tv Charlie Rose PBS January 6, 2016 12:00am-1:01am PST
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin this evening looking at the implications of the conflict between saudi arabia and iran. we talked to philip gordon, wendy sherman, vali nasr and david sanger. >> i think we're reaching a point that we need to get tough with the saudis, and we actually have to assert more united states interest in iraq and syria vis-a-vis i.s.i.s. and to demand to the saudis like we demand of many other allies around the world that they cannot wreck our policies and we have certain expectations of them. >> rose: we conclude this evening with the director of the film "carol," todd haynes. >> it reminded me of, maybe in ways i hadn't been reminded in years, what it feels like to be falling in love with somebody, to be in the dark, to not know where you stand, to be reading
the signs, you know, that the other person is giving you and trying to discern your fate or whether this is going to happen. and so i think there is just something beyond the fact that it's a lesbian love story set at this very specific time. historically, it reminds you about being in love and the vulnerability of that position. >> rose: the saudi arabia and iran conflict and the director todd haynes, when we continue. >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by the following: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose.
>> rose: we begin this evening with the middle east and the tensions fueling the sunni-shia divide. kuwait became the fifth country to cut or downgrade diplomatic ties with iran. a fallout triggered by riyadh's decision to execute a prominent shia clerk last week. in response, protesters attacked the saudi embassy in tehran saturday. joining me from baltimore, vali nasr, dean of johns hopkins school of advanced international studies, in washington, wendy sherman, fellow at the harvard kennedy school. previously, she held the role of united states acting depp secretary of state and leading negotiate in the nuclear deal with iran. david sanger from washington, nimmed national security -- "new york times" national security correspondent and
philip gordon, senior fellow at the council on foreign relations. i am pleased to have them all on this program. philip gordon, where are we? >> in a situation that's more difficult than three or four days ago. >> rose: because more people got involved or nobody seems to be backing down? >> no, key to the crises we face in the middle east is the split not just between sunni and shia but between saudi arabia and iran. that rainfall riis driving the conflict in syria, yemen, the saudi policy on oil, driving executions and so many other things in the region. a prerequisite to deal with so many conflicts is somehow not to have a love fest in the countries but some form of tolerance. you had a process in vienna to get the guys to the table for the first time that led to a sliver of hope to bridge the gap and bring this terrible war to an end and with the execution of
the shia clerk, burning of the embassy, relations and the rallying cry on both sides, the tensions are impairs baited and sets back hope for some diplomatic cooperation. >> first of all, it might overstate the degree. the gaps were big and we knew this was a problem. >> rose: but there was some hope. >> there was some hope. it was still a long shot. i don't think this is by accident, charlie. it's not as if the saudis did this and are now saying, you know, my goodness, this is set back to diplomatic process. i think you have to conclude that they did it quite deliberately and to a degree it was a message to the united states and the other players in this business. if you thought we were on the verge of compromising with iran or looking for confession, think again, because you're not and you're going to have to choose sides. >> rose: they were sending a message. >> i think they were sending a lot of messages. >> rose: how do you think the
iranians saw this. >> i think phil's analysis is a pretty good one, except i would say the real problem here is i.s.i.l was benefiting the most from the split and this rivalry. we have staffan de mistura, the u.n. envoy who said saudi arabia still wants to proceed with the process that started in vienna to see if a peaceful resolution could come following the december agreement by the u.n. security council. i think iran has escalated this situation. iran is playing a destabilizing role in the region, there is no doubt about that. but iran, if they had a nuclear weapon, would be even a worse actor in the region. so even though the saudis weren't thrilled with the nuclear agreement, they
