• Golden Globe Awards

Winners Circle 2022: Nominee Profile 2022: Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”

Anyone looking back into the history of the moving picture would find a long list of films about how women live, think, feel, love, and hate, directed and written by men. For filmmaker Jane Campion, diving deep into the world of pure masculinity in The Power of the Dog – in the Wild West, of all places – was an exercise in subtlety and creativity that balances the narrative.
“I am a creative person”, Campion said at the 2021 Venice International Film Festival.  “I don’t calculate about gender; it has to be this or that.  But I read this book and I just thought wow, this is an amazing piece of literature.  It had a really powerful impact on me because I really believed in the world that Thomas Savage described there, I believed he really lived it.  And so that enabled me to really travel deeply into it.”
Campion read the book back in 2018, and her first reaction was “it’s a good book”. As a filmmaker known for her restless yet precise visual language, Campion became enthralled by the many layers of the novel sensibility clearly seen in her films.  “Over the next few weeks scenes and themes from the book kept coming back to me so that I couldn’t forget it”, she said.   “And I realized then that this is a really deep piece that works on the psyche and it’s very interesting and very different.”
With a long and distinguished career of works about women, from The Piano and Bright Star to the limited series Top of the Lake (and four previous Golden Globe nominations), the native of Wellington, New Zealand, took all her skills and vision to weave the tale of Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch), the powerful and mercurial of two brothers (Jesse Plemons, the other brother, George) who inherited a cattle ranch in the mid-1920s. In this world created and ruled by men enters Rose, a widowed woman (Kirsten Dunst) and her young son (Kodi Smith-McPhee) – and, slowly but inevitably, things change, deeply.
“I think as a woman I was really interested in Rose’s role and amplifying it as much as I could in the story within the context of her being a woman from 1925, which is not the same as today”, Campion explained at the Venice International Film Festival.  “I didn’t want to make her a heroine, I think at that time it was very difficult for Rose to complain to her husband George, to complain about his brother, who lived in the house.  And Rose’s politeness and also her sense of I guess lack of confidence, which would make her think oh I am a target because there’s something wrong with me.  And that sense of shame that would build to a point where there was really nowhere for her to go but to try and live this through.”
At this year’s Venice Film Festival, she won the Silver Lion for best director and The Power of the Dog took home the Golden Lion for best film in competition. Now she stands with two nominations at the 79th Golden Globes, one for best director, one for having written one of the best screenplays of the year.