Laughter is the Best Medicine

How Love Begins in ‘Queen & Slim’ | Anatomy of a Scene

Hi, I’m Melina Matsoukas. I’m the director
of ‘Queen and Slim’ and also one of the producers. This scene is when
Daniel Kaluuya, who plays Slim, and Queen,
Jodie Turner-Smith, first fall in love. It represents
their second date, but also a moment that
they are so determined to have because they might
not make it to the end. They may not be afforded
another chance to dance, to connect, and ultimately,
to fall in love. “Oh, I don’t drink.” “Maybe you should start.” The space is a juke joint,
but it represents for them a safe haven, a place
where they are connected. Thus, I named it
The Underground after The
Underground Railroad. I’ve always thought
of their journey as representing a reverse
slave escape narrative as they are black fugitives
running from the north traveling south. They are protected here in
the womb of their community, and they utilize this
fleeting moment of safety to connect, and
ultimately, to fall in love for the first time. The production
design of the space was modeled after
the photography of Birney Imes, who
photographed the deep south. And he has a book
on juke joints that I modeled some
of the design after. But I also modeled it after
these beautiful hand-painted landscapes that mark
many shelters in Jamaica, particularly outside of
Kingston on my favorite beach called Hellshire Beach. I wanted the design to
speak to the black diaspora as well as the American
South and all the subtle ways in which the black
community is connected. [MUSIC PLAYING] The scene was
scripted as if it was meant to be their first
dance at their wedding. I remembered the feeling
of watching ‘West Side Story,’ one of my
favorite films. And when Tony sees
and dances with Maria for the first
time, how they’re in this bubble shutting
the world out around them. And I wanted Queen and
Slim to feel the same way in that moment. Another reference for this
scene was ‘In the Mood for Love.’ I wanted them to feel
shrouded in that love and in that light
and the color and in these languid, poetic
moments in a similar way as Wong Kar-wai
was so beautifully able to paint in his film. We also used Steadicam
to dance with the actors. We had set up the space so
we could see and rotate 360 without seeing
ourselves or equipment as I wanted the camera
to feel like part of the choreography. I wanted to use these long,
languid shots to pull you into this moment. This is also one
of the few times we used a few slow motion shots. It was important to make
this moment somewhat surreal so as to mirror
the feeling you get when you’re lost in love
and the world’s slowing down around you. There’s no one else in
the room as they dance, not literally,
but figuratively. The music drops out and we
bring in for the first time this beautifully
composed theme which represents their love. We call it the
‘Love Theme’ and it was composed by our amazing
composer, Dev Hynes. [MUSIC – DEV HYNES, ‘LOVE
THEME’] “What do you want?” “I want a guy to
show me myself. I want him to
love me so deeply I’m not afraid to show
him how ugly I can be. I want him to show me
scars I never knew I had.” It was a choice I
made in the edit to take their words from
the next scene and lay them over
this first dance so it’s as if you can feel
and hear her thoughts as she’s experiencing them
in real time. “And I want him to cherish the
bruises they leave behind.” And as the song ends and
the people around them cheer the bands,
it’s as if they are applauding their love. This takes them
back into real time and they leave
together, connected and as one for the first
time in their story. [CHEERING] [MUSIC – DEV HYNES, ‘LOVE
THEME’] “We should go.”

37 thoughts on “How Love Begins in ‘Queen & Slim’ | Anatomy of a Scene

  1. saw the film, and glad I did. bitter sweet, tragic, infuriating – all of the above! a beautiful love story depiction

  2. Hello My Loves! I just want yall to know that ppl walked out of the movie theater crying & cussing because of how the 2 CHARACTERS were not able to "make it" out of the white superiority of the world! WHY COULDNT YALL LET THEM ESCAPE TO CUBA AND BE free???? And why did yall make the BLACK GUY THE CULPRIT….TO THE COUPLE WHO WERE JUST DEFENDING THEMSELVES FROM DEATH…BE THE SELL OUT TO OUR COMMUNITY? Please discuss this, cuz we are hurting over this reality!!!!

  3. I’m getting some strong Blackkklansman vibes here. Two wonderful dance scenes from two of the best movies of the past two years.

  4. The film was so underwhelming for so many reasons, It was obvious that the writer had an agenda other than telling a real story about police brutality… The Effort to promote the strength of a dark skin feminist black woman is great but it was over done to a point where she wasn’t even human and what’s worst is that they chose to make the black man less masculine in order to highlight her strength… There were other odd moments of the movie but I don’t wanna ruin it… This film will not age well

  5. LGBT Gestapo Demands Stop Christmas because the Bible says homosexuality is a sin. Everyone who reads about it in the Bible by ear, is required to be imprisoned for violating the rules of the LGBT Gestapo.

  6. Such a beautiful, surprisingly funny, yet heartbreaking story. Watched it twice. This scene watching them allow themselves to fall in love will be on my mind for a long time

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