Angelina Jolie Says Her New Film Embraces the Western Genre

by Caitlin Berard

After decades in front of the camera, Angelina Jolie has spent the last decade honing her skills on the other side of filmmaking as a director. The Maleficent star now has five full-length movies under her belt, the most recent of which is a film adaptation of the gripping 2008 novel Without Blood, written by Italian author Alessandro Baricco.

According to Angeline Jolie, the inspiration for the film came after a particularly powerful experience reading Baricco’s novel. “I read it right as I was going through the beginning of a very dark time in my life,” Jolie recalled in an interview with Variety. “I read it in the month that followed my divorce [from Brad Pitt in 2016].”

“It had the effect on me that it’s had on so many people,” Jolie said, commenting on the book’s poignant depiction of the human condition. “I didn’t understand that when I first read it. I just knew the book had a profound effect on me. It’s one of those pieces of art, of somebody’s intuition and mind, that puts something forward that has so much truth in it about who we are as people.”

Angelina Jolie on Embracing the Western Genre

Angelina Jolie’s budding directorial career has revealed that the actress has a particular fondness for historical drama. Her films have touched on WWII, the Bosnian War, and the Khmer Rouge’s invasion of Cambodia. And while By the Sea doesn’t involve war, it does take place in 1970s France.

It’s no surprise, then, that Jolie’s newest film is a historical drama as well. Without Blood follows a young girl’s quest for vengeance following the brutal murder of her father and brother. The film is set in an unnamed place that appears to be Mexico and stretches from the 1920s to the ’70s.

The film is a “hybrid” of nationalities and genres. However, Jolie revealed that it leans toward “a western,” adding that the cast and crew have “embraced” the genre. “This film raises questions,” the director explained. “There is no clear good and bad in this film. Even though there is clearly bad, horrible, horrific and criminal behavior.”

“It’s quite extraordinary,” Jolie said of the original story. “Baricco gives almost every single character a memory, a history, many textures. So it’s almost impossible to see where one ends and the other begins.”

“The reality of these never-ending wars we have has helped me to look at violence and trauma and revenge in very different ways,” she added. “And there is no easy answer.”

Without Blood was filmed in variations locations in Italy but is currently in post-production in Los Angeles. As of now, it’s slated for a late 2023 completion.