Carol (2015) Poster



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The character of Carol Aird was inspired by Virginia Kent Catherwood (1915-1966), a Philadelphia socialite six years older than Patricia Highsmith with whom the author had a love affair in the 1940s. Catherwood lost custody of her daughter after her homosexuality was used against her with a taped recording of a lesbian liaison she had in a hotel room. ("'Instantly, I love her': the affairs that inspired Carol". The Telegraph, 28 November 2015)
Although Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara weren't required to be on the other end of the line whenever they talk on the phone, they offered to do so to help each other out. Thus whenever Carol and Therese talk to each other on the phone, Blanchett and Mara are really on the other end of the line.
Carol smokes cigarettes not only because it was commonly accepted in the times the movie is set, but also because the physical act of smoking is used as symbolism and as unspoken language. Carol is shown smoking when she is confident or flirtatious, and when she is anxious or constrained. However, Carol did not smoke on the road trip with Therese; neither in the car, nor in restaurants, motel and hotel rooms. Not smoking in these scenes conveyed that she felt happiness. You don't see Carol smoke again until she's back home and striving for joint custody of her daughter (scene with Abby), and when she meets Therese in the Ritz Tower Hotel restaurant.

Therese is shown smoking cigarettes when she is self-conscious, such as her first lunch date with Carol, or anxious during their drive back to the Drake Hotel in Chicago after their romance is found out. She was also shown holding a lit cigarette while picking through her box of photographs.
Rooney Mara's award season campaign caused controversy due to the studio's decision to place her in contention as supporting actress. Mara has 71 minutes of screen time, the percentage of her screen time to movie length is 60%. Cate Blanchett, nominated in the leading category, had 6 minutes less screen time than Mara, clocking in at 65 minutes, 54% of run time.
The novel "The Price of Salt" was inspired by a blonde woman in a mink coat (Mrs. E.R. Senn, née Kathleen Wiggins) who ordered a doll from Patricia Highsmith when she was working as a temporary salesgirl in the toy section of Bloomingdale's in New York City during the 1948 Christmas season. Highsmith recalled feeling "odd and swimmy in the head, near to fainting, yet at the same time uplifted, as if I had seen a vision." She completed the outline for the story in about two hours that same night, likely under the influence of chicken pox which she discovered she had the next day. Highsmith wrote in the Afterword for the 1990 new edition of the novel: "One of the small runny-nosed children there must have passed on the germ, but in a way the germ of a book too: fever is stimulating to the imagination." She completed "The Price of Salt" by 1951.
Carol was shot on Super 16 millimeter film to resemble the look and feel of photographic film from the late 1940s/early 1950s. The cinematography was influenced by the photojournalism of Vivian Maier, Ruth Orkin, Helen Levitt, and Esther Bubley. Photography by Saul Leiter (known for shooting through windows and using reflection) was a key influence.
The film is based on the romance novel "The Price of Salt" by Patricia Highsmith. Originally published in 1952 under the alias "Claire Morgan". After it fell out of print it was reissued in 1984 by lesbian publishing house Naiad Press. Highsmith denied rumors that she was the author for 38 years until she agreed to the publication of a new, retitled edition that included an afterword by her. "Carol" was published in the United Kingdom in 1990 by Bloomsbury Publishing under Patricia Highsmith's name. The novel sold nearly a million copies before the 1990 publication.
Rooney Mara has been a big fan of Cate Blanchett since she was 13 years old and described the experience working with Blanchett as "beyond a dream come true."
Rooney Mara had been offered the role of Therese after completing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) but she passed on the role due to weariness. Mia Wasikowska was then attached, but later left the project in order to do Crimson Peak (2015). Mara came on board again in 2013 when Todd Haynes signed on direct.
The film received a 10-minute standing ovation at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes) international premiere.
The three boys that run up to the model train set display in Frankenberg's toy department after Carol has walked away from it, are Dashiell, Roman and Ignatius Upton, the sons of Cate Blanchett and husband Andrew Upton.
Tessa Ross, former chief executive for Film4, was first to finance the film's development. In a 2014 interview with the London Evening Standard, Ross said the battle to get the film made lasted over 11 years. Then, in 2011, producer Elizabeth Karlsen, co-founder of Number 9 Films, acquired the film rights from the estate of Patricia Highsmith. When Todd Haynes was brought in as director, Christine Vachon of Killer Films joined the project as a producer.
