|zakka.dk / euroscreenwriters/ interviews with european directors / Leos Carax   /|
- Interviews with European Film Directors
- Interviews with Famous Screenwriters
- Articles for the Working Screenwriter
- Research Links
- Directing & Writing Quotes for Inspiration
- The World Famous 5 Minute Film School
:COP15 media service for journalists
:stock photos of copenhagen
: Copenhagen Cycle Chic Blog
: The Slow Bicycle Movement
Interview with Leos Carax
Its been eight years since 'Les Amants du Pont-Neuf.' Where did you go?
- To hell.
After three films based on original material, youre now adapting a novel. Why?
- My first three films werent 'original subjects!' On the contrary, they were three variations on the least original theme possible: 'Boy Meets Girl'. Original subjects often make very bad films, that are falsely original.
How did you discover Herman Melvilles 'Pierre, or the Ambiguities'?
- At the age of 19 or 20, through my friend Elie Poicard. I immediately thought 'this is my book.'
Like Dumas 'Twenty Years After' or 'The Vicomte of Bragelonne' during my childhood... or 'The Magic Mountain' during adolescence... or some books by Céline and James 'The Wings of the Dove' in later years. But 'Pierre' more than any other.
I would reread it every five years or so. That doesnt mean its a book I understand. Otherwise I would never have considered turning it into a film. I perceive 'Pierre' in the same way that I perceive my own life: I understand both 'poorly' but Im obliged to explore them. Thats what a project is: a heavy question mark. Youre the dot under that mark and you mustnt let it crush you.
At the heart of the book, theres this extraordinary relationship between a brother and a sister, Pierre and Isabelle.
- Between a brother and a 'maybe sister'. But my first films were all on the theme 'a boy meets a sister'. The girl or the woman was less a real lover than a 'soul sister'... a soul, or almost a ghost.
Nothing touches me more than the word 'sister'.
In 'The Man Without Qualities', Robert Musil describes the relationship between Ulrich and Agathe as 'the last possible love'. Thats also how I see POLA X.
- Its the relationship with what seems to have become impossible. The reunion with part of yourself that you thought was lost for good or permanently hidden. Isabelle or Pierre, theres no difference. At one point, I even considered calling the film 'Pierre; or, Isabelle'. Or 'The Lost Presence'.
How have you 'adapted' the novel?
- You dont adapt novels but rather the enduring sensation that they leave you with. Theres one thing that people rarely talk about and yet is vital in our lives: dreaming. I dont mean night dreams but daydreams. They are mans best companion, wonders of existence. Thoughts often travel through them and then settle. Reading also does this: the eyes leave the page for a second and were off on a thousand journeys, a thousand projects. That said, a film isnt a dream.
But at the origins of a film, there is this feeling, like 'déjà-vu', like 'a memory of the present'.
Then, through the writing and shooting stages, you investigate this feeling of 'déjà-vu'.
In the novel, Isabelle comes from France. In your film, she is from Eastern Europe, probably the Balkans. I learnt that you yourself went there several times during the war.
- The reasons that men give for going to countries at war are often fairly
shady... But what happened in Bosnia coincided with the rebirth of the
project. And Isabelle comes from that chaos. The implosion of all origins,
all the elements that make up man. She is like one of the corpses in Abel
Gances 'JAccuse', standing up and walking towards us.
Why this title, 'Pola X' that doesnt seem to refer to anything?
- 'Pola' was the projects code name (theyre the initials of the French translation of Herman Melvilles novel.) True, I could have called Katias character Pola, like the Polish silent movie star, Pola Negri. But, in the end, I preferred to keep the French name from the novel, Isabelle.
Titles bore me. I wish I could be a painter and make each film an 'untitled' with just the date.
I know that in the last eight years youve written a book and had other film projects, including one with Sharon Stone.
- Yes, but I havent made Stone, Ive made 'Pierre'. At the time, no project could counteract my disgust for cinema. But 'Pierre' was different. 'Pierre' has always been 'my last project'. Whether I make other films or not, 'Pierre', my 'Pierre' will have existed in some shape or other.
In the second part of the film, there are numerous shots of Pierre writing in his cell. And, deep down, we never know what hes writing, or what his writing is worth.
- Because a writer seen from behind always looks like a 'great writer'...