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tv   Charlie Rose  WHUT  December 14, 2009 9:00am-10:00am EST

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>> rose: welcome to the broadcast. tonight a conversation about the middle east can correspondent anthony shadid and his wife nada bakri who have just been hired by "the new york times" to go to the baghdad fwur owe. >> one of the great legacys of the american occupation, american invasion, however you want to characterize is it, the evolution of politics in iraq. the evolution toward, you know, they revolve solely around this axis of hnicity and sect. and i think we're seeing that if anything more deeply entrenched. >> there a sense of dependence, on the military side at least, on the americans. i mean the iraqi military and police are still not in very good shape. and they can't take care of themselves and take care of security. >> rose: we continue with fashion icon and filmmaker tom ford, he has directed a
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new movie called "a single man" >> i've always thought of myself as a commercial fashion designers. some fashion designers create art. that their form of expression. for me it's been artistic and it still is, and i love it. but it's a commercial endeavor. this is the first time i've ever actually created something that i created because i had to express it, because i wanted to say something. and that's new for me, to put that much of really myself on screen is easier maybe than putting it out in the real world. >> a perspective on iraq and the middle east and a look at a new movie directed by tom ford coming up. >> funding for charlie rose has been provided by the following: if you've had a coke in the last 20 years, ( screams ) you've had a hand in giving college scholarships... and support to thousands of our nation's... most promising students. ♪
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( coca-cola 5-note mnemonic ) captioning sponsored by rose communication from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: anthony shadid and nada bakri are here, he is a pulitzer prize winning middle east correspondent, formerly the baghdad bureau chief for "the washington post". he just joined "the new york times" as a foreign correspondent in the baghdad bureau of "the new york times". nada is married to anthony shadid, a former "washington post" staffer, she will also join "the new york times" baghdad bureau as a foreign
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correspondent. i'm pleased to have both of them at this table, at this time before they make final shift going over to the "new york times". and a assume living in baghdad. >> that's right. >> rose: okay, welcome. >> thank you. >> rose: great to see both of you. what is it about it, nada, that makes all of us who have had any degree of connection to the middle east, reporting, interview, visiting, come away saying, you know, wow, this grabs you. >> you know, it's so diverse and there are so many changes. >> rose: so many religions. >> so many religions and it's old and you know, rich and it's just fascinating on so many levels. >> rose: were you both convinced that iraq would never split up? or do you think that had a real possibility, they would become shi'a, sunni, kurd. >> you know, i don't think that. i think it's too early to say in a lot of respects.
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i think, you know, there is a great remark that was made by the former ambassador in baghdad, ryan crocker who mentioned that the seminal he vant -- events, i'm paraphrasing, the seminal events haven't happened yet. i think we both have felt over the past year that in some ways we are still on the preamble to what is going to happen in iraq. >> what might they be, the seminal events. >> i think the election is one. >> with the drawal. >> rose: the withdrawal. >> yeah. >> and i think that kind of intersection -- >> politics. >> the intersection between the election and with the drawal is going to be interesting. >> the new government is going to be in charge. >> rose: history in the end will say what about the invasion. >> for the iraqis i think even for the iraqis themselves, a lot of them it was a great thing and for, but i guess the majority of them, if you talk to them, it wasn't --. >> rose: today, you talk to them today they will say we
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would rather they had not come. >> even people who are not living in good conditions, they feel nostalgic for the days of when saddam was in power. because you know, it was safe. they had security. they had electricity. they had just the basics, you know. >> i think there are going to be a lot of different versions of history later, of what has been wrought by this invasion. but i think nada is right. it's difficult for me sometimes when i come back and talk to relatives or friends here in the states, is the degree to which society, in baghdad in particular, has been destroyed or torn apart. the fabric of the place has been -- has been ripped apart. you know t is a more peaceful place than it was when i was first reporting there ba in say 2004 or 2003. you can get around. you can do more than you ever could before. but there is something that i think has really been lost. and that is part in due to
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the emigration of people from the country. >> rose: some 3 million. >> i think it is millions, that went to syria and jordan. >> just a whole class of people, like, you know. >> that have left. >> rose: and might not come back. >> no, i don't think they would. there is nothing to go back to. >> rose: that can change. >> at least now. >> rose: we've seen that change. >> they say, if you talk to any iraqi they say in ten years maybe, it will be a better country but not any time soon. >> rose: could it have gone right, the war. >> i think they just didn't know what to expect. they didn't know what iraq was like. and there was just -- i don't know. i don't think that could have been possible. >> i think that what was --. >> rose: there is no question i haven't asked you two haven't talked about. >> i think what is often missing from our understanding of iraq, we were talking about this earlier today, in fact, was the level of how brutalized
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the country was actually. i mean it had gone through this ten year war with iran in which i think the number is like a fifth of the population had somow taken part in the military. followed by ten years of sanctions, the american invasion, and then an occupation that followed. and so i think we were just dealing with a society that in some ways was so traumatized an brutalized it's difficult to see kind of a linear project of reconstruction or rebuilding it may turn out that way, like nada pointed out, people often do speak about we will have to wait for a generation before things return to the way that we would hope they would. that things will become the way we hope they would become. but it does feel like it is very far off. and i think that level of trauma that iraq has gone through almost, don't want to say preordained but it made very difficult success on the part of the americans. now and it is still early. like i said, i think the seminal events, i agree with the remark of ambassador crocker, i think the seminal events have yet to happen.