understood iran with a nuclear weapon woul would not be good. iran has elections coming up in late february both for their parliament and for what is called the council of experts that, in fact, will decide the successor to the current supreme leader. so they've got a lot at stake. there are hard liners of hard liners in iran. we tend to think of iran as a monolithic country, but they have real politics. none of them are particularly reformist in our terminology, but there are more reformists than the hardliners, even if there are hardliners of hardliners. >> rose: you can see that in the tone of the ayatollah versus president rouhani. >> absolutely. and president rouhani has a lot at stake in this election. he's about to implement a plan where iran will ship out enriched uranium, take center
funerals offline, allow the international atomic energy agency to verify what's going on, making sure their program is an exclusively peaceful program and they will never have a nuclear weapon. then he thinks they will get sanctions relief which will carry them through this february 26 election so that the less hardline faction of the hardliners will give sway in tehran. but the politics are very guilt. -- very difficult. the only slight slivers of hope in the incredibly intense situation, a lot going on behind the scenes, talk going on. people want to deescalate the situation. we want to look at the gulf cooperating council which will meet saturday and see whether they take a step back or further accelerate the problems here, but at the end of this month, staffan de mistura wants to bring everybody together to try to make peace in syria, and that's looking pretty tough at
the moment. >> rose: i want to get to sunni-shia understanding from vali, but first dpaifd you uh had a peace in the times that said the obama administration monday confronted the fundamental contradiction in increasingly tense relationship with saudi arabia. explain. >> well, charlie, the dynamic you've just heard from phil and wendy has played out at a time when the saudis are quite concerned the nuclear deal between the u.s., european partners, russia, china, iran, means there is some kind of fundamental reassessment. they understand that many in the administration think that, over the long term, iran might well be a more natural ally with the united states than saudi arabia and the other members of the gulf council. the administration has gone to great lengths to try to convince
the saudis that isn't the case. president obama had the saudis and other arab nations to camp david back in the fall, a big arms sale and a relationship to help them build up their defenses. but fundamentally, you have seen, during the obama administration, i think, a separation of the u.s.-saudi relationship. partly that's because, with the united states pumping out as much oil as it does, there is not the kind of dependency on the oil front, the economic front that there was, but there is a big dependency on the diplomatic front. and secretary kerry knows that getting the deal together in syria, both parts of it, the cease fire and the broader political arrangement is a very long shot, as phil said before, depend on having the saudis and the iranians at the table, both of them working in roughly the
same direction. i think the saudis who never believed that this was going to happen together basically were sending a very large message to the u.s. that said if you're not going to crack down on iranian expansionism in the region, we will, and i think that was a lot of what was behind the execution of the shia cleric. >> rose: vali, explain to us, what is the basic split between shia and sunni? we know how they line up in terms of iran being shia and saudi arabia and jordan and others being essentially sunni and iraq being shia. >> there are two different interpretations of islam and the roots of it goes back in long term in history, but in a region that cares a lot about religion, it matters which sect you follow. but in the contemporary sense,
this is not really about shia sunni. this is purely about saudi arabia and iran and also about the ideology of sunni extremism which we see in i.s.i.s. which is highly intolerant of any interpretation other than the one they put forward and that actually puts the shiites outside the pale of islam. you have a belief that is roughly divided evenly between shias and sunnis, and that makes sectarianism very relevant to the rivalry between iran and saudi arabia. but let me put it this way -- this crisis was created by saudi arabia. i agree with phil, this was done very deliberately. it came after a set of events. first of all you had an american shia victory in ramadi defeating i.s.i.s. in the region, you had the inclusion of iran in the vienna process which is a first. you also had the first stage of the implementation of the nuclear deal.
