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

Empire (Australasia) - - Contents - WORDS NICK DE SEMLYEN

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…

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