Adele: rise Of The mummy

A nov­el­ist-turned­in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist delves into the world of crime and more.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Un­pleas­ant en­counter:

The cyn­i­cal in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist Adele, played by Louise Bour­goin, com­ing face-to-face with an an­cient mummy in


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