The movie is set between Christmas season in 1952 through early 1953. In the New York Times office scene with Therese and photo editors the calendar on the wall is for the month of "April 1953", and in the note Carol wrote to Therese she asks her if they could meet that evening, "Friday, April 17". This lets the viewer know that 3-½ months have passed since Carol and Therese were last together.
The second adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel that Cate Blanchett' has starred in. The first was The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999).
Carol's classic fur coat was created from the fur of vintage coats, with the pieces of old fur sewn together. Costume designer Sandy Powell revealed that it "fell apart every single day, every single scene." [The Hollywood Reporter, January 26, 2016, "This Is How Cate Blanchett's 'Carol' Coat Came Together (and Fell Apart)"]
In the first major critical survey of LGBT films, conducted by the BFI in 2016, Carol was named the best LGBT film of all time. [British Film Institute, "The 30 Best LGBT Films of All Time," March 21, 2016]
Both Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara wore wigs throughout filming.
In a March 2016 interview with Terry Gross, Sarah Paulson mentioned that her role was "much more integral" in the original script and that much, to her regret, was cut.
Phyllis Nagy, who at the time she was approached to write the script was the writer in residence at the Royal Court Theatre in London, wrote the first draft in 1996. She spent almost two decades as the constant presence keeping the film project alive throughout financing problems.
Director Todd Haynes creates image books as a guide to the visual feel of his films, going back to his drama Safe (1995). The compendiums are culled from photographs, film stills, paintings, periodicals and other sources to generate ideas for the film's style. They are meant initially for the cinematographer. (The books are not to be confused with storyboards, the shot-by-shot breakdowns he has made since his first feature, Poison (1991).) His image books are "a way of communicating beyond words that gets to the crux of what the mood, temperature and stylistic references would be." For Carol "it becomes great reference for clothes, hair, makeup, the way women carry themselves in the period and the specificity of how they're being created from the outside in." The image book includes, for example, references to other films such as: Brief Encounter (1945) and Vertigo (1958) for their sense of period, and The Sugarland Express (1974) for its innovative cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond; Lovers and Lollipops (1956) for the locations and The Pumpkin Eater (1964) for the interiors; and urban photography by Ernst Haas, Helen Levitt and Vivian Maier. Haynes assembles his image books almost as a kind of visual mixtape, pulling photos and movie screen grabs of his inspirations and laying them out in pages of collages to create a kind of virtual movie. Haynes created more than 80 pages of photo collages for "Carol" that served as a road map through the production. It took him two months to compile. [from N.Y.Times 1/28/2016 "Todd Haynes Collects Images to Guide the Feel of His Films"]
In the scene where Therese and friends are watching a revival of Sunset Blvd. (1950) from inside the projectionist booth, Dannie, who's taking notes while watching the movie, tells Therese that he's "charting the correlation between what the characters say and how they really feel". This was an intentional line of dialog that observes the unspoken feelings that will develop between Carol and Therese.
With 5 nominations, it was the most nominated film at the Golden Globes in 2015.
Screenwriter Phyllis Nagy was friends with Patricia Highsmith, the author of the novel.
The novel "The Price of Salt" (aka "Carol") is written in the third person and entirely from Therese's point of view.
Todd Haynes got his cinematic references of the 1950s from the work of Ruth Orkin and Morris Engel, especially their film Lovers and Lollipops (1956).
The city of Cincinnati, Ohio, and surrounding areas doubled for 1950s New York City and New Jersey. Shot in the Spring of 2014, filming locations included Downtown Cincinnati, Eden Park, Hyde Park, Over-the-Rhine; and cities of Cheviot, Hamilton, Lebanon, and Wyoming. Additional filming locations included northern Kentucky: town of Alexandria.
"Carol" was produced in association with Dirty Films Ltd., a London-based film production company co-owned by Cate Blanchett and husband Andrew Upton.
In an interview for HitFix, Todd Haynes said that Cate Blanchett reminded him of actress Monica Vitti (in the role of Vittoria) in L'Eclisse (1962). Haynes made the connection to Vitti in the scene where Therese develops her photograph of Carol asleep, with a lock of hair on her cheek. The style and position of Carol's hair is similar to that of a sleeping Vittoria in a scene from the Italian film.
With the exception of the suit she wears in the bookends of the film, all of Rooney Mara's costumes are vintage, well-worn clothing. Her character would likely have re-worn the same clothes for years, and the vintage clothing provided that lived-in feeling. Because Carol comes from an upper class background - and because of the film's small budget - it would have been very difficult to secure vintage costumes in pristine condition at a low cost, so her clothes are recreations.
