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Filmography • The History of Love
  • Cast Highlights:
  • Derek Jacobi
  • Elliott Gould
  • Torri Higginson
  • Sophie Nélisse
  • Character: Alma
    Production Status: On DVD & Blu-ray (France)
    Release Date: November 7, 2016 (France)
    Director: Radu Mihaileanu
    Writers: Nicole Krauss (novel), Radu Mihaileanu (screenplay), Marcia Romano (writer)
    Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
    MPAA Rating: n/a

    Plot Outline:
    What if a book written before World War II in a little village in Eastern Europe could shine through the years, crossing continents and surviving violent conflicts, to guide the journey of three generations? This book is entitled The History of Love. New York, the 21st century. Leo, an old Polish Jewish immigrant, lives with the memory of the great love of his life. Despite his painful history, he cheerfully navigates life’s ups and downs with indefatigable, crazy humour, alongside his best friend Bruno. Across town, in Brooklyn, teenage Alma is determined to find the ideal man for her mother to remarry. Always in control, she is staggered to find herself falling for her handsome classmate Misha and discovering love for the first time. Nothing seems to link old Leo and young Alma. And yet… From Poland in the 1930s to Ellis Island, from Chile to Central Park, the manuscript of “the most loved woman in the world” will travel through time to unite their destinies. After The Concert, Radu Mihaileanu returns with a joyful, tender and deeply moving saga.

    Gemma’s Role:
    Gemma plays Alma Mereminski.

    “Alma is a person of rare candor and intelligence. If she lived in our time, she’d no doubt be a brilliant literary editor. When she lived in Poland and she was young, she was unconquerable and indomitable. Yet, after all the horrors she’s gone through, she’s become more gloomy and she’s quieted down. She’s always consumed by this devouring love, whether it’s her love for children, for literature or for Leo. She’s a strong and passionate woman.”

    Gemma started reading the screenplay as soon as she received a letter from Radu Mihaileanu. She said to herself that this story was of an extraordinary amplitude and beauty. She knew of Radu’s films and she had seen The Concert, which she regards as his most universal story. She’s seen almost all of his films since then. Radu impresses her a lot. He has a true connection with his Jewish roots. When they met for the first time, Arterton dreamed of starring in a big romantic film like Out of Africa. The role of Alma came just at the right time.

    Gemma considers that it was a challenge to adapt Nicole Krauss’ book, but she thinks that the screenplay is very faithful to the novel. “Alma Mereminski is the heart of this amazing story. She’s not perfect, but she has something very pure and strong about her. When she’s young, she’s a bit of a spoiled little girl, but she’s playful, full of love and passionate.” Alma was a character that Arterton wanted to play, because she had to play a woman from ages 18 to 75, in three different periods of time.

    Gemma worked hard on her accent with a really good coach in England. She watched a number of interviews of camp survivors and she’s learned Yiddish. She’s also done research on the period and New York. Arterton has Polish Jewish roots. Even though she’s an atheist, it’s something that she carries with her and that added to her emotions. Radu Mihaileanu is very proud of his origins and she wanted to give him the best of herself.

    The History of Love is the story of a crazy and unique love. Leo is crazy in love with Alma. “It’s rare. He does everything for her.” Gemma thinks that it’s wonderful because, nowadays, she thinks that people tend to forget about the power of love. “Maybe is it idealistic to believe that one can love someone their entire life? Alma is always honest and frank, so, when Leo comes back, she tells him that she’s married and that she has children. It’s heartbreaking. I admire her for staying with her husband because of them and sacrificing her life as a woman. But, at the same time, it’s so sad. I’d like to be a bit like Alma, but I’m not like her at all!”

    Gemma doesn’t know if she’s ever felt like the “the most loved woman in the world”. She thinks that it can be a heavy burden. Does she think Alma feels privileged to be “the most loved woman in the world”? “I think that it’s wonderful to feel loved. For all that, it’s terrible and tragic to think that they’ve been separated most of their lives and that Leo has suffered so much because of her.”

    Gemma believes that this film deals with essential values. She hopes that it’ll do others good and give them hope. “Whenever a disaster occurs, messages of love follow. Nowadays, we forget that only love can save us. Fortunately, there are always people who believe in life.”

    What Gemma will retain from this experience is the fact that she’s proud that she had to dig into her Jewish origins and she hopes that her ancestors would have been proud of her.

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