and as david said, these are worrying issues for saudi arabia. what i think is very clear is saudi arabia sees an advantage in playing the sectarian card. the numbers game in the larger muslim board is on their side. if sunnis identify as sunni and shia identifies as shia, saudis win against iran. it limits iran's reach in the region and influence in the world. domestically, the saudis can tell their own population at a time of succession crisis, low oil prices, economic prosperity that we are under the eastern province and they're swearing nerns through a deal and alliance in iraq and saudi arabia can essentially have a rally to the flag domestically and with the sunnis in the region it diverts
attention from fightin fight i.o fighting iraq. this is a strategy on the part of saudi arabia. it serves their interests. it doesn't serve the united states' interest. >> rose: does this show we have less influence with the saudis than we thought? they clearly knew saudis were thinking about this, did they not? >> well, the united states government has said outright they had warned the saudis about the execution or potential execution of nimr al-nimr. not only were those ignored, charlie, but after the executions happened, the u.s. embassy in riyadh had a very difficult time getting an understanding from the saudis about who had been executed. so this is not exactly a system in which communication is moving very smoothly with the united states. now, that could be because they were trying to keep the u.s. in the dark. it could also be that these
executions got caught up and we don't know -- or at least i don't know the answer to this -- got caught up in the succession battles phil was just referring to. you've got a very different generation of saudi leaders coming up. >> the internal politics in both of these countries, iran and saudi arabia, are very complex right now, and they're all taking place in the context of a world economy that is shaking. normally when we have these middle east blowups, crises, the price of oil skyrockets. that won't happen now. demand is too low. china's economy slowed down as we saw from the opening of our own stock market. so the whole context for this particular act in this very tough play is different than in the past. so even though everyone's been very concerned that iran is going to make tons of money off the nuclear deal, in fact, in recent days, they've said their production of oil will only be able to meet the demand that's
out there and we know that demand is very low. same in saudi arabia where, for the first time, they are looking at their budget, they are looking at what they can give to the people in their country. so in both of these countries, there is a need toe rally the troops, both the civilian and the military, to the self-interest of that country, and we see that the larger context is more complicated. the united arab emirates called back its ambassador but did not end diplomatic relations because a lot of iranian trade goes through the port of dubai. so this is going to be a very complex environment and the only, only sliver of optimism here is i think it is not in the self-interest of either iran or saudi arabia to have this go to the point of war, and they have both through channels tried to ask for help to get this to deescalate. whether that will occur, given that as was pointed out now shia
protests in bahrain and other parts of the region remains to be vein. >> rose: vali. i'm not sure that the saudis are not interested in escalating this further. they've shown in yemen they're capable of pushing boundaries and i think they have an attitude they can throw a hand grenade and the united states will essentially step in and iran's tail is in the door now with a nuclear deal and it might not have as much room to maneuver and, as i said, it's to saudi arabia's advantage right now to rally the sunnis across the region and within the kingdom to the flag. but to follow up on what david was saying, i actually don't think our policy approach with saudi arabia is appropriate for where the relationship is. our muscle memory in dealing with saudi arabia is to give them a wide berth and try to constantly reassure them. in fact the word in washington nowadays is we have to keep reassuring saudi arabia. well, you know, saudis may take
the reassurance as the wrong signal. when we insided yemen without proper consultation, the u.s. started a major war that can prove to be catastrophic for the united states and the region, we basically adopted a policy of giving the benefit of the doubt, putting no pressure on them to come up with an exit strategy and constantly saying we need to reassure them because we signed a nuclear deal with iran. i think we're reaching a point where we need to get tough with the saudis and have to assert more to have the united states' interest in iraq and syria vis-a-vis i.s.i.s. and demand to the saudis like many other allies around the world that they cannot wreck or torpedo our policies and that we have certain expectations of them. >> that's why, indeed, the people who benefit the most here are i.s.i.l, and why a bold and
thorough strategy with lots of different prongs to that strategy has to be carried out. i think that's what the president is trying to do. that's what's being advocated by others as well, and that's really where the focus has to be and, somehow or another, to get everybody in the region to pull in the same direction we thought, we were headed there with the unsker a few days ago in december, but we seem to be going a little bit off the rails now. >> wendy makes a very good point there is a need here for a very big, bold strategy, but certainly when you press american officials on the record, the administration was not willing to say anything yesterday that was even mildly critical of the sawed requests other than they hope they will respect human rights in the future. in fact, they were more critical of the iranians for the outburst that resulted in the burning of the embassy and, obviously, the u.s. has a lot of reasons to be quite concerned about infringements in the sovereignty of an embassy, than they were about the execution of
mr. al-nimr, and i think that reflected this, as vali called it, muscle memory, that all you do is sit back and reassure the saudis at every step. >> so i think this issue all three of my colleagues raised is now firmly on the table because we have -- >> rose: and the issue is? the issue is the tradition, the habit. >> rose: the history of our relationship with saudi arabia? >> exactly. trying to reassure the saudis, underscore solidarity, being reluctant to raise differences. the reality in the past couple of years is we have had very real differences on egypt and a saudi point of view. >> rose: and the red line. egypt through mubarak under the bus is their perception. syria we failed to enforce. talks with iran, nuclear deal frees up assets. and that's the context of what we're seeing now. people mentioned yemen and the execution of al-nimr.
