Interview: Gabriele Salvatores, Invisible Boy director

Gabriele Salvatores describes his feature film, The Invisible Boy, which you will be able to discover for yourself from 11 April on video on demand as part of Walk this Way’s Premium Films collection, as “the Italian road to fantasy”. It’s the story of Michele (Ludovico Girardello) a teenager whose life will change all of a sudden when one day, looking at himself in the mirror, he will realise that he’s become invisible.

Cineuropa met up with the director in 2014:

Cineuropa: Where did the idea for a film about a young invisible superhero come from?
Gabriele Salvatores: The birth of the project came from one of the producers, Nicola Giuliano, who had the idea five years ago. It was simply about wanting to make a movie that even her kids could enjoy. I liked the idea of dealing with the invisibility power and of telling a story about teens once again, with a genuine and adventurous plot, in which at some point there’s also potential for a super heroine. I drew on authors that I love, like Jack London and Joseph Conrad. I wanted to include various themes like the secret friend, the mirror, the double, the person within us. Teen bullying is also in there, and that leads to the challenge and the anger that serves as a means of building another world for oneself. This part was thanks to the intuition of the three screenwriters. There was no 14-year-old superhero, but here we don’t see him fighting to save the world, rather he’s fighting against the monsters of daily life.

Which superhero comics were you mainly influenced by?
I was born in the 50s, so for me superheroes were characters like Mao Zedong. I didn’t read comics much when I was younger. The only one I used to read, although it wasn’t a superhero comic, was Flash Gordon. Later on, comics became a part of my life, being very closely related to film. One character I’ve always loved is Corto Maltese by Hugo Pratt. Then there were also the great sci-fi illustrators, Enki Bilal and Moebius. And finally, only later, Spiderman came along.

In The Invisible Boy I see the X-Men movies, but also Let the Right One in by Swedish director Tomas Alfredson.
I really like the diversity and the alienation that the X-Men represent. Having a power means being different, and in this film it’s also a kind of curse and an illness. What’s more, we wanted to pay tribute to a certain genre of 80s film, like The GooniesGremlins, with kids that stumble into adventures that lead them to grow and mature.  Steven Spielberg was the first to combine science fiction and the reality of his characters. We also tapped into darker films like Watchmen and Unbreakeable, which have a particular way of narrating superheroes, a way that’s more familiar to us. And obviously I adore Let the Right One in; it’s very similar to The Invisible Boy.

The film is open-ended: will there be a sequel?
The hanging finale is typical of this genre. We hope that people will want to see another one; we’re already considering a follow-up. I’ve read the beginning of the potential sequel written by the screenwriters and there might be an invisible girl...

To learn more about The Invisible Boy:

08 April 2016, by Cineuropa