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A Frequency: Tilda Swinton and Joanna Hogg on The Eternal Daughter | Interviews

TS: There’s another aspect, which is, you know, not everybody experiences this, but as a mother, there’s a whole question, when one has babies, of how to separate, how to manage that, and there are many erudite and extremely wise books written on this subject. How does one organize the separation? The disentanglement of one’s baby, and usually, we’re talking about that early, early experience. Sometimes when that hasn’t happened, it’s very difficult to say that it could ever happen perfectly, but when it hasn’t happened very effectively. Joanna and I have talked a lot about our mothers and mothers of their generation, with daughters of our generation, and how that separation is very often a little muddy, a little confused. So as a parent, also, there’s that question, how does one disentangle? How does one separate?

When you speak of the generations, are you referring specifically to women who grew up during WWII?

TS: When we’re discussing our mothers, yes. 

JH: But I don’t want to make it sound like it’s exclusive to those generations, because I don’t think it is. I think it’s a much more universal thing. I have to say, for myself, that the genesis of this story really came about through that inability–-and it was my inability and my mother’s inability–-to separate. I always felt, and I continue to feel a complete morphing of my mother and myself. I think it’s the sort of dynamic that most needs unpacking, in a way, but it’s something I continue to deal with. The core of the film was really about this woman, Julie, trying to separate at the stage of life that she’s in. I would say actually, Rosalind is also trying to separate because I sensed that from my mother actually. It would sometimes shock me as the daughter, you know, to sense that she wanted to pull away. But there were also times where I was so relieved. I was relieved because it’s a responsibility, it’s a huge responsibility being a daughter.

TS: I think in short it’s the sort of universal confusion about roles. I love particularly all the moments when we see Julie, sometimes slightly, desperately trying to look after her mother and doesn’t always work harmoniously. Then there’s that moment when Rosalind says Julie’s such a fusspot, which is so interesting, because on the one hand it is criticism, but on the other hand, there’s a sort of delight in it. That confusion about who is the child and who’s looking after who, we all have experienced. We all come to that point, if our parents live long enough to come to that point, all of us so we turn to our friends and say, “Well, I’ve started to look after him now, I’ve started to look after her now.” It’s complex and painful, as well. And it can start earlier than when they’re really on the way out. It can start really in that first moment when you take your parents out and you get the check. It’s sort of almost like a shock. But that happens to everybody. It’s completely universal.

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