If your Tuesday needs a few more severed heads than usual, you’re in luck: the new trailer for Al Pacino’s Oscar Wilde double bill of Salomé and Wilde Salomé is here. The play has long been a passion project for the shouty actor, and there’s plenty of excellent Pacino ranting (“I got four days to shoot a 90-minute play!”) for those who like that sort of thing. In the title role is one Jessica Chastain. Her performance predates Zero Dark Thirty and The Tree Of Life, though it was purportedly this play that brought her to the attention of one Terrence Malick.
The original play sees the titular Salomé, daughter of King Herod, cultivate an obsession with John the Baptist, leading to dancing, pining and beheading. As Wilde himself wrote, “One should not look at anything. Neither at things, nor at people should one look. Unless it’s the trailer for my play, which one can watch below.”
The films are an intriguing mix of narrative and documentary – Salomé being a more straightforward adaptation of the stage play, while Wilde Salomé is an account of the efforts to make said play. The latter won the Queer Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival and is something of a spiritual sequel to Pacino’s 1996 documentary Looking For Richard, his rumination on Shakespeare’s Richard III.
To celebrate the release of both films – the play and the making of the play – Al Pacino and Jessica Chastain will be in conversation with Stephen Fry onstage in September. No word yet if Fry will be doing a dance of the seven veils, but we remain hopeful. If you’re in the mood for some hot headless action, head to the BFI Southbank – or one over 200 participating cinemas – on September 21. Head to the Cinestage website for a full rundown of all those nationwide cinemas.