Julia Taymor interview: ‘The Glorias’ writer/director
“It has been a personal exhilaration for me,” admits writer/director Julie Taymor about her new biopic “The Glorias,” which explores and celebrates the life of feminist icon Gloria Steinem. “I was so taken with the 80 years of her life,” Taymor reveals. “What people will really glean from this is why and how do you become the activist that she is? What was it about her early childhood and her relationship with her father, her mother, the idea that she didn’t go to school until she was 12 years old but that travel was the best education?” Watch the exclusive video interview with Taymor above.
In “The Glorias,” Oscar winners Julianne Moore and Alicia Vikander play Steinem at different stages of her life as she rises to prominence as a leader of the women’s liberation movement. The film was written by Taymor and co-writer Sarah Ruhl, based on Steinem’s autobiography “My Life on the Road.”
“The Glorias,” however is not your standard biopic. “It is a road movie,” Taymor declares. It weaves dramatic flashbacks of particular events in Steinem’s life with surreal scenes of four Glorias at different ages sitting together on a Greyhound bus, reminiscing about their shared past and future. Taymor calls it the “bus out of time,” a construct she employs throughout the film to thematically anchor and connect formative moments in Steinem’s life. In typical Taymor fashion, the film also features the occasional technicolor flight of fancy, showcasing Taymor’s hallmark visual flair by dramatizing characters’ inner thoughts and feelings in a hyper-realistic way, a narrative device also used in some of her previous work such as “Titus” (1999), “Frida” (2002) and “Across The Universe” (2007).
Taymor suggests that making this film has been a personally and professionally rewarding experience for her. “It’s been an incredible ride,” she remarks. The writer/director also reveals that the film was meant to end on a different note to what ultimately made it to screen.
“We started this film when we thought it would be a celebration of the first female president,” Taymor says, explaining that she wanted “The Glorias” to end on a high note with the election of Hillary Clinton as the first female President of the United States. “We even shot the election night four years ago. But when that failed, we went off to Washington and we shot the women’s march,” she explains. Instead, the film ended at a time of social change and upheaval in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election, the #MeToo movement and the 2017 woman’s protest march on Washington, DC, a fitting conclusion to a story about a woman’s courage and determination.
“The last three words of the film are ‘We The People,'” Taymor says. “Where we are right now in the United States, I mean exactly where we are right now, is that this film is a celebration of democracy.”