both of those are saudi response. they say you want to take your policies based on what is your national interest and just inform them? we'll do the same. we'll intervene in yemen and give you 24 hours notice. we'll execute this cleric, give you 24 hours notice. so its sends a message. vali and others are right, we have tried to double down on assurance, camp david, et cetera, but the message that came back is that's not enough and is not working. >> rose: it seems from observation of the kind of experience you all have is you're looking at a country thinking about its own survival and looking at how unstable the region is and saying could we be next? it knows what a tight group of people the royal family controls the country and survival is in their thoughts as much as what is our foreign policy in the
region. >> and when survival is at stake, people are willing to do big and bold things and that's what we're seeing. >> rose: if their survival is at stake, isn't the relationship with the united states very important? aren't we their best friends? >> of course, it's important, and they still know and understand that. but they don't see the threat to the cingsdum as primarily some external invasion where the united states can protect them. that defense relationship already exists, the saddam-like invasion of kuwait, we give them weapons, we're there. that's not the issue. >> rose: the issue is? they think their survival is threatened from iranian expansion i'm. iran support for houthis in yemen. the assad regime massacring sunnis and leading them to radicalism and joining i.s.i.s., iran meddling with their shia population at them, those are all the things that the u.s. missile defense cooperation in the world won't deal with, and that gets to the question of
reassurance, what would we have to do to reassure them on that score? >> let me say that reassurance, i agree with wendy's points on how to handle the saudis, but the reality is many things are now fundamentally against the saudis. the price of oil may not come back. the united states made a decision under this president that it views its relationship with asia perhaps as more important tha with the middle et and decided to distance itself. when mubarak started talking with iran the idea is they weren't stable. iran is now in a hard line position but potentially that might change down the road. so the saudis are on a wrong
sort of strategic bend here. there is a lot of big things against them. we cannot basically reassure them saudi arabia 20 years from now will be strategically important to the united states. all the signals they're getting from us, reading david's colleagues in the "new york times," all indicate the united states down the road will care less about saudi arabia, that we don't see our values in line, we don't need their oil, w and i don't think any measure of reainsurance will help them. we have to prepare ourselves for managing a harder landing for saudi arabia going forward in this region. >> rose: all of that is true. we don't like a lot of things the royal family does in saudi arabia, yet we have this deep fear of iran's behavior. >> absolutely, and for good reason. iran is a very strong supporter of state-sponsored terrorism. iran has american citizens in
detention. they have destabilized the region by their actions because of their particular self-interests. we thought that iran with a nuclear weapon would be even worse, which is why we worked so hard to get the joint comprehensive plan of action, but it didn't for one instant set aside all the concerns we had about iran that are legitimate concerns that saudi arabia has and the other gulf states have. what we haven't talked about here in this discussion, which is fascinating about how sidelined its gotten, already, is what's happening in syria, and about what's happening with i.s.i.l. in fact, as i said at the beginning and repeat because it's so critical, i.s.i.l is what we have to keep focused on. i think this is not in russia's interest for there to be a blog between iran and saudi arabia because russia understand iran and saudi arabia have to at least tolerate each other because it's in their self
interest i.s.i.l not take over not only iraq and syria but further into the middle east. so i think there is a lot at stake here. i think there is a lot more to play out here, and there are a loft actors whose interests should be aligned here and the question is will they understand that they are. >> rose: are the saudis fully on board in the fight against i.s.i.s.? are they doing everything that they could do to get fellow sunnis engaged in iraq and in syria? >> i don't think so. what i would say about that is saudi arabia understands that i.s.i.s. is a threat to saudi arabia. that's a good thing and they're in many ways a partner with us. >> rose: even though it's sunni-sunni. >> even though. they're a partner and work with us and understand it threatens them because i.s.i.s. threatens the kingdom, make no mistake. the problem is it's not their top priority. we all have a lot of different adversaries and rivalries in the
middle east but we rank them differently. for the saudis, iran is the top three, and then you get assayed because of iran and then you get i.s.i.s. so when they look at what they're doing in syria and elsewhere, sure they want to fight against i.s.i.s., but they're more tolerant of islamists and extremists groups because they're fighting assad and iran, and, so, the problem is that it's just not at the top of their priority list. >> rose: david and valley, say what you want following up with phil. then my question is, are we seeing within the american foreign policy, whether the national security council or the state department or the pentagon competing factions as to what we ought to be doing having to do with this crisis? >> let me follow up on what phil said. >> rose: of course. i think it's true saudi arabia is very worried about i.s.i.s.'s threat to the
kingdom. saudi arabia boasts the most i.s.i.s. tweets in the world and a large number of their population is sympathetic to i.s.i.s. saudi arabia doesn't want i.s.i.s. in the kingdom. but when it comes to what i.s.i.s. is doing in iraq and syria, i.s.i.s. is serving saudi arabia's regional strategy, which is to roll back shia gains, detain iran and defeat iran and iran's proxy. so there is a sort of ambiguity in saudi arabia's policy toward i.s.i.s. secondly, you cannot ramp up sectarianism and sunni rejection of shias without playing into i.s.i.s.'s narrative. finally, i think, you know, wendy raised some very important issues about what the united states ought to do. i think one of the challenges is that, in iraq, the fight against i.s.i.s. requires the iraqi government which is the shia government which is backed by iran which, two cooperate with the united states in this fight.
