So much to announce right away the color (blood red) : to the Blog, we took a slap in the face of severe with Severe, this little monster film telling the coming-of-age of a tormented young girl who discovers “appetites individuals”… for The festival of Gérardmer, we had the chance to interview Julia Ducournau, writer, and director promising that stands out in the landscape of French cinema, by his ambitions as much as by its influences.
Our criticism of Grave of Julia Ducournau
The movie mixture of genres (horror, comedy, drama); it did-it raised problems at the time to convince decision-makers ?
Yes, you can qualify Serious “crossover”; it is precisely this identity with the crossing of genres that has motivated my producers to defend the film to investors. Canal+ and Wild Bunch were also enthusiastic and we have supported from the beginning. But actually the fact that you can’t label stupidly, and just this type of project protean in a genre that is, to sell to the target audience, we asked a lot of eloquence to defend it to the end.
After having seen the Grave, the spectators and the media often need to talk to you about David Cronenberg, no ?
Yes, of course. But I would say that in some way, I’m doing a Cronenberg more Lychien. I love the strangeness of Lynch and the possibility for the public to receive in sometimes a sense of humor. There are no direct references to these two filmmakers in Serious, but these are clearly my two major influences.
You have chosen Ruben Impens (Alabama Monroe), The misfortunates) as director of photography, it is his approach to “organic” bodies to be the image that interested you ?
Yes, I wanted that in the scenes scary, we can identify with the characters, that there is no sense of distance by the genre. The light is very important, therefore, in these moments, you can’t accentuate a radiant vampire, a look inhuman in Justine, the main character; on the contrary she should stay human, that is near the viewer. But on the other hand, naturalism constant would tend to annoy me, so it had to be that the scenes are more domestic, or even scenes to be humorous, show a strangeness. A strangeness that calls for the anticipation of events to come, and this was by the light.
That says “body horror,” says gaze on the body; you were holding filming the female body without erotic ?
Yes, I wanted to film the trivial. The work of the triviality of the body was important to me for two reasons. First, to offer a representation of women that is not pink, powder, pretty, and delicate. And the other reason is that this image is more raw, more trivial allows you to switch between a representation of a female body with a universal body. The sensations experienced by the body speaks to the whole world, it is no longer gender-female or male.
So you use the themes of body horror to reveal the realities, identities, bodies, which are not always explicitly present on the screen ?
Yes, the question of the metamorphosis in the end. According to me, the metamorphosis of the body represents the freedom, hence the need to develop a staged dynamic to go in this direction. The metamorphosis is a gesture dynamics, anti-deterministic, a gesture of liberation.
So, you have thought about your direction of the actors to make this dynamism is the most noticeable as possible to the screen ?
For me, the direction of actors is closer to the choreography and the music, the literature. I have discussed it at length, dissected the characters with Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf and Rabah Nait Oufella; and this is only one time that I felt that they had fully integrated the characters from their character’s respective work on the body began. I worked on the positions, the energy, and to serve this bias, I made sure that the decorations are as low as possible. You will notice that in the studios of three of its students, the furniture, the beds are near the ground; suddenly, instinctively the players were taking positions affalées, which implies already a certain way, a report of the animal body.
How you came up with the idea of the plane in which the faces of the Garange Marillier and Ella Rumpf mingle in the reflection of a glass window ?
The idea came to me on the shoot, it was also complicated to adjust this plan so that the faces are superimposed perfectly on the screen. I wanted to appear, and a third face, as if their “between-devouring” had given birth to a third being.
One cannot help but see in Ella Rumpf, a resemblance to Beatrice Dalle. Did you realize that this likeness would be born of a kinship with the Disorder Every Day, the film of Claire Denis in which Béatrice Dalle plays a cannibal ?
It was impossible not to think of Trouble Every Day by developing my