The ORIGIN OF THE VIOLENCE deals with emotion and suspense with the themes dear to the heart of Elie Chouraqui: the memory and the family secrets that are handed down from generation to generation. On the occasion of the presentation of his film in Bordeaux (our critique HERE), the director spoke to us with passion of the evidence to adapt the novel by Fabrice Humbert, but also of his struggle to turn in the Buchenwald concentration camp and his passion of the actors. He was accompanied by his son César Chouraqui, who embodies Nathan Wagner.
What is the effect trigger that made you want to adapt for the cinema the book the Origin of violence by Fabrice Humbert ?
– Elie Chouraqui : In this book, I found all of the themes on which I do the staging, for forty years : family, memory, violence, dating, love stories, the relationship parents-children. Who are we ? Where do we come from ? On what do we build our existence ? This is the sum of my work, the reason why I am making films. There are a lot of things in the book : the characters, the humanity, the human madness, the beauty, the franco-German relationship. The book is fascinating, built as a thriller. Step by step, the dark Nathan (played by Stanley Weber) finds the history of his family and walk towards the light, beaming. We say that life is good, thanks to the resilience. Do you know that France is the country in which there are the most families who make a family tree ? I will also soon participate in the adaptation in France of the show Finding your Roots that artists are doing in the United States about their roots.
The adaptation, however, has not been simple
– E. C : , In effect, make the film has been an adventure long, difficult, but exciting ! I am in a fight for the rights, I was not the only filmmaker interested in, it had a lot of requests ! I met the publisher and the author, with which one has had a real stroke of heart, as if we were buddies from childhood. Probably because I understood that the story was autobiographical, this has touched me. I represents me very well that childhood is made of non-expressed and nostalgia, and guilt that is born of the thousand small details that are unconscious, which make us wonder: what happens ?
How have you worked out the scenario with Fabrice Humbert ?
– E. C : We worked on the script for a year and a half, nearly fifty versions ! As Fabrice is a teacher, he was putting me words in red in the margin as “excellent”, “bravo”, or “no, disagree”. The problem was that I couldn’t keep everything from the book, it was necessary to rule out things, find the line strong, that I respected. I wanted the viewer to kind of gasping of the film. See a film at the cinema for me, it is above all an experience. My best experiences, it is Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now, Annie Hall, The Arrangement or Faces.
You are the first to have obtained the permission to shoot at the camp of Buchenwald, how did you do it?
– C. C : It’s true, we experienced something that has never existed. I didn’t want to turn into a decor recreating the Buchenwald concentration camp, I didn’t want to you see a decoration manufactured.It was also important to film with German actors. I didn’t want to override this. I’ve been defending my project in front of the Curator of the Museum of the camp, and I believe that the sentence who has done everything switch, that is when I said that this film was my story, my parentage, and that they could not deny me the right to go to the mine. I am well aware of the controversy of Lanzmann and Bernard–Henri Lévy, who is to say that it is not necessary to show the Holocaust, but I think that without any show should be able to perpetuate the memory thanks to the movies.
You have offered up their first roles to young performers, and as your son Caesar, Jeanne Cremer (granddaughter of Bruno Cremer), or Roman Cochet. Do you have the soul of a discoverer of new talent ?
– E. C : I have the passion of watching the actors, and it is true that it was I who carried the first time on screen , Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sandrine Kiberlain , or Yvan Attal. My experience, my sensitivity and a certain musical ear and allow me to see quickly what the actors are capable of giving… And I am rarely deceived. One bad actor is able to spoil the whole movie ! But you know, the big boss is the film, it is he who chooses his performers, I am the master of the work. I know when the film sounds right, but I always keep two days after the shooting, just in case.
You have the habit of visiting actors to prepare for roles, isn’t this a little intrusive, and have you ever experienced rejection ?
– E. C : No refusal, but the actors are sometimes a little surprised, like Andie MacDowell in that I had spent a weekend in north Carolina for Harrison’s Flowers. Spend time before the scene was shot with the actors creates a complicity that allows me to go faster then, we understand, at a glance, a word. Andie I was also thanked at the end of the shoot.
– César Chouraqui : We we understand each other even more easily !
Caesar, this is your first double role, how have you approached the character ?
– C. C : It is true that there was some pressure, but I was keen and I worked a lot, read, seen films and documentaries. I got into the skin of the character through the hunger and I fasted for three weeks and lost fifteen pounds. David Kammenos, the companion of my sadness (Kolb) has also fasted.
Was it difficult to shoot certain scenes in front of your father ?
– C. C : The love scene with Roman was not really written, it was taken twice and the second was very natural. His direction of the actors is half-words, but he reassured me during the scene of the parable of the rat by giving me this important information: “you have the right to cry”.
– E. C : It was important to understand what’s going on Nathan Wagner, who wins when even at the end of a certain way, because this young man leaves a memory. There is a latin proverb that says “man is always victorious” .
Interview by Sylvie-Noelle
The ORIGIN OF THE VIOLENCE, the critical
• Original title : the Origin of the Violence
• Achievement : Elie Chouraqui
• Screenplay : Elie Chouraqui after the painting of Fabrice Humbert
• Main actors : Stanley Weber, Cesar Chouraqui, Richard Berry, Miriam Stein, Michel Bouquet, Catherine Samie…
• Country of origin : France
• Released : may 25, 2016
• Duration : 1 hour and 50 minutes
• Genre : Drama
• Distributor : Paradise Films
• Synopsis : During a trip to Germany, a young professor, Nathan Fabre, discovered at the Buchenwald concentration camp photograph of an inmate whose resemblance with his own father, Adrien, the amazing…