the victory in ramadi was an american-iraqi-shia alliance that achieved this. now, abadi is facing unhappiness on his own street, demonstrations against saudi arabia demanded the saudi embassy be shot down and other politicians like nouri al-maliki are ramping up, texs to the execution. i think iraq is in a weak point. it's question how abadi can actually move on the gains in ramadi and bring some kind of a political sentiment and engage the sunnis in iraq, in a partnership that we're demanding of him when, actually, the sectarian risk is opening up further. >> on the point phil and vali were making about the different priorities, you saw in how the saudis acted and, last year, they jointed the bombing of i.s.i.s. in some degree in syria, but as soon as they got involved in yemen, all of the
military assets went in that direction, same thing for the u.a.e. so they haven't really been at the forefront of the military part of the battle. secretary kerry did get them involved in trying to organize the sunni rebel groups in syria to go negotiate with assad later this month, but it's not clear that the saudis are putting much real energy into that, and what they will tell you privately is they don't think it's going to work. that then gets you to your question, charlie, which is is there debate within the administration? and there certainly was. i mean, you've heard this just in the differences between what secretary clinton has said that she advocated including safe zones, "no fly" zones, that debate has never really been resolved in the administration and is coming back again. it may be too late at this point to change that strategy, but i think partly it's that the
administration never stopped arguing within itself. >> the saudi nightmare is what's hinted at in that article which is that the europeans and then the united states start to decide that, you know what? after all, we can do better business with iran. that's what they're most afraid of in the nuclear deal. obviously, they don't want to see iran get a nuclear weapon, but their real concern is this is more than we said. this was a first step toward a long and beautiful relationship and the risk now is that could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. if they write us off and do things that alienate european public opinion, the u.s., we talked about policy options here, then you do get people starting to question at alliance with saudi arabia. so i think they do have to be careful about bringing about -- i don't think it's the case that we're now courting iran in some way. there are all sorts of reasons why for the foreseeable future we're going to continue to have a hugely troubled relationship
with iran. >> absolutely. >> rose: wendy can i ask one last question before we go? >> sure. >> rose: are you satisfied with how the nuclear deal has taken place over the last month? have the iranians lived up to most of what we expected of them? >> it appears, and i'm not inside the administration anymore, but it appears that iran is, in fact, taking all the steps that are required. we will only know that when the international atomic energy verifies that all those steps have been taken and tells all of us that they have, indeed, done that, that they have shipped out anything over 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium. they would not call it dismapt ling, they would say setting aside their center funerals, but dismantling their center funerals and taking other steps, putting monitoring measures in place that are quite onerous on
them. so it appears everything is moving forward. we haven't talked about the ba listing missile concerns we have or missile concerns. you're clearly seeing the hardliners talking about that about advance ad missiles underground. i expect sanctions will be growght to bear. there are a lot of legalities around doing that. it doesn't mean iran will stop its behavior. they violated the missile sanctions and u.n. security council resolutions with impunity for years now. i expect them to continue to do the same, but we have to call them on it and sanction tell me rose: thank you, wendy sherman. also in wanted david sanger and in baltimore vali nasr and in new york wit with me, philip go. thank you all very much. the story continues. back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: "carol" is the new film from director todd haynes. it is based on patricia
highsmith's 1952 novel "the price of salt." cate blanchett and rooney mara star in the film that began in the 1950s. here's the trailer for the film. >> dearest, there are no accidents and no explanation i offer that will satisfy you. >> i like the hat. you seek resolutions because you're young, but you will understand this one day. >> when do i have time to be in love? >> you're always the most beautiful woman in the room. >> carol -- tell me you know what you're doing? >> i never did.
