by Claire Denis
A review of the viewpoints of Claire Denis, director, scenarist, and referee of the 40th Toronto Canada International Film Festival in 2015, about delicacy and capacities of makeup art in “The Role of Negar” made by Ali Atshani, the Iranian director participating in this festival.
What you will learn from cinema makeup training by the makeup artist of “The Role of Negar”:
Cinema is a large and prosperous industry with an ever-increasing audience. People would like to watch films of different genres so that those films with better special effects and higher creativity and attractiveness will be more welcomed publicly.
Makeup is one of the most important factors for making a powerful film. Whenever you can use professional cinema makeup to create a breathtaking fight scene or you can use attractive techniques of cinema makeup to put your characters at different ages or even create fantastic and weird creatures, then you have created a masterpiece.
Thus, cinema makeup can be considered the boundary between the creation of reality and fantasy in films. This has given a major position to makeup, along with other specialties, in the cinema industry.
But I should tell you what the specialized cinema makeup is and which stages it includes.
Can one depict the path of creating a content-based cinema makeup relying on the preliminary knowledge of the cosmetology and makeup techniques? In fact, it doesn’t seem reasonable in general to answer such a question. Basically, cinema productions are produced in different genres, and each genre will bring about its own specific demands from the art of cinema makeup.
For example, to simulate a street conflict, you must have a high mastery in creating wounded or punch-crushed faces. On the contrary, to show a young girl like the character of “Negar” in “The Role of Negar” with a depressed face in a fully sensational scene, you have to step into other fields of cinema makeup, and such a capability can be observed in the scene of the protagonist’s confrontation with his fiancé, in which he tells to Negar that if his parents know about the fact that she has grown up in an orphanage, they might have an unexpected behavior and disagree with their marriage.
In the exemplary makeup by Faezeh Sadat Moosavi, you can see how Aylin Hoseini’s facial makeup has helped her act and mise-en-scene with a considerable potential. Of course, it should be noted that I always pursue the cinema productions of the Middle East, and Iranian filmmakers in particular and I’ve seen such masterpieces in some of their previous products.
Now merge different faces with the faces of Negar and her fiancé. As such, you will understand how wide and challenging the path of dramatic perception of makeup in a cinema production can be.
Why the makeup in Ali Atshani’s film is important?
Imagine that you want to direct a film. Different characters will be present from the beginning to the end of the film. These characters should demonstrate, through the representation of a biography, a stream of revolution representing the passage of time. These characters might be very young at the beginning of the film but later, as the narrative story of the film goes on, they ought to play their roles while demonstrating the old ages of the characters at the end of the film.
Imagine that you are watching a film in which the actors’ faces don’t change with the time during the film. In such a case, what will be your opinion about such a film? Can you understand and believe the passage of time in that film or not?
Now, I’m going to give the audience of your journal a few examples concerning the importance of using makeup in cinema. Consider this example in front of various scenes that might associate the film. For example, the main actor enters the house a family that are supposed to symbolically play the role of his family in the arranged marriage meeting.
Is Negar’s face at her entry into her so called “utopia” house the same as the face that she gradually gets while encountering disagreements with her fiancé, the face that, while struggling with herself, appears calmly at the boundary between the “truthfulness and honesty” and the “lie and concealment”?
Absolutely “No”. And this implies technical knowledge of the experienced makeup designer of the film and her proficiency in full recognition of the internal figure of the film characters.
There are lot of such examples in “The Role of Negar”. Almost every professional film must necessarily have such a proficiency and adeptness in creating purposeful and proper figures of the characters because a film must seem completely real and natural in order to accomplish representing the mood and atmosphere dominating that scene.
It can be clearly seen that the whole art in “The Role of Negar” has been created by powerful hands of the makeup designer of this film. And this is a good reason for the claim that Faezeh Sadat Moosavi has learned all important and major techniques and hints of this profession while studying and learning cinema makeup.
We should know that cinema makeup is important because it has the capability to create different scenes of a film on the projection screen in a space that is indeed a complete simulation of what we expect to see in reality. Also, prioritizing this crucial issue when producing short films and few-second films must be taken into consideration.
I had previously seen an interview with Mrs. Faezeh sadat Moosavi in which, while pointing out to her skills in photography, she had said: “In portrait photography, we attempted to eliminate defects of face by lighting while this can be achieved much more easily by makeup. In fact, in both of these fields, details, delicacies, and principles of aesthetics must be taken into consideration”.
In my opinion, she is right because a skillful and experienced makeup designer should have a good knowledge of lighting, photography, and lenses. I, as an actor and a director, believe that the profound point in the makeup design of “The Role of Negar” is the makeup design of the character of Aylin, the actor of the main role who should play an intuitional character with special mental abilities. This principle stood true for other actors, of course with slight difference at different times.
In such conditions, the creator of makeup must have very good interactions both with the actors and with the executives and her assistants in order that all makeups can occur in accordance with the designed characters intended by the director. In this film, Faezeh sadat Moosavi could prove her adeptness in the design of characters and psychological analysis.
I don’t know the condition in the cinema of Iran. But, in my country France, interactions between the director and the makeup artists start since the pre-production phase since, in some cases, the makeup designer’s opinions and ideas can be very effective and helpful in selecting the actors. The most relationships are certainly made with the director and, next to it, with the actors and photographer of the project.
In “The Role of Negar”, in addition to the face changes due to the passage of time, the characters had some changes in their faces resulting from waiting and confusion; therefore, the makeup of the characters was designed with regard to the urban lifestyle. Of course, in Negar’s face, the changes caused by her loneliness have been represented very well.
In this regard, it can be said that Faezeh sadat Moosavi, the makeup designer of “The Role of Negar”, has made her best to do the job in the best possible way. Of course, it must be noted that in some cinema or TV productions, the artificial appearance of the faces is due to the mistakes in selecting the actors, not due to the makeup artist’s inability or failure.
Since some faces are anatomically impossible to be metamorphosed by two-dimensional makeup, in such cases, it is better to select the actor with the makeup artist’s consultation and coordination. It must be accepted that makeup cannot make a miracle and is exposed to its own specific limitations.
At the end, in relation to the admired film named “The Role of Negar” and its potential makeup design that can be considered a technical and artistic achievement, I’d like to say: “The goal of cosmetology is to beatify, and the goal of makeup is to create a character, which might be in contrast to the beautification in its common and publicly used meaning. They are indeed two different issues with so many things in common. Every makeup designer might benefit from watching and analyzing the people’s faces but cannot achieve such a cognition through watching the makeup designs in Hollywood films since different countries and nations have different cultural grounds. Thus, calquing usually doesn’t lead to a desirable result. So, in order to avoid repetition, an artist in the world of makeup should strictly avoid type casting. This is what we have seen in the work of Faezeh Mousavi, the promising makeup designer of “The Role of Negar”.
Claire Denis, September 2015