Besson reveals how Avatarinfluenced his latest project
James Cameron’s hugely successful 2009 sci-fi film Avatar had a dramatic impact on French director Luc Besson’s plans for his upcoming film.
This was revealed by Besson, one of the most commercially successful directors in France, during a recent tour to Beijing to promote his sci-fi epic Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets.
Besson, who is known for works that range from Natalie Portman’s debut movie The Professional and the sci-fi hit The Fifth Element to Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson, says that he dumped the script for Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets into a trash can after watching Avatar. “It was not good enough,” he says.
He then spent nine months rewriting the story, and recruited animators from across the world to design alien characters, but there was a twist in his creative process.
He did not tell the animators about each other and did not give them clear instructions about what he wanted. This was because Besson believes it is the best way to maximize creativity.
“The limit today is not technology, but imagination,” he says.
Around 90 percent of the characters in the film are aliens.
The movie features 3,236 alien species that speak more than 5,000 languages and make up a total galactic population of 2 million.
Besson says 70 percent of the aliens are new creations, while the rest are based on the original work on which the film is based.
For Besson, the movie is a tribute to Valerian and Laureline, one of the most popular sci-fi comic-book series in France and Europe.
Created by writer Pierre Christin and artist JeanClaude Mezieres between 1967 and 2010, the comics are about adventures of two agents who travel through space and time.
The comics are regarded as a phenomenon in the history of European pop culture, and influenced such sci-fi block- ValerianandTheCityofaThousandPlanets busters as the Star Wars franchise and Besson’s 1997 film The Fifth Element.
“The way they told stories is different from today,” says Besson, who says he even fell in love with the female character, the sexy-and-heroic Laureline.
Besson says his cast — led by American actor Dane DeHaan and British model-actress Cara Delevingne — will tempt the moviegoing public, who now mainly comprise youth.
One of the other reasons Besson loves the comic books is because the characters are unlike typical aliens. “Most aliens on the big screen are dark, scary creatures, but in the books the aliens are very funny and cute,” he says.
Besson says his sci-fi tale to some extent parallels the migrant crisis in Europe.
The aliens in his film co-exist harmoniously with other species in a fictional city in a futuristic world.
The mega production, which set to open in North America next July and has no China release date yet, is now in the post-production phase.
The Fifth Element had only 180 visual-effect shots, but Valerian and The city of A Thousand Planets has 2,740, Besson says.
“When I saw the technologies that came after The Fifth Element, I was pissed off. I always said then I would avenge this one day … This (film) is my avenger.”
But he also says digital effects in some senses hinder creativity.
“I need to work with actors, who give me a dimension that you cannot reproduce with a machine,” he says.
The Beijing event was Besson’s first public appearance in China since the Chinese company Fundamental announced it had become the second-largest shareholder in Besson’s EuropaCorp in September.
He was reluctant to provide details when asked about Chinese actor Kris Wu, who is also cast in Valerian.
He also says he would not like to direct films in China because he feels only homegrown directors can master the essence of their cultures and histories.
He says that just as he believes American directors cannot do justice to a French film, the best Chinese films can be made only by Chinese directors.
The limit today is not technology, but imagination.”
Luc Besson, French director The sci-fi epic about space adventures. is