she's changed. still my wife. i can't help you with that. shouldn't be like this. know it. everything comes full circle. we gave each other the most breath taking of gifts. >> rose: "carol" is nominated for five golden globe awards including best director and best drama. joining me is the film director todd haynes. i am pleased to have him here at
the table for the first time. welcome. >> thank you so much. >> rose: tell me how you found the property in the story. >> this one like most my other films sort of found me. it's the only film i haven't written or developed myself. but i heard about it. i got wind of it from sandy powell, the amazing costume designer i worked with twice before. and i know elizabeth carlsen extremely we, the producer, the most hands-on producer for "carol." she had been developing it many years. there were producers on it before elizabeth came on. phillis nagy has been attached to it for almost 15 years. so it came to me when my schedule opened up. cate blanchett was already attached. i had worked with cate previously. they said, todd, we think
christine ba shone who i work with on all my films is a dear friend o of elizabeth and said, todd, would you take a look at it and i did. most of my dearest, formative relationships are with gay women, and i didn't now how they felt to their shock and dismay. i took the script and novel. i went to the oregon coast. i read the novel and was hooked. >> rose: tell me about patricia highsmith who wrote it under a pseudonym. >> yes. well, this novel for patricia highsmith -- and i hardly consider myself an expert on highsmith when i read it -- but this is the only novel that falls out side the crime story
she's known for and i think that's why i hadn't heard of it. >> rose: set in the '50s. yes, second novel after "strangers on a train," her debut she sold to alfred hitchcock in her early 20s, and this novel is the most personal, you know, material that she ever really approached in her writing. and she was on a role. she was very successful. random house had published "strangers on a train" and she wrote this and none of the major publishers would touch it. >> rose: too controversial. too controversial. she was headed for a serious, mainstream career and this would have been a major challenge to that. and, so, she was sort of recommended that -- by a small publisher that did lesbian
fiction, and they wanted to do it, and she said, you could probably do it under a pseudonym and she did. it's called "the price of salt" is the novel it's based on. it really stands outside the tradition of lesbian fiction in that it doesn't end piew punitiy with a punishment, with acquiescence, with a heterosexual corrective ending or a san tar yum or a suicide. so it became a beloved piece of fiction for years. and patricia highsmith went on to continue to write prolifically. all the ripley books among in great other books. finally, in the '80s, before
she died, they published "the price of salt" and i think that was when it was republished as "carol." >"carol." cate blanchett was already attached. carlton had already gone to cate. it was a no brainer stew what was the attraction for her? >> for cate? >> rose: yeah. i think she felt this was a beautiful piece of writing, the novel. it reminded me of, maybe in ways i hadn't been reminded in years, what it feels like to be falling in love with somebody, to be in the dark, to not know where you stand, to be reading the signs, you know, that the other person is giving you and trying to discern your fate or whether this is going to happen. and so i think there is just something beyond the fact that it's this lesbian love story set
at this very specific time. historically, it just reminds you about being in love and the vulnerability of that position. so i know that all of those things were factors for cate. but -- >> rose: so cate was in and then rooney. >> i cast rooney after i got on board, yeah. >> rose: because? well, i had been an admirer of rooney's work from pretty much the beginning. i think i've seen most of her major roles in films, and i always felt she was so -- she had this ability to underplay and to know -- she just seemed to understand the scale of the medium of film in a way i found remarkable for somebody her age. i think it takes tremendous confidence and intelligence to know how little can actually -- how little a gesture can convey
emotion and attach an audience's interest to what you're doing and who you are as a character. yet, she was playing these bold-bodied characters, the girl with the dragon tattoo. >> rose: long way from a girl with a dragon tattoo. >> exactly. and i thought, wow, what if she played someone very ordinary. >> rose: she took it right away? >> this project came to her before i was attached and she passed. it was right after the girl with the dragon tattoo and she said she wasn't in the head space for it and that was a huge and emotional and intense experience for her and then i think, you know, films need sort of certain conditions, i guess, to feel like they're viable. so i became the director attached and cate was attached. >> rose: the book is told from
