INTERVIEW – The director of Saint Laurent takes the plane to New York to campaign for his film at the Academy Awards . For Le Figaro , he returned without waffling on the stormy scenes that surrounded the release of the biopic dedicated to the great couturier.
France selected Saint Laurent , in theaters tomorrow, to represent it at the Oscars. A choice presqu’évident in all relevant cases. About it – a great fashion – and its author – a talented filmmaker – embody in their own way the French establishment in what she may have bolder. “The committee felt that the film could travel and it is a great pride and honor, of course, says Bertrand Bonello. I think that Sony Pictures Classics, a large distributor, has bought the film before Cannes was a sine qua non. I do not know what exactly will happen now, but I think we’ll start some kind of campaign. I’ll soon know because I’m leaving Sunday to the New York Festival … “Before boarding the plane, Bertrand Bonello meets the Figaro without jargon. Traps biopic, the conflict with Pierre Bergé, the competing project Lespert Pierre Niney, selection at Cannes …
LE FIGARO – Why make a film about Yves Saint Laurent while you ‘re not a fan of the biopic genre?
Bertrand Bonello – The biopic has become a highly codified genre and resembles Wikipedia. However, the accumulation of informative skits is not a movie, by wanting to show everything, it tells nothing. Moreover, streamline want an exceptional person or a star to explain that it is actually a normal person, I’m not interested. I understand the desire to build empathy in most biopics, but I do not see the point of wanting to drop the mystery. What is beautiful cinema, it’s still the mystery. My goal is not to kill the myth St. Lawrence but, instead, to enjoy it, or even to add more. My intention was not to make a film loaded with revelations addition to finding truth through lies. Pierre Bergé is also the first to defend the imagination of a writer. I’d love to see that film and he sends me a note saying he was hit.
Origin of, in this case, the opposition Pierre Bergé in your project?
I do not want to meet with Pierre Bergé before having a clear vision of the film I wanted to do. There certainly was a blunder on my part that has responded to misunderstandings. Clumsiness in misunderstanding, it comes quickly to letters from lawyers. There was a moment of tension because of that. We met later, too late, and he wished me a good shooting, saying he was sure that I get to make a quality film. We had some exchanges during assembly and before Cannes. Now I’m looking forward he sees.
Pierre Bergé has preferred to give its imprimatur to film Lespert Pierre Niney. ..
Yes, but the draft Lespert arrived much later. It was played between them and us a run and an economic war in which I did not want to go home. We did not want to rush the film and preferred to let pass. I did not see because I do not want to get into the game comparisons but I do not see how they could have technically successful in going as fast. We played another time and we had the opportunity to be selected at Cannes … By dint of doing previews and hear the reactions of the audience, I realize that the two films are much more complementary than competitive.
Before choosing Gaspard Ulliel, had you been testing
Yes go to Pierre Niney? but I found it too young. Not at the beginning of the film, but for the entire period in 1976, it lacked weight and experience. The incarnation, it’s very difficult. I asked questions. Should we play the resemblance? Fiction? I experimented with actors who do not look at all like Saint Laurent, it did not work, it became too theoretical. I had a craving for classicism. Besides the resemblance, Gaspard convinced me by his desire not to be in imitation, play interpretation. I told him I was going to shoot him and not Yves. For all these reasons, Gaspard quickly became obvious.
This is the first one you write with a co-writer, in this case Thomas Bidegain (including screenwriter Jacques Audiard). How did you feel?
This was the only request of my producers. They said: “We would like you to write with someone a little tough.” I said why not. We did not know each with Thomas. At our first meeting he told me that he had nothing to do with fashion and biopic. I told him we were going to hear. After two hours, it was as if we knew each other for two years. It was exactly the same age, we have seen the same movies at the same time, listening to the same music. We quickly worked out the structure and shared a lot like a game of ping-pong.
Have you a lot of research
Yes. For a biopic, I think you have read everything, then throw it in the garbage. In some places, it is to lie, to others it takes a real accuracy. I wanted to the greatest accuracy for the apartment in the Rue de Babylone, because I think it says something obsessions and aesthetics of St. Lawrence. At other times, it is important, even necessary, to take liberties.
