are a little unusual for a genre film - filmmakers like Hal Ashby, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich and Paul Thomas Anderson. There are a lot of filmmakers that don’t really have much to do with the genre that are making an impact on this story, and again you are just trying to do something that the audience will find unexpected, and will hopefully have a pleasant discovery.

 

THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT is on digital 15th April and DVD & Blu-ray 6th May.

 

Paul RIsker.

 

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