Co-writer Eskil Vogt discusses approaching genre cinema for the first time, depicting characters’ interiority on screen, and his collaboration with director Joachim Trier. This is the first feature in our Special Issue on Thelma. Read the rest of the issue here.
Thelma is the fourth film by Norwegian auteur Joachim Trier and his first foray into genre cinema. It’s the story of a religious young woman entering adulthood who manifests strange powers after falling in love with a female classmate. Trier has also re-teamed with cinematographer Jakob Ihre and editor Olivier Bugge Coutté — all of whom have worked on all of Trier’s features. For our first feature in our Special Issue on Thelma, we interviewed Trier’s longtime screenwriting partner, Eskil Vogt, who has co-written all of Trier’s films with him.
7R: Thelma seems to owe a lot to Carrie. Oslo, August 31st was a retelling of Le Feu Follet. How do you think about writing these films as retellings or adaptations?
EV: We had a long time ago seen and loved the Louis Malle film [Le Feu Follet] and then discovered that there was so much else in that book that felt very contemporary and different from Louis Malle’s film. That was something Joachim and I talked about regularly. The structure of that book was a perfect tool for that kind of story where we wanted to film Oslo today. It became a very free adaptation.
When it comes to Thelma, it was never like, “Now we’re going to make a Norwegian Carrie“. It wasn’t the idea at all. But we were very inspired, in the beginning, by both Brian De Palma and Stephen King. When we started to make the story about this girl who had these seizures, understanding it was a story about repression, it kind of worked itself into the story that she came from a religious family.