The octogenarian director, with a rich career of more than fifty films, remains deeply passionate about images. A documentary film on his career is screened this Wednesday, March 30, at the Gaumont Comédie in Montpellier.
At over 80 years old, have you kept the same thirst for filming as when you started as a young news reporter?
I have always been curious about life. And I try, in my films, to make others like it. We live in a world where the negative is stronger than the positive. I am nothing other than a bringer to life, a reporter of life.
My films reflect observations, men and women I have met. I always start with a flavor of truth even if, from time to time, I exaggerate a little. I try to poetize the world in which we live as much as possible.
You write before filming with the choice of never having made an adaptation…
I am wary of intermediaries. It’s already so hard to talk about what we know! I think the greatest screenwriter in the world is still life. It’s life that writes my films. There are never superheroes or super-bastards, but men and women who have the qualities of their faults.
We all have the opportunity to be a hero and a bastard for thirty seconds. In most of the novels offered to me, there are good guys and bad guys: I don’t believe it!
You produce your films in a kind of personal margin by developing a style that often makes people say “it’s Lelouch”…
I succeeded in being a free man. Tomorrow morning, if one of my films doesn’t work, if I can’t find the money for the next one, I’m ready to direct with nothing at all. With my friends and a cell phone. I know happiness is free and luxury is expensive.
Do you have an opinion on the generalization of smartphones which makes everyone a potential image hunter?
Smartphones are the most beautiful cameras in the world. It is the closest lens to the human eye. And it is a pity that the professionals do not dare to seize this marvelous machine. Me, there isn’t a day when I don’t film.
Even before the laptop, I spent my life filming things that the public will never see: my diary as a filmmaker. I need to film, as soon as something interests me, excites me.
I hope that at some point, people will get bored and will want to return massively to theaters
Did you keep the first camera offered by your father?
Absoutely ! It’s next to my office. I can see her everyday (laughs).
You were notably rewarded with two Oscars and a Palme d’Or for “A man and a woman”: does that only flatter the ego?
Rewards are made to reassure fools. It also reassures me… Especially when I go through difficult times. You don’t have to spit on it. When you win a Palme d’Or, all of a sudden you are interested in you, in your film.
What is your view of contemporary cinema, particularly American?
Oh, I won’t be able to make a blockbuster. For me, these are not films but video games, comics. It’s good for kids who are into fun. I make adult films for people who have suffered, who have scars.
How do you assess the evolution of broadcasting via platforms like Netflix or Amazon Prime?
These platforms are very useful because they give work to everyone. For my part, as long as I could work for the big screen, I would. I do not conceive that a film is only seen on small screens. I hope that at some point, people will get bored and will want to return massively to theaters. In the long term the cinema will win. I totally believe in it.
You created film workshops in Beaune with what ambitions?
Between series, films, videos on the internet, we have never been invaded by so many images. It is therefore important that some film a little better than the others. Because handling a camera is an art. These workshops are not a school but a place where you can watch the making of a film from A to Z: writing, location scouting, filming…
On each of my achievements, I embark thirteen students. I believe in the power of cinema and that one day a film so beautiful will be made that it can change a lot of things.
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A documentary on Claude Lelouch: “I can’t imagine a film being seen only on small screens”