The Double is based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s 19th-century novella of the same name, though Ayoade and his co-writer Avi Korine (brother of Harmony of Spring Breakers notoriety) have taken the tale in a different direction after the introduction of the mysterious doppelgänger, from “schizophrenic descent” into an exploration of loneliness and invisibility. “The thing that we liked about the story is that the two look identical, but everyone for some reason just likes the other one,” Richard Ayoade ♥ explains. “They always would pick the other one. If they both told a joke, they would laugh at the other one even if they said it in exactly the same way. That was part of the nightmarish aspect of it — there’s no reason. His manifestation is about Simon’s state.”
Landing a big, crowd-pleasing punchline doesn’t seem like a pressing concern for Ayoade, for whom cult classics have been something of a specialty. The London-born, Cambridge-educated writer, director, actor, and comedian was one of the forces behind Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, a terrific and terrifically strange British horror comedy series that pretended to be a never-broadcast ’80s show finally being aired and intercut with present-day interviews with the cast members. The single six-episode 2004 season built up a devoted following online.
Inside The Mind Of The World’s Coolest Film Geek
Similar to his excellent 2011 debut feature, “Submarine," quick comparisons to past classics have flown frequently with Richard Ayoade’s sophomore effort “The Double." This time Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” has been elected the overriding influence; however, don’t ask Ayoade to verify such a claim. As the actor/director said when he sat down with us recently in Los Angeles, “I don't remember ‘Brazil’ well enough to even know whether that's true.”
We called Ayoade’s pitch-black comedy “special and singular filmmaking at its best” when we caught it at TIFF last year, and you can watch our festival interviews with both Ayoade and Wasikowska to gain insight into the origins and production of the project. But as “The Double” hits theatres this week, we thought we’d ask the director to graciously run down a few of his actual influences for the unique project.
Director Richard Ayoade Shares The 5 Films That Influenced The Double
Richard Ayoade once recalled the time the British Film Institute showed every film ever made by gloomy Swedish maestro Ingmar Bergman as "one of the best two months ever." He saw them all.
Given that Ayoade is mostly known for being funny – as the geeky Moss from The IT Crowd, as the winner of a Perrier comedy award at the Edinburgh Fringe, long ago as a president of Cambridge Footlights, and most recently saying droll things on late-night panel shows – he seems an unlikely Bergman fan. Watching his new film The Double, however, it all makes sense.
"In cities you have large densities of people who are dedicated to ignoring one another, really. If you stare at someone on the train it's a hostile gesture. So people go about cities in ways where they don't connect with other people except in precise situations where it's allowed. And I think the idea in the Dostoyevsky book is also: 'Well, who are you anyway? Who are you to say, 'I am this person; I am worthy of respect; I am worthy of recognition?' If no one else agrees, then you're not. And if your sense of self comes from the recognition of others, then you will just disappear."
From The IT Crowd to The Double, Richard Ayoade gets seriously funny
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