At what point did you decide to tell the St. Laurent years 1967-1976
I tried several tracks at first. Is 24 hours, it would not be interesting? Or three days ?, or show only collection? The decade 1966-1976 concentrates the highs and lows the creation of the night. This contrast is at its peak. There in Saint Laurent young man side at 30 years old and already damaged and 40. Ten years is both a period but it is still very long. The question is how to treat these ten years. And if the film lasts 2:30, it’s because I think it takes time to talk about the passing of time. The films that talk about the weather are generally long and the film ends up talking about the weather so Proustian.
Why did you wanted to show an aged Saint Laurent in the guise of Helmut Berger’s favorite actor Luchino Visconti
I also wanted to evoke the period 1989-1990 in the third act. From the writing with Thomas Bidegain, I had the idea to do play by Helmut Berger. In 1989, Yves happened elsewhere, Yves is another. Let literal change of actor. And the first name that came was that of Helmut Berger. Voiced by Gaspard, this ensures continuity voice.
Is it to avoid the effect of Wikipedia biopic that you have cut the story in long sequences
I wanted to scenes in which we moved. I like more and more as a spectator and as a director, the blocks of time, space, time. Leaves not return to a subject. The economy, I never once mentioned to show that in fashion, art and business are closely linked. I try to do a movie scene. Same for The Seven, the nightclub where Yves was every night. One sequence shows, I try to create a mood. The life of Saint Laurent in itself is exciting. This is a guy who draws, goes to September and Marrakech. The romance of Yves Saint Laurent, this is not his day. The film has forced me to ask questions that would not have occurred to me if I had to invent a character. These constraints are challenging biopic.
The film is almost a closed session. You never show Saint Laurent in the real world …
There are no sequences outside for three reasons. To avoid having the Renault period which is still cheap. For financial reasons, because I’d rather put the money elsewhere. And finally, to enclose Yves, cut the outside and the real world. It is in a bubble that is his folly. A mental space. I could hardly imagine walking down the street. Instead, I wanted to extract the world.
The choice of 35 mm, is to accentuate the unreality of the world of Saint Laurent
In addition to the beauty of the grain, it has another virtue: the concentration of people. Since it is known that the film is rare and is expensive, the attention of the team is maximum. Like his excitement. In digital, you can turn all day.
How to shoot dresses and parades without falling in the catalog
recreated a workshop with small hands that are the ones seen in the film. We reconstituted the parade 1971 and 1976, which is a crazy job, although I took a lot of fun to go to the shop to see them working. After the question was how to shoot a parade other than how does the television. For the parade of late, I have had the idea of split screen two three days before. I angoissais lot and I realized that I did not show dresses or models but a table. All the people I met who attended the parade spoke to me in a general sense, much of the beauty of the dresses.
Even so fleeting, you talk about the news of the time …
It was a way of saying, “Yes, it is exciting to shoot someone who dresses but there are also other things that happen in the world. ” One can be in love with his subject while keeping a lucidity and a critical distance. I wanted to show that Saint Laurent is disconnected from politics, at a time when the world is very politicized.
Saint Laurent has its own world, and it is dark and tormented …
I did not invent it, I even think that I am far below reality. There in Saint Laurent something about the pure melancholy. I find it touching because it is mixed with very creative. There would be only darkness, it would be creepy. Beyond Saint Laurent, I talk about what it costs to want to do a book, a film, a work. As for the melancholy, depression, it affects everyone. I think it is a very easy entry point for people, that there was not in my other films. I remember one of my first conversations with EuropaCorp (distributor of the film, ie) – you would think that it is the marriage of carp and rabbit! I tried to defend my film, speaking of women, dresses … They cut me and said they had read the script. They are said to me: “This is a great film about depression is that it should be treated.” I said okay!
Your next film there will be an anti-biopic
It will be a very contemporary short film. Almost action movie, which starts on terrorist acts in Paris perpetrated by a gang of youths. I wrote it and I have the title: Paris is a feast .
Those who want more information on the case will go to Bonello Centre Pompidou see Resonances, an exhibition conceived by musician training, presented as part of the Festival d’Automne in Paris, until 26 October .