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but we do feel like we're on -- i mean conflict is often still settled by violence in that country and i'm not sure that equation is necessarily going to change. >> always settled by violence. >> in iraq in particular. >> rose: would saddam possibly have fallen under his own weight. >> i think he would have sent economic improvement in the country. i first went there in 1998. and again in 2002 and then 2003. an each time i went back, it was getting better. i mean the economics of the place were improving. the politics weren't. and you know, i think we all -- >> i think if you give people better living conditions they would just accept the ruler. >> rose: some people say this happens off when dictators too. the bargain is i will take care of the politics, and -- you just go about the living, you know, leave the politics to me and you simply i won't
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bother you. >> i think you've seen that in syria, egypt. >> rose: that is the nation of what it is. >> africa. >> rose: the iranian influence today. >> uh-huh. >> rose: how profound is it? how penetrating is it. >> i think it's pretty profound. just religiously alone. >> rose: shi'a. >> the places are so deeply connected on a religious level and they just see iran as their big brother, kind of thing. >> rose: those fears that it will dominate iraq have been put aside? >> no, i think the fears are there still, that it would -- but you know, i don't think it's like lebanon where you see iran's influence so much. >> rose: as dow with syria and lebanon. >> yeah. i don't think it's that way in iraq yet, maybe because the americans are still there and it's so much more complicated still and not stable. but i think once they leave you would see that more. >> that's a good point. i think is more subtle and
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more sophisticated in some ways how they exercise their influence. >> you always read about these visits like for iraqi politicians to iran and vice versa but you read about them like a few days later and they are always like a secret visit or you know, a secret trip kind of thing. so you never really know. >> rose: where is the political class going to come from. >> that is a good question. because i think if we talk about again legacys or questions that we want to answer about iraq, there isn't a class, i think a political class right now that claims to speak on behalf of the entire country. this is i think one of great legacys of the american occupation, american invasion, however you want to characterize is it the evolution of politics in iraq. the evolution toward, you know, they revolve solely around this axis of ethnicity and sect. and i think that we're seeing that if anything more deeply entrenched these days. i think there is a lot of talk about national unite -- unity of trying to bridge
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the sectarian divide. we still have in iraq it is almost solely defined by ethnicity or sect and it meanyou have no political class that can cross, can speak on behalf of the country itself or on behalf of the broader nation. until you get that, i feel like it's going to be this kind of protracted conflict, this deep seeded conflict that is very difficult to resolve. the election law that was just completed took months to agree on, almost everyone is predicted that the formation of the government next year after the election will take months as well. and i think a lot of the points just toward that, is almost i want to say divisions that are becoming ossified in some way, they are becoming so entrenched. people often speak about this comparison between iraq and lebanon, lebanon a country of what, 18 different religious sects. where politics are, they have the same difficulty and so they are deadlocked. i think in some ways that is a vision for iraq in the sput as well it may turn out
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not to be but i think that is a fear of a lot of people. >> withdrawal will take place on schedule. >> ihink will. i think short of, you know -- >> short of an iranian invasion. >> there is definitely a determination to get out. that is one of the things i found fascinating over the past year. is that there is clearly an ameran disengagingment from iraq and american officials are very blunt about it. that we are out of here. but i don't think that realization has -- the iraqi politicaclass, i don't think they realize the degree to which the americans are disengaged. >> are serious about it. >> in some ways it encourages a certain brinckmanship because we can be as recalcitrant as possible and the americans will step in and solve it for us. until now the americans are still stepping in and solving the election laws is an example of that. but down the road will they? and i think it could create danger in the year ahead. that gulf and perceptions
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are the realities on the ground. >> who runs the insurgency? >> maliki, the prime minister,i al-maliki has blamed, he often will come up with this idea of the ba'athist and ala together are planning these very high profile spectacular attacks we've seen in august, october and then again this month. it's tough to say who actually is, you know, it's hard for me to see them necessarily participating together they are so ide ideaological different. but dow just time and again working in baghdad you do realize that the ba'ath party is still very much a feature of iraqi life. >> rose: and in syria. >> as it is in syria and part of the leadership is in syria. >> rose: is that right. >> yeah. >> rose: who is in syria? >> it is a question of --. >> rose: i have been fascinated by him. i mean does he meet people in syria, is he there, could people go talk to him? >> i think it's not sure if he is there or not there. but that is what people --
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people think yeah, that he is there. >> going back and forth. >> and he's sick, isn't he very supersick. >> there have been rumors that he has been sick for years now. he is probably the highest ranking ba'athist but also ahead of a sufficienti order which is kind of -- sufi order which is kind of a -- hard to describe. it is a brand of -- a version of islam. the leader of the order actually carrys a lot of influence among his followers is that considered the -- for the next order there. and they have taken a pretty large -- they are very involved in the insurgency. this is again since 2003 when we talk about the insurgency t is so layered, it is so different and groups coming together at times and spliting part and leaderships being -- >> and what has happened to al qaeda. >> i think it's there but -- very much weaker than it used to be. but i think it's trying to