therese's standpoint and this is told from both their perspectives. >> yes. i felt the point of view was still an organizing principle in my mind for how to approach it in that i still feel you're rooted in therese's experience more than carol's and that you were introduced to carol very much through the, yo you know, perceptions of therese. and the distortions and, you know, the anxiety of being in the presence of this older, quite formidable woman and not knowing, you know, what it means, if the feelings were returned. >> rose: was it innocence for her? >> for therese? yeah. >> rose: or just age difference and life experience? >> i think it's all of it. and i think what was so
remarkable about the novel is that it remind you of the instability that one feels when you're beginning to attach desire to a certain person and that kind of tunnel you enter where you don't foe what anything means and yet everything is a sign to be decoded, you know. >> rose: yes. ight? >> rose: yes. but what's so lovely about the novel is that -- and, so, you always feel like you're inventing love. >> rose: it's true about all relationships. >> it's true about all relationships. but in this case, they also kind of were, because it was one of the least represented forms. >> rose: there is also a met more fuss in her because -- it's a metamorphosis for her, too, because she becomes a much more interesting character.
>> she becomes a person that's in folk and at first she's somebody who i think is uncoal uncollated. she has a boyfriend. she accepts the amorous attention of another guy. then she's immediately interested in this older woman and not knowing what that means, if there is even a word for it, so she's kind of all over the place. and she says, i can't take pictures of people, initially, and that even that's a process where she gets comfortable shooting the human subject -- putting the human subject in her work, in her frames. >> rose: take a look, this is where the two of them, this is clip two where the two of them have lunch together. here it is. >> thank you. enjoy. i'm starved. bon appeétit.
what did you do on sunday? >> oh, nothing in particular. what do you do? >> nothing, lately. maybe you would like to come visit me some time. you're welcome. at least there is pretty country around where i live. would you like to come visit me this sunday? >> yes. what a strange girl you are. y? in space. ♪ >> rose: how do actors influence shooting a scene like that? >> both kat cate and rooney talk about this screen being a good memory of this shoot, low-budget, tight, fast, we were
running around a lot and we spent almost a day on the scene. we need that attention. it's a long, important scene, and it's really just three angles, three sides on each of the actors, but it meant we could all focus, we could all be in one location. we shot it in cincinnati, ohio. we could all just be there and really look at the details and the silences, you know, and the awkward -- you were mentioning how we hold on certain shots. when the topic changes, usually i think people want to cut -- also with great actors like that, you want to show all the moment. and my editor and i really felt like, no, once -- if you start cutting too much, you can never go back. you need to establish a different patience in the audience and a different way of
in some ways putting the audience in a state of anxiety. >> rose: for me, it's so interesting because whatever is happening in your face as i'm talking now, it's not just what i'm saying, it's how you're responding to it, a combination of those kinds of things. i'll show this clip when carol is arguing with her husband. >> i'm cold. you can still come back. we'll talk about it. >> i can't do that. yes, you can. what are you going to do? are you going to stay here? what are you going to do, carol, huh? >> rose: you wondered why he stayed so long, except you know
because for some reason she's the only person -- she's fixated on what a great woman she is. >> and i think no one really believes this is real. there is no real examples for it. he can't accept it. >> rose: it's not in his world. >> not in anyone's world, really. therese, in the novel, is an aspiring stage designer and her boyfriend richard is an aspiring painter, though she kind of sees through that. so there are already these characters with artistic ambitions that might put them closer to greenwich village, bohemia. carol wants to be a photojournalist. it meant everyone was less prepared for what they're about to encounter, you know, what's about to unfold.
