Italian director Pietro Marcello’s 'Scarlet' centers on unconventional 'princess'

"Scarlet" by Pietro Marcello was invited to the Gala Presentation section at this year's Busan International Film Festival. [BIFF]

BUSAN — Italian director Pietro Marcello’s period drama “Scarlet,” which was invited to screen at the Busan International Film Festival’s Gala Presentation section, is like a fairytale version of the hit drama series “Crash Landing on You.”

The Gala Presentation section introduces new projects by world renowned filmmakers.

Loosely based on the 1923 Russian novel “Scarlet Sails” by Alexander Grin, it’s not the princess, but the prince who does the crash landing in his plane.

Set in the aftermath of the World War I, the film revolves around an unconventional but beautiful young woman, portrayed by a 20-year-old singer-turned-actor Juliette Jouan. She has a strong connection with her two guardians, her father, portrayed by Raphael Thierry and a widow, portrayed by Noemie Lvovsky.

The film had its world premiere at Director’s Fortnight at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Marcello, originally a documentary filmmaker, made his feature film debut with “Martin Eden” (2019), which competed for the Golden Lion at the 76th Venice International Film Festival.

Marcello was captivated by the Russian novel which he described as “a simple yet beautiful little story about love” — not only between the protagonist and the pilot, portrayed by Louis Garrel, but also the protagonist’s bond between her two guardians.

“We made few alterations from the novel ,” Marcello said at a local press event at KNN Theater, Busan, on Saturday. “[Originally], he was the prince who arrives on a white horse, but we wanted to accentuate Juliette [the protagonist] as an independent being.”

From left, BIFF programmer Seo Seung-hee, director Pietro Marcello, actors Juliette Jouan and Raphael Thierry attend a local press event at KNN Theater in Busan for this year's BIFF. [BIFF]

“In the novel, it was essentially about a young girl whose life changes forever as she meets a dashing prince,” Jouan explained during the press conference. “But we [the staff and the actors] did not think of Juliette as that kind of person, as it can be derived from her background and childhood. So we tried very hard to find the proper balance [between the film and the novel].”

Juliette is described as a clever, bright young woman who finds herself and her family ostracized from rest of the town's community. However, she finds solace in poetry, reading and music, daydreaming about her freedom and independence until she meets the pilot. At the end of the film, however, Juliette neither leaves town nor leaves with her prince charming.

“I do not believe that Juliette is a character who simply waits for something to happen to her,” Marcello said. “She is someone who can autonomously decide for herself, and I believe it was her own decision to stay in the town.”

Another factor that shapes Juliette is her relationship with her father, according to Thierry.

Juliette forms a strong connection with a widow, portrayed by Noemie Lvovsky, left. [BIFF]

“I think the director and I had similar visions [about the film],” Thierry said at the press conference. “Our generation has understanding and similar experience about the traditional rural community which is shown in the film [...] However, even though the society transgresses to a modern one, I do not believe that the traditional foundation based on familyhood has been altered. It’s timeless and conventional that the father wants to give happiness and share with his daughter his dream— that has not changed from the 19th century to today.”