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regroup, maybe, in some parts of iraq. >> but more in pakistan. >> yeah. >> night draws near. iraq's people in the shadow of america's war which got a lot of attention. unintended consequences, tell me why that is so central to the way you see the iraqi world. >> one of my most distinct memories of 2003, was in baghdad during the invasion. i remember sitting and you know that was where the statue came down famously. i remember walking, before the statue actually came down, hi walked down the street a little bit at this american convoy, and i remember this distinct feeling that we had no idea what were we were about to unleash t happened quickly even within weeks there was the beginning of the insurgency. by that summer there was this kind of sense that politics were going to be
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much more organized on a sectarian and ethnic basis, some of the problems we were dealing with. >> rose: you saw it immediately. >> you saw it really early. but unexpected. i don't think any of us had a feeling about how powerful eyea sistani was before the invasion we saw it quickly after. we saw the emergence of sadr. >> rose: is he still that powerful. >> he is,ly more powerful than people think. >> rose: assad err is still very pow. nobody heres about him any more. does that many he is building his power base. >> it is a quintessential will movement, the sadrists, i think they understand their their constituency was exhausted by the violence, that was part of the calculation to pull back from the fighting. but i think they still probably anywhere from 20% to a third of the shi'a they could claim loyalty. so they are going to play a deviceive role in the election in march. they are going to be a player. in some ways they have, i think they are the only movement in iraq, i don't want to overstate this but they are one of the few
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movements in iraq that have a popular following, that have an organization in the street, not just a leadership in baghdad. but all these things emerged, they were unintended consequences of the invasion, things that would not have happened yorz otherwise but very few if anyone foresaw ahead of time. >> rose: when you look at that syria, and hezbollah, what impact is syria having today on iraq? >> the iraquis say that syria is involved, well, at least in the latest bombings. >> that is my point. >> the big bombings, so i think some people few its alike -- view it as a civil lyzing rule like with hezbollah in the same role in iraq. but you know, maybe because the ba'ath party is still there and they blame the ba'ath party for that. i don't know. i mean i don't see how influential syria could be or not as influential in iraq as it is in lebanon because in lobe gone --
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lebanon they have hezbollah. and hezbollah is very close to syria. >> rose: who is the most important and influential player in the region. iran or egypt? >> i think iran by far. >> by far. >> you know, i think -- >> i think iran and saudi a lab what -- >> i think that is one of the stories is the decline of egyptian stature. >> cinema and tv and just music, everything. i think it's being revived now a little bit, getting better. >> but in terms of political clout t is -- >> they have been asleep for a long time. >> when you look at sudan its southern neighbor it is amazing how little influence it can even play there. i think iraq is another example, in some ways. i think we will see this in the election in march is iraq will be kind of a proxy battle between the iranians and saweduis where lebanon was earlier this year. turkey is going it to have a -- turkey is the kind of sleeper in the region.
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>> the x-factor. >> exactly. you know, who would have imagined that -- >> i mean. >> stepping in. >> as i said that expression for a while who won the argue, iran, now people can say no, turkey won because of the opportunities that came out of it for them because of it, the kurds. >> and who would have imagined the turks and kurds having relations up in northern -- that was another unintended consequence i think. >> rose: all of us are fascinated by how iran will play itself out internally. >> right. >> rose: and the power of the revolutionary guard today and the influence of the supreme leader, the role that ahmadinejad is going to play. how do you see that. >> it it's so interesting. the reverberations of this remarkable conflict really haven't been felt around the region yet and i have always been struck by that, even in iraq, for instance, there is not -- people don't even talk about it that much but when you see the dynamics
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playing out in iran and i won't speak with too much authority, i haven't been there in years but you could almost see the putting down of this current round of dissent. the emergence of military dictatorship let's say with the revolutionary guard tess forefront but you feel that is not the end of the story. friends i talk to other people that follow it closely, i mean there does seem to be, if this avenue of dissent is going to be closed and it's going to find another way to be released and does that mean some kind of armed conflict down the road, some kind of insurgency, civil strife, it's hard to say but i do feel like this chapter could end violently but that doesn't mean the end of the story. and this could be, you know, this could easily be a story that drags on for years. in ways that could get more violent. >> but i mean my impression of the most recent demonstrations that they were -- >> you don't feel the reverberations because i don't think much is known of what is going on inside iran. you don't see images on tv
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or in the papers or -- >> in the end does everybody in the region fear the iranians? including the syrians? >> i think pretty much, yes. >> i really -- >> yeah, i think. >> you no there have so -- i guess it depends -- >> i guess some people do fear it but others fe a sense of pride that, you know, this islamic country is defying or you know building a nuclear power. >> rose: my impression is the people in the region don't want to see iran as a nuclear power. >> depends on who. >> rose: who does, who wants the state as a nuclear power. >> there is such a current of anti-americanism that exists in the region t is almost -- >> it is a change people would love to see in islamic, middle eastern country that has nuclear power but if we're talking about saudi arabia or egypt or. >> rose: jordan or. >> north africa, i don't know. >> rose: qatring. >> there a lot of fear. >> political class is one thing. i think that is the sense.
