Luc Besson Interview
Having worked in the film industry for nearly 30 years as a writer, producer and director, cinema fans all over the world are familiar with the work of Luc Besson. He has been involved in the making of around 50 films and has created several cult and box office hits, including Joan of Arc, Leon, Nikita and The Fifth Element. Renowned for his reputation for producing blockbusting French-style Hollywood cinema, his enormous body of work and many awards are testament to his success both in France and across the globe.

In London to promote about his latest creation, an adaptation of the classic French comic books by Jacques Tardi, View’s Matthew Turner spoke to him about the inspiration behind filming Adele Blanc-Sec, Louise Bourgoin and her comedy character skills and the secret behind making a good Egyptian mummy.

Was this something you had always wanted to make?

Luc Besson

No, no. I'm a spoiled child, in fact, because I have a lot of freedom and I keep my freedom to follow my desires. It's very important [that] I'm not linked to anything. Two years ago, I made a black and white film in French when everybody expected me to do the sequel to The Fifth Element or whatever. But I love this freedom to be able to bring something new, otherwise you're stuck in the system. You have that in Hollywood, a lot. You know, and you're stuck there – yeah, you make a great film, a big film but then you can't escape, you know? And [with] Adele, I just wanted to do a fresh, non-pretentious, sweet comedy-action. I have this desire, maybe because of this crisis that we have all around the world and it's so heavy for everyone, you just want to say to everybody, 'Okay, let's have some fun, let's have fun ...'
And it's nice to say to young women, 'Hey girls, look at your grandmother!'

Luc Besson

Yeah. When I did Leon and Nikita, especially in Europe, it was very bourgeois, very healthy and very conventional and you just want to kick some ass, you know?
So were you not a big fan of the comic books then?

Luc Besson

Yeah, yeah, I'm a big fan. I read them when I was 17 years old but never thought about making a film of it. And then I read them again, ten years ago. It was very cold in the winter and I had nothing to do, so I grabbed a couple of comics to read again. And I'd totally forgotten and I said, 'My God, the character is so fresh and so modern, in a way. We have to remember the people in 1912, the women couldn't vote, they couldn't do sports - it's forbidden. They can't smoke, they have a corset all day long. It was very, very restrictive. Very. And then we have Adele, who's cursing, smoking in her bath. Cursing with mummies and she doesn't care about even the President of the Republic – she doesn't care, you know? And that's the first free woman of the century, in a way. And it's nice to – especially the young women – to say, 'Hey girls, look at your grandmother!'
I went out and bought the first book after seeing the film and I've read the pterodactyl book and I think your version is actually better. It's a really great adaptation.

Luc Besson

I mean, he [Jacques Tardi] wrote that in 1978, so ...
But still, there's much more to your story than there is to his – I was actually quite disappointed when I read the Tardi original ....

Luc Besson

Yes. But you did it the wrong way. Normally you're supposed to read the book and then you love it and then after you see the film and you love it also. But if you go reverse ...
How did the decision come about to combine the first and fourth books?

Luc Besson

First, the characters. It's Adele, for sure. I like the villain – you need a villain, even if we see him just at the beginning and just at the end, but you need to have one. And then you need to have a purpose to the entire thing. And you have the sister, kind of, not the same way. I wanted something emotional for her. All our heroes are always fighting to save the world, save humanity, save capitalism. They always have such a big purpose. She just wants to save her sister, that's it. She doesn't care about the world. [Laughs]
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Content updated: 21/08/2011 04:58

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