VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS
LUC BESSON IS BACK WITH ANOTHER BIG AND BALLSY SCI-FI FLICK, VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS. HE TALKS US THROUGH THE MENAGERIE OF ALIENS WE’LL MEET IN AUGUST
Stop, Luc, listen: Besson tells us all about the amazing creatures who festoon his new movie.
“SOME OF THE DESIGNS GOT REALLY INSANE,”
says Luc Besson. “A few times I wanted to call the police and say, ‘You should lock this guy up. He’s crazy!’” The French auteur is casting his mind back to the extraordinary pre-production period for his new movie, mad sci-fi epic Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets, a process which took five years, involved 1,000 Skype sessions, and yes, nearly saw a few of Besson’s underlings wheeled off in straitjackets. “We had a back-up team in place,” he continues, “because I figured after two years the first bunch would be cooked.”
The movie, an adventure involving space-cops Valerian (Dane Dehaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne), is based on the world created by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-claude Mézières over 29 graphic novel albums, released between 1967 and 2010. But while some of its elements are pulled directly from the books, Besson’s aim was to make its setting — the Alpha space station in the year 2750 — the vastest, richest environment ever seen in a sci-fi movie. “We sent letters to design schools all around the world, saying, ‘We’re going to make a big sci-fi film. If you’re interested, send one drawing of an alien, one drawing of a spaceship and one drawing of a world,’” he says. “We received nearly 4,000 replies and picked the best 10 people. They didn’t know anything about the story, and weren’t allowed to communicate with each other — the only person they could see was me on a webcam, once a week. It was so pure. No limitations.”
Slowly, Alpha came together. A weighty tome, which Besson refers to as his “bible”, outlines the entire 700-year history of the space station. “We have 10 pages for each kind of alien,” he thrills. “What they eat, how they reproduce, everything. You even have their address. Wanna check out what’s going on in the constellation QN34? Look it up!”
While we can’t publish the entirety of that bible — it remains locked in a Parisian vault, plus you really don’t want to know how the Doghan Daguis reproduce — Besson is happy to spill some of the secrets of his out-there creations…