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>> because of the anti-american sentiment you feel. >> rose: did obama's speech change any of that feeling of anti-americanism in the street. >> no. >> think it softened it. >> you know, i don't think so. because they, you know, they always tell you, you know, words are different than actions. and if we don't see any actions than you know but what are words for. >> i think there is a distinction between obama himself and -- >> i don't think anybody is talking about. >> rose: you think what. >> nobody is talking about his speech any more. >> rose: are they talking about what he is doing in afghanisn? >> no, not that i've -- not really. >> in the middle east you hear --. >> rose: is there a great fascination of how this will play out in afghanistan. >> i don't think it was ever. >> i think afghanistan is considered remote. >> rose: and irrelevant? >> irrelevant, i'm not sure irrelevant necessarily or just less, more difficult -- >> less tangible.
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but i won ferr there is not a distinction made between oa and american policy as a thing that is unchanging, going on for generation. >> maybe oa is himself because they just see him as a new leader, as having a muslim father, you know, they just kind of like that. but doesn't mean that they like what he is going to do or what he is doing or, you know, but like as a person. >> i think that's true. >> rose: you are going to go to your new assignment when. >> january we start in baghdad. >> rose: both in baghdad. >> uh-huh. >> rose: so are you going to live in baghdad. >> you kw, we're expecting so -- >> i will be there two months and then i will go on maternity leave in march. >> rose: and where will you go. >> beirut. >> yes. >> rose: good luck. >> thank you. >> rose: great to meet you. >> great to meet you too. >> rose: thank you for coming. i have admired your work for a long time. >> thank you. >> rose: we'll be right back. stay with us.
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>> tom ford is here. he is a giant in the fashion world as the creative director of guch frei 1994 to 2004. he revitalized a company and its brand. he left guchi five years ago to start his own label, tom ford this year he lived out another dream by directing his first feature film. it is called the singleman and stars colin firth and julianne moore. after de -- debuting it is already again razing -- generating buzz. here is a look at the clip from the film. >> it takes time in the morning for me to become george. i'm to adjust to what is expected of george and how he is to behave. from the time i am dressed and put the final layer of polish on the now slightly stiff but quite perfect george, i know fully what part i was supposed to play.
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>> looking in the mirror staring back at me wasn't so much a face as the expression of a predictment. >> just get through it. >> i'm pleased to have tom ford back at this table. welcome. >> thank you, it's nice to be here, charlie. >> here is what i want you to -- i want to begin with this. this is your third or fourth appearance on this program. >> it is. >> rose: all right, take a look at this clip, roll tape. >> oh god. >> why film? >> film, the ultimate design project. i mean fashion are you designing a dress. film you are designing a world. you're designing a world that is hermetically sealed in a bubble forever where you are deciding what the characters, what they wear work what they look like, whether they die, what happens, it is in a sense the ultimate design project. and i think that one of the frustrating things about being a fashion design certificate that it doesn't last. you design a great dress, and you know, it's over like that. it doesn't look the same two
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months later. you don't love it as much as you did the first time you saw it because your eyes become adjusted to it. >> rose: so there you are. >> you don't need me again. you are just replay that, because i don't have anything new to say. >> rose: yes, you do. >> i still feel exactly that way. >> rose: but this was 2004. >> yes. >> rose: and the question that came before that is what do you really want to do. and you said i want to be a filmmaker. >> i did, and i do, and i'm happy to say i've made my first film. >> rose: why did you want to do it? >> oh, god. >> rose: beyond what you just said. >> i will try to phrase it differently but it will be hard because that is really why i wanted to do it, you know if you are someone who likes creating when you create a film you really are creating a world and it never changes and are you really designing what those people do and this is exactly the same thing i just said. but i have to say, what i didn't expect then when i said that was i expected it to be fulfilling. i didn't expect it to be as fulfilling as it was. and i didn't expect maybe -- maybe i hadn't come to terms with that moment with time of being able to put as much of myself into something as
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i ultimately did. >> rose: so this, that was four years ago five years ago. >> we looked good, don't we. we look the same. >> rose: we're aging quite well. >> we look terrific, maybe better, actually. >> rose: i certainly hope so, that is actually my op rative idea, get better looking, better looks. >> just better lighting makes you look good. >> rose: yes, indeed. this notion of this film then. >> uh-huh. >> rose: so in a five-year process you found this project. why this fill number. >> it took me awhile. you know, sitting there talking about making a film i don't think i had figured out what my voice was going to be as a filmmaker. i knew what i stood for as a fashion designer but why does anyone need to see a tom ford film, who cares. why does the world need another film. so i had to really think, you know what do i have to say. what is meaningful to me. i read this book by christopher -- called the single man whens way 20 years old living in los angeles, i was a young actor and it really spoke to me. it spoke to me because i was it is a beautifully written character study of a great character. who i really felt like i was going to run into somewhere,
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and meet. ultimately i did meet him, it was a very autobiographical, never understood which one was the right word, study as most of his books were. and i then quickly started reading everything christopher had written. fast forward to the future, i had when i first decided to really become certificate quus about making a film, i optioned a couple of books. i was sent lots of screenplays in los angeles, the kinds of screenplays that i think people would think that a fashion designer would want to make. they were very slick, surfacey. not really a lot of depth, not a story. >> rose: an extended commercial. >> extended commercial, exactly. so i was driving to my office one day on sunset and realized i was thinking of this character george. and i thought you know, i have thought of this book off and on for the last 25 years. i should pick it up and read it again. well, speaking, or reading this from my mid 40s, now late 40s, it spoke to me in a totally different way. it is the story of a man who cannot see his future, who is at a crossroads.