When Carol and Therese drive toward Carol's home for a first visit, the Lytle Tunnel in Cincinnati doubled for the Lincoln Tunnel connecting New York City and New Jersey. The tunnel measures 335 meters (approximately 0.21 miles). Because of its short length the drive through it had to be repeated several times, with the car circling back and going through the tunnel again. [source: Los Angeles Times, February 3, 2016, "What do Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara think of director Todd Haynes' favorite 'Carol' scenes?"]
Prior to production, director Todd Haynes compiled a playlist of 79 songs and instrumental music that were popular during the period Carol is set in (including songs referenced in the novel "The Price of Salt") to assist in further understanding the era and mood of the times. He distributed the CD collection to Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and other cast members, composer Carter Burwell, music supervisor Randall Poster, editor Affonso Gonçalves, production designer Judy Becker, cinematographer Edward Lachman, assistant director Jesse Nye, and producer Elizabeth Karlsen. [Listen: 3 Exclusive Playlists Of Music Compiled By 'Carol' Director Todd Haynes, Indiewire, January 6, 2016]
This is Todd Haynes and Cate Blanchett's second film collaboration, and Haynes and costume designer Sandy Powell's third film collaboration.
In the second letter Carol wrote to Therese, Carol asks her to meet on 17th April. Same date as Rooney Mara's birthday.
Automobiles: Carol's car is a 1949 Packard Super Deluxe 8 with a 327-cubic-inch Straight 8 Flathead engine and a three-speed gear shift on the steering column. It features a very rare "Egyptian" hood ornament. The hood opens either from the left or right side. The vehicle was leased to the production company by the owner after responding to an appeal by the Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Film Commission for early 1950s cars, cabs, trucks and buses. Harge's car is a 1952 Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood Limousine. Abby's car is a 1950 Packard Custom Eight convertible. The yellow-and-red taxis seen parked or moving in several scenes are a 1950 Chevrolet and a 1949 Dodge.
Earlier in the film the black and white movie being shown in the projector room scene is Sunset Blvd. (1950) in which Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) is a 50-year-old silent film star chasing after Joe Gillis (William Holden), a younger man half her age. Although some might speculate that it was meant to allude to the age difference between Carol (who is in her early-30s) and Therese (who is 21 years old), the scene from Sunset Boulevard was included because it is Phyllis Nagy's favorite film. She explained in an interview for The Film Experience: "It was Joe in that particular scene. It's my favorite movie, I have to get it into everything I do, and that scene in particular was the scene I chose in the script, and so it's Joe, who in that scene, is not actually saying what he means, until actually much later."
John Crowley was attached to direct when the movie was announced in 2012.
Phyllis Nagy has written two films in her whole career. Both titles consist of female names.
Carol smokes cigarettes in 9 scenes of the film, a total of 6 minutes and 23 seconds.
Rooney Mara (Therese Belivet) coincidentally has the same first name as the author of Carol (Patricia Highsmith). Her full name is Patricia Rooney Mara. Highsmith created the character of Therese from her own life experiences.
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In the mid-1960s, a treatment of Patricia Highsmith's novel was written for the screen, with Lana Turner envisioned as the title character. It is unclear whether Turner was ever approached about the role, but her involvement would have generated great controversy, given the impossibility of a mainstream star playing a lesbian in a film of this era. A previous treatment of the novel, written in 1952, had altered the name and gender of the title character from "Carol" to "Carl" in order to adhere to the strict Hays Code which was in force at the time. In the end, however, this version did not make it to the screen either, and it would be over 60 years until the novel was finally adapted successfully in 2015.
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The film is based on a book originally entitled The Price of Salt. There are at least two explanations, both Bible-related, of this title. One, from screenwriter & friend, Phyllis Nagy, is that it is a reference to Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salt when she looks back at Sodom. A Highsmith biographer says it refers to Matthew 5:13, perhaps more so in the verse's fragment found in The Counterfeiters by Andre Gide, with its sense that adding spice to one's life will have a cost to pay.
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The journalist in New York Times is the cameraman.
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Well known British swing band, The Jive Aces, were asked to perform in the party scene, but unfortunately scheduling didn't work out.
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Both Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara said that they had great chemistry on set and filming their love scene was relatively easy. Blanchett credited director Todd Haynes for making her and Mara feel comfortable. "There was a lot of trust on the set between Rooney and Todd and Todd and I and he was very clear about how he wanted to shoot it and what parts he was going to use so we all felt very safe."
The first kiss scene shot between Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara was the scene where Carol and Therese have returned to the Drake Hotel and make love for the last time before Carol leaves the next morning to go back home.

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