Adele: rise Of The mummy
A novelist-turnedinvestigative journalist delves into the world of crime and more.
NOW here is a comic bookto-film adaptation that has gone below the radar – The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc-Sec by French writer/artist Jacques Tardi. The movie will be released here on Thursday and goes by the title Adele: Rise Of The Mummy. Discerning cinemagoers might be wondering why the film is titled thus here but film titles have a tendency to change according to the market they are distributed to. Since very few people know about the French comic, the film’s distributor or the filmmakers themselves will think of an appropriate title to entice audiences around the world. But I digress ... The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc-Sec made its comic book debut in 1976 and is set in Paris in the years before and after World War I. The heroine is described as cynical and was originally a novelist before becoming an investigative journalist and delving into the world of crime, the occult and official incompetence, among other things. The film is directed by one of the most popular French directors, Luc Besson, who is responsible for such hit films as Nikita, Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element and Joan Of Arc. It stars Louise Bourgoin as the title character and she starts off her adventures by sailing to Egypt to tackle mummies. Back home, Paris, circa 1912, is under attack by a 136 million-year-old pterodactyl. Extraordinary adventures indeed! Besson, who is a fan of the comic book, took 10 years to get the project off the ground. One of the major obstacles was to convince Tardi that a film adaptation of his work could be done successfully. “I first fell in love with his heroine, Adèle, about 10 years ago. I tried to contact Tardi, but unfortunately he had agreed to do Adele with another director. At the time, I was a bit saddened, but pleased that he had chosen a ‘great’ director and wished him the best of luck. “I waited impatiently to see the movie, which never came out. After three or four years, I called Tardi and he told me he’d fallen out with that particular director and filmmakers in general. “He rejected the whole idea of a movie adaptation. I had to convince him to reconsider. We met several times. We needed to reassure him, prove our credentials and wait another year to buy back the rights that his agent had sold to someone else. “After six years of waiting and negotiating, Tardi finally agreed to sell me the rights to his Adele,” said Besson in the film’s production notes. Besson wrote the story for the film adaptation as well and remained faithful to Tardi’s original vision though he still looked to the creator for approval. “I wrote a first draft of the adaptation, staying very faithful to the comic book, Tardi’s universe and the underlying characteristics of Adele Blanc-Sec. “I gave my script to Tardi in a state of undisguised anxiety. It was nerve-wracking in the sense that he wrote the comic book and I had made his character my own by adapting it. But I got lucky because he read the script and said, ‘It’s great!’ He recognised his comic book and character, and at the same time discovered a film adaptation of them, not just the transposition of his story into moving pictures. That really won him over. The only change he asked for was the name of one of the characters,” said Besson.
Tardi, however, feels that it is impossible to remain faithful to the original work once it has been adapted. “I’d say no, it isn’t (faithful), because you have to accept that an adaptation is a betrayal – and after adapting a number of novels into a comic book format I know what I’m talking about. “When you change formats, you change the means of expression and the way of telling a story is different. A comic book is a succession of still images, snapshots that tell a story that the reader can come back to or linger over. “In a movie, the director controls time, sets the pace, decides to have a close-up of a face, an object, etc. “Then, there’s the concept of a series. When I start working on a story, I never manage to fall on my feet – it often goes off in all directions.
“In the end, I often fall back on the old serial-novel trick, ‘to be continued’. At the same time, I implicitly promise the readers things without actually knowing if I’ll be able to keep my promises. “In the movies, it’s different. You need an ending, even though you can leave open the possibility of a sequel. The narrative functions in different ways in movies and in comic books. “To my mind, the only thing movies and comic books have in common are pictures,” said Tardi. Although Tardi acknowledges the difference between a film and comic book, he still admired Besson for the task of adapting his work into a movie and had this to say after being on the set of the film. “(I have) great admiration for Luc Besson and the strong sense that it’s much easier to bring characters to life on paper!” said Tardi. – Compiled by Rizal Johan Adele: Rise Of The Mummy opens in Malaysian cinemas on Thursday.
The cynical investigative journalist Adele, played by Louise Bourgoin, coming face-to-face with an ancient mummy in