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and it is a very spiritual book which i didn't get the first time i read it christopherisherwood was a student of the danta and spent the second half of his life at the a danta center discovering the spiritual side of himself. and the story is really about learning to live in the present, appreciating the small things in our life because they are really the big things in our life. and connection. with other people. and i think that certainly i was in a place where i had really my identity had sort of, you know, been pulled out from under me, i guess. maybe it was self-imposed. and it spoke to me because i was at that same kind of crossroads. i could sympathize with our character george. >> rose: is this a midlife crisis or something else. >> midlife, i don't know. the three principal characters in the story, in the film are going throughange . i think that can happen to you when you are a teenager becoming a man, when are you -- i think at different stages of your life when you have to shifted into a different period of your life. and you have to look at the world in a different way. >> so you identify with
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george faulkner. >> absolutely. and there are lots of other things to identify with george faulkner first of all he doesn't have the name in the book, just george. faulkner came from a dear friend of mine. but i had to also take the story and reconstruct it quite a bit because the book is a beautiful interior monologue that when i started to break to down sin matically and to figure out a way to show it as almost a silent film as i have heard when you decide you are going to direct you start listening to everyone and listening to all of these maxims about you know how to make a film, one of them is make a silent film it is a visual medium. make something you can watch and understand the story and lay on the dialogue. this particular story didn't have a lot of outward action that told you what was happening. so i had to pull from the part of the story that spoke to me. i pulled from my own life. so there is an enormous, the basic plot of the story. i drafted my own story and my own life on to the story of christopherisherwood, the singleman. >> rose: and what do you
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know now that you didn't know when you started making this movie. >> ha, ha, ha. what do i know. i hope i know a lot of things. i don't know. i think i know that i know nothing, maybe that. i don't know. i don't know. i know a lot of things but i know nothing. >> do you have a spiritual side. >> i definitely have a spiritual side. and that is maybe something that i realize now more than ever. and hi always had it. but i neglected it. and i think in our western culture and i know is hard 0 listen to a fashion designer sitting here. >> rose: it is all commercial, you have gone from a life that is all commercial to a life in which you think of yourself now as an autur. >> i wouldn't -- think of --. >> rose: you thought the word. >> i haven't thought the word, you thought it i'm very proud of this, it is maybe the morse personal thing i have ever done. i always thought of myself as a commercial fashion designer. sochlts some fashion designers create art that their form of expression. for me, it's been artistic, and it still is. and i love it. but it's a commercial
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endeavor. this is the first time i've ever actually created something that i created because i had to express it because i wanted to say something. and that new for me to put that much of really myself on screen is easier maybe than putting it out in the real world other than to a few ose friends. >> rose: here is the story of a guy, is the story of a man whose lover of how many years, 16 years. >> 16 years. >> rose: has been -- has come to an untimely death. >> uh-huh. >> rose: and he's trying to cope with it. >> uh-huh. >> rose: and he doesn't see any light at the end of the tunnel. >> no, he doesn't, none. >> rose: he's thinking about the last day on earth. >> uh-huh. >> rose: and that's what happening to him this day. >> yes. >> rose: but. >> but once he decides that this is his last day on earth, for the first time in months he starts really looking at things and he becomes pulled by the beauty of the world.