>> rose: why does carol continue to say what a strange girl she is? >> i think because she's so available, and i think because they're both these people who almost ill logically are stepping out of their respective lives, and -- >> rose: this is not the first time for carol. >> no, it's not. >> rose: why is she surprised by the availability of therese? because it speaks to who therese is or speaks to who carol is? >> i think that's true, but i also think no one really knows the rules. this is -- you don't really know, is therese a lesbian? is carol? you know, therese says to her boyfriend, she says, no, i don't mean people like that, i just mean a girl and a girl who fall in love or a boy and a boy who fall in love. she wants to imagine a
relationship for which there is no model in the story. >> rose: you know what amazes me is this is what i thought about this scene in admiring and loving cate so much as i do, it is how difficult lives are for people. it's just not easy to have these relationships that are so conflicted because of her love for her child and the times, the 1950s and what's acceptable. many people are living a life that is not truly authentic. >> exactly. when people say to cate, sometimes in press conferences, i love how you play strong women -- she kind of bristles because there is something about, you know what? no, i'm not interested in playing strong women, i'm interested in playing conflicted women or people who are, as you say, for whom nothing is easy.
>> rose: you wanted to make a different kind of film about a lesbian love affair than, say, what else might have been made? was there a sense that i don't want to do what hollywood normally does here? >> well, i felt that a lot of it was being true to this whole idea of the kind of isolation that love puts people in and that that was only furthered by the historical condition when this is taking place. but carol, who seems so suave and well put together -- >> rose: and tough. -- and tough, is a somewhat neurotic, not happy person. >> rose: don't know whether she would be happen any this relationship. >> she's neurotic and hasn't found what she wants. she's so well put together from the outside and we think she's so figured out.
>> rose: a formidable perp who knows who she is. >> but she's conflicted and that's why she reevaluates this girl in her life later in the story. >> rose: i saw a quote about a word i wasn't familiar with in terms of the idea of new queer cinema. >> right. >> rose: what is that? that was a term that b.b. rich, the journalist, attributed to a moment in early -- the early '90s when -- and it had everything to do with the aide s era. this had to do with the compression and the spank and the need to speak out and filmmaking and filmmakers as well as social activism. i moved from the east coast and felt like i was thrust in the
middle of this very volatile, complicated time. i made a film called "poison" which is my first feature, and the same year jenny livingston made a film called "paris is burning," a documentary. >> rose: "paris is burning"? yeah, she applied itgto a very contemporary phenomenon of drag club in harlem and -- but, you know, there was private idaho and derek jarmon, obviously his films preceded this era, but a lot of younger filmmakers, and i was one of them, were making film. >> rose: what were the themes? themes of sort of taking on the sort of horrors and fears and the objectification -- >> rose: of aids? -- of what gay people were
cast as at the time by society, a sense of wanting to stand up and saying, no, we're going to defend ourselves, no one else is. it was about our lives matter. it was a similar kind of feeling where no one else was going to take care. >> rose: it's our own story and our lives matter. >> and we have to figure out our treatment for this illness and we did. so activism, and there was an aesthetic component and that become called new queer cinema, but there was something accurate about it that it described the moment and urgency. >> rose: what themes are you drawn to now or you know it when you see it? >> i sort of know it when i see it. i have a little cluster of projects that are in different stages. >> rose: and, so, you will do the first one that has financing and you're ready to do it? >> yeah, and for the first time, i've opened myself up as
directors do to stuff that's out there and i have been very single-minded as a director through most of my career. i do my thing -- >> rose: and then you're prepared to accept the call from somebody who says i like your style, come make this film? >> and i'm so happy i did because carol was my first ve a project that came to mewe and i felt like i would apply my interpretation to it. >> rose: congratulations. thank you so much. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you knick next time. >> rose: for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com.
this is "nightly business report" with tyler mathisen and sue herara. >> best year ever. car sales accelerated in 2015 as automakers report their highest annual sales in history. >> turn around time. will some of the blue chip stocks that lost their shine in 2015 gain is back in the new year. >> and trouble in texas? the lone star state's economy boomed along with the price of oil. how is it holding up now that crude is cratering. all that and more on "nightly business report" for tuesday january 5th. >> good evening, everyone. and welcome. investors may not have liked 2015 very much, but automakers sure did. the industry sold a record number of vehicles last year. in 2015, americans purchased ro