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and all of a sudden colors become intense, shapes and things and the surfa of our world and the experience of being alive starts to pull it he also makes connections with people. the film is filled with eyes, because this is a man who for the last eight months has not looked anyone in the eye, hasn't made any connections. an all of a sudden he's connecting with people. because of that, they are responding to him in a completely different way. and by the end of this day, he has had a kind of epiphany. he's understood this place in the universal. he's understood that the important things in his life have been his connections with other people. that he has those, that he has the ability to have them. and he understands all of the gifts that the material world and life on this planet can give. >> he is a gay professor in los angeles. and a small school. and did you want to make a movie about a gay man. >> no, i didn't think about
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it at all. but i forgot -- forget that i'm gay. and you know, you know, i -- an we've had this conversation before. name ten things you know about --. >> rose: gay i would would not be one of them. >> well, yes i am gay and i've always been open about my life. i live with someone i have been with for the last 23 years. but i don't necessarily define myself by my sexuality. now that comes because a lot of men and women before me have forged the way for that. and i can behave in that way in our culture today. but i wanted to make a story that was about love, a story that was -- i think is a very universal story this, because this is something, you know this man could have, we could have almost the same story if he lost his wife of 16 years. he couldn't see his future. he could not pull himself out of his brief gra. he decided to end his life and because of that going through this day, he rediscovered the beauty of the world. so it's a story that was important. gay, not gay, of course t book when it was written in 1964 was ground breaking because christopherisherwood
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portrayed gay life in a very matter of fact way. that was the way i wanted to portray it on screen. the scene of the two men liing with their dogs reading the book. it's right out of my life. i have to pay richard to walk the dogs. it takes the money. although he doesn't take $5, he takes 20 now because it is 2009, instead of 1964. so people occasionally will say to me, even good friends, your life style, what is that, my lifestyle. i live with someone i love. you know, we read books, we cook dinnering to, we owe occasionally argue. we go on vacation together, we have been together for 23 years that is correct is my lifestyle some for me love is love. it waepted about wanting to do a gay story or straight story, it was just the story spoke to me. >> rose: did you feel like you had to go off and learn to direct or did you instinctively know whato do? >> i don't know. you know i felt so comfortable, i don't mean this in an egoistical way at all, this was my first film,
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i learned a lot doing. but i felt really comfortable through every part of the process and i loved it. of course when i decided that i wanted to direct, i listened to a lot of people. mr. nichols who we were talking about. >> rose: said you uld do it. >> listening to everyone, and you start watching films in a different way and watch every camera angle and try to figure out how they are ing things and watch the lith imof a cup or story the type of camera used. all those technical things. >> rose: were you conscious if i do this, people are going to think of me and say there heoes, tom ford, fashion director, tom ford who has to have a certain look. >> no. >> rose: that's all he is about. >> no. i never think about those things. i don't know why. when i want to do something and i believe in it, of course i have fear. i never let it stop me. i don't usually think about what people are going to think of me. in fact now that i have made this film, people keep saying how does it feel to have done this when everyone was laughing at you. and i didn't realize they were. because of course no one ever does that to your face an i just felt coy make a movie an hope i made a good
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one and i just got on with it. so i don't usually let those things you know inflauns me. >> rose: you like the writing. >> i loved it. i loved it because it's perfect when you write. are you sitting at yr computer or i am in my bed, with my little fox terrier curled up on my legs who made her way into the film, by the way. and you know, everything is perfect. because it's in your mind. so there is nothing going wrong, it is not that you can't have that camera it is not that you started raining and you have to shoot outside or get out of that location, it's all perfect and it's very solitary. i don't know whether it is growing up in new mexico in the middle of nowhere, the older i get, the more and more i love to be alone add out in made and by myself and i'm quite solitary. >> how much liberty did you take in this novel. >> i took a lot. because although i think i stayed very true to the intention of the story. don, christopher's long time partner, boyfriend, lover, there is not a good name for that, we have to cover it
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out. >> rose: also boyfriend, girlfriend when the girl is 40 years old. >> boyfriend trivialize it, lover makes it sound like all dow is in sex. there is not a good word for same sex couples. >> rose: what about partner. >> partner sounds like business partner, you are my ceo. >> rose: what is your word. >> i usually introduce richard as my better half which he is, indeed. but anyway, what were we talking about, what did you ask me. >> rose: about the writing and taking liberty. >> you know, i really wanted to say very true to the book because i loved the book and is a great piece of literature. i was struggling trying to figure out how to take parts of the book that spoke to me and turn them into the film that i wanted to make and make it cinematic. i was having dinner with don one night, christopher's lover, boyfriend, partner of 40 some odd years. >> rose: better half. >> better half, and i out of into where i didn't tell him i was struggling, thinking maybe this is the wrong project. he said make it your own.
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whatever you are doing, make it your own. and when he saw the film which he loved and he wrote me a big wonderful long letter but he was involved through the process. he gave me a big hug and said you made it your own. and that gave me in a sense of licence to take this book and to say okay this is what it means to me. this is what this book means to me. how do i express that. and i bought final draft which is a software screen writing program. i read a few books on screen writing. i will make it sound easier, i struggled for a year and a half. and created a new plot. and you know, layered the characters in and when i eventually got it to a place that i was happy with i sent it to julianne moore and hi written her character hoping she would respond. and she said yes really almost immediately. and that gave the project a kind of validity that helped. >> rose: was she first or colin. >> colin was my first choice for george, but julianne was the first person i sent the screenplay to. because as i said, hi written that part really hoping she would respond.
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i've known her as a friend for quite a while and i love her as an actress. and i was hoping she would --. >> rose: you can't deny this, the film does have a certain stylized quality. >> it does. >> rose: he looks -- i mean we are talking about shirts. he is putting his shirts on. you said, i said to them why are they folded. i said who would wear a shirt that wasn't folded, no starch, folded with a ban around it. >> first of all, george there is a certain style. but style without substance, meaningless. so first thing, story. then the style needs to support the story. this is a character who is holding himself together by his outer world. his oer world and his inner world are linked. inside he's this soulful, romantic, crushed man who is keeping himself together by all of this outer armor which i can definitely relate to, you know, on a bad day, and this is a good piece of advice for most people. when i have a bad day, i polish my shoes, i put on my
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best suit. i do. because it is armor. >> rose: to do what, polish your shoes and go out to dinner. >> go to wherever i have to go. if i have to go to the office, to dinner where i have to go. >> rose: wherever business calls. >> because it's armor, you feel like okay, if i can control all of this, everything in here will hold together. and that's what this character is about. so and that's directly from the book. he says in the book christopher that it takes time in the morning for him to become george. and not to be too philosophical but the book is written in the third person. >> rose: exactly. >> and it is really written by the soul of george or the true spirit of george writing about the material george going through his day. >> rose: okay, let's take a look. here is a scene with george and his friend charlesie, charlotte who is played by july ann moore. >> what are you doing this weekend? >> i think i might just be very quiet.
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>> you never really took me seriously did you george. >> i tried to charlesie, remember, long time ago it didn't really work out, did it. night charlesie sleep tight. >> rose: nice. >> thank you. the way the door closed. >> thank you. well, the doors close on her in his life, that's the last time --. >> rose: just set her up. she had lost her guy and she had something with him 120 ars ago. >> 10 years. >> rose: 20 years ago in london. >> yes. >> rose: and she just is lonely, she's reaching out. she loves his companionship, she wants. >> she's in the same position he is. she is at a crossroads in life. she cannot see her future this is a great beauty.
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and by the way this type of woman, i know so many of them. and i sympathize. no one talks about women in our culture and the kind of female midlife crisis that happens when you are a beautiful woman. you move through our culture in a way, beautiful women are really one of the most powerful things in our culture. and you know, women learn to operate in a certain way. and all of a sudden one day, the carpet is just pulled out from under these women who, you know, for no fault of their own, the world doesn't respond to them in the same way. and they have to change their way of dealing with things in order to exist. and it is something i sympathize with because i have worked with women a lot and i have very, i have a lot of great female friends. and that is where julianne's character s somebody who is still clinging to the past. she is thinking if she can just stay beautiful, have the latest car, the latest music, the latest, you know, most beautiful house. she wants george because he is her best friend. i think that a lot of times, i have had wonderful relationships with women throughout my life. i have had sexual
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relationships with women. i fall in love with men, george says that. in the story. and you know there is a romance. george and charlotte have a romance. it is a different kind of romance it has lasted for 35 years, it can maybe, you know, be one of the greatest romances of their life but it to the going to be a sexual romance. and i think that julianne's character, you know t is very hard, unrequieted love is one of the hardest things, i think. and if you have ever been granted physical access to someone, if you have ever been able to sleep with someone, touch them, kiss them, and one day are you not granted that access any more, but all the emotion is still there, very hard thing to deal with. and that is what her character is dealing with george. >> rose: all right, take a look at this. this is george giving a lecture to his class, early in the fill and and it is just a terrific scene, here it is. >> we're going to talk about here, here after all is our real enemy. fear is taking over our world. fear is being used as a tool of manipulation in our society. it's our politicians peddle
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policy, it on madison avenue sells us things you don't need. think about it. fear of being attacked. the fear that there are communists lurking around every corner. the fear that some little caribbean country that doesn't believe in our way of life poses a threat to us. the fear that black culture may take over the world. the fear of elvis presley's hips. actually maybe that one is a real fear. >> rose: so what was the hardest part of this process? >> oh, god that's so hard to answer. i think really breaking through with restructuring the story finding my voice, figuring out what i wanted to say and what i thought deserved to be told. i'm glad you showed this scene though because fear is something that george is railing against. he's becoming to criticize. he doesn't love the america he is living in in the early '60s. he feels the dumbing down of society and culture, a loss
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of manners. and we're being manipulated to buy things through fear. >> rose: this is also the time of the cuban missile crisis. >> exactly. but is also the beginnings of the culture that we currently live in, dumbing down of america and the manipulation of all, through fear, fear, fear. you know, as a selling tool and as a way to get us to watch television and to drive us. >> so when someone looked at this movie as you hope many will, should they say to themselves i'm looking at tom ford? >> i hope that when people see this film, they see a little bit of themselves. because i would like to think that what george is going through is universal. isolation, we all feel. we all feel -- loss, sometimes we feel that we can't connect, that we don't love that no one loves us, that we feel isolated and i think that that is universal. when you ended the film did you know that you had what you have now or did you make wonder in the editing room.
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>> first of all i was incredibly depressed when we stopped shooting. i think, well, it's like having a child i think. i have never had a child, i can't say that but when you work on something, work on something and then it stops, you have wrapped. i got over that because then i went not editing room. and that to me was like rubiks cube, i had always heard a film could be made or unmade in an editing room. i didn't really understand it it is absolutely true. you can rewrite a movie in an editing room. you need great material coming in, i took 21 days to shoot, five months to edit, click, click, click, click, click, until just kind of sat in a way that i couldn't imagine sitting in any other way. >> rose: you said directing is like being god because you have power, you can move things around. >> in your own little bubble. the reason it's like being god is, you know, you are designing a world, an alternate universal that never changes. and you decide what these people do, how they look
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where they live what happens to them what they say. and a 100iers from now whatever the medium of watching things will be, someone will be able to project this, watch this, envision this maybe it will be three dimentional, i don't know, but they will be neatly transported back in that world and reacting emotionally with people that no longer exist and they will be inside your alternate universal forever. it is the most permanent thing i think we can create. very appealing. >> you said one thing that was funny about this idea. when you left guchi, you said you went home at 4:00 p.m. and got in bed. >> i did. >> rose: because? >> i was so depressed. didn't know what to do. >> rose: about? >> well, for 15 years guchi had been my life. and i threw absolutely everything i had into it. and all of a sudden is and my calendar was booked solid, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, for 15 years. >> rose: and you liked what tom ford was and what he was about and everything about it. i loved everything i was
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doing. the last couple of years, though, i started to feel maybe i had said all coy say. despite the fact of what happened with the company and the fact that we sold the company and all of that, even creatively, i was starting to feel a little wrestless. and unsatisfied so i could see it coming. leaving was the best thing that ever happened to me. i really knew it at the time. but still all of a sudden when you know you go from this intense schedule to just blank space on your calendar and you have no longer the ability to have a voice in contemporary culture, i didn't know what to do with myself except get into bed. >> rose: i never knew until i did reading about you about how difficult it was to work with eaves st-laurent. >> i have only recently talked about that. >> i know. >> first of all i never worked with him. we bought his company. he was retired. the difficulty came in that every single thing i tried to do, very very beginning we were friendly. and i think he was happy that i was there. i think when the company started to do well, and our collections started to double in sales every year, and all of the women who used to hitit in his front row were sitting in my front
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row, i have to say i started to get someest pretty nasty letters. >> rose: what would they say. >> i don't want to go in to it, but they were two and three pages long, handwritten. >> rose: saying what. >> saying in one show you have undone 40 years of my life and my work because you know i hadn't used the right shade of lipstick. but the wod needs to move on and we have all our time. and you know, sometimes our window moves by. i hope i'm smart enough to realize when my window has moved on. >> rose: you said they were evil, pierce borge -- were evil. >> evil, i don't know. >> rose: that is what you said. >> evil to me, yes, they were. >> rose: what could you -- how did you take this? did you -- >> i didn't take at all. i just -- said great, fine, i'm move on with what i do. >> rose: you were confident enough in yourself. >> yeah, but they didn't make my life easy e certainly not with the french press. >> rose: so you have this company called tom ford. >> yes. >> rose: now have you a successful movie. we'll see what it does at the box office but critics are saying very nice things about it and about you and
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what you have done here. >> they are. >> rose: so where are you. >> where am i, sitting here talking to charlesie rose, where else would anyone want to be. >> rose: at an opportune moment. but where are you in terms of how you see your future. >> oh, i would like to see and i hope i will see a parallel career. i love what i do as a fashion designer. if i had to sit around for three years with nothing to do between film projects i would lose my mind. i function the best when i'm doing a lot of things. you know, i love what i do so it's not work. i work 24 hours a day but i love it. i don't think of it as work. i had a brief three month period of retirement when i left guchi. i thought okay, i'm not going to work any more. i'm going to get golf clubs and play golf because i played golf as a kid. oh my god, nightmare. first of all my game was terrible and i was bored out of my mind. i love to work. >> rose: can you do two things without both of them suffering? if you get serious about filmmaking. >> why not. i was serious about this. >> rose: of course you were but so what happened to tom ford company while you were out making this movie. >> oh, it did pretty well, yeah. well, it might have been
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hard on my team because i made them fly back ard forth with suitcases full of clothes. >> rose: did clothes still have a -- >> oh, sure, just because hi become more spiritual doesn't mean i've, you know, given up the material world. we are in the material world. and if you keep things in perspective, there is still a lot of enjoyment that you can get out of the material world so i love clothes. >> rose: and does making a film and making clothes come from the same place, is there a creative place in all of us. >> yeah, i think it does. >> rose: and these things come from however they are expressed. >> i think so. i think some people right books, some people paint pictures, some people create music. i think it's something that you have to express, certainly for me it is. >> rose: all right. one last scene, here it is. >> don't you just envy it. >> why. >> because he just does what he likes, like yesterday, i was standing in the front yard and susan came over to talk. and that little brat of hers christopher came running over waving that damn gun of his around and her leg dog walked right up, hiked his like and peeed all over
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christophers, actually. perfectly executed. after all the times -- the kids have tortured that poor guy. you should take a lesson. they don't stay up all night worrying. they figured out how to get the two of us to do exactly what they want. they are basically very sophisticated little parasites when you think about it. >> speak to that scene. >> well, that is my dog an guess. that my dog an guess that is an guess and that scene is right out of moo i life, you know that is my life. >> i mean sitting there reading with your lover. >> absolutely, lover, boyfriend whatever we are calling him, yeah, that's my domestic home life. >> rose: and this was a flashback. >> this is a flashback because in the book we don't have that many flashbacks of jim. we needed to see paradox before we could understand paradise lost. so we had to -- you know we had to get to know george's previous life so we could grieve with him.
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>> rose: do you know what your next movie is? >> maybe, i have something i have been working on through original screenplay, not an adaptation but i need some space. i finished this in august. we had venice in september when colin won best actor. then toronto film festival, london film festival, stock could film festival we're opening this week. and so i need to, you know, see this through, the promotion part oit. and then i need to get a little space because i would like to think that every film i make will be something as personal and something that speaks to me in the way that this did. and that isn't necessarily the easiest thing to find. i need some distance rses thanks for coming. >> thank you for having me. >> rose: tom ford, the movie is simply called a single man it opens in a limited release on december 11th. thank you for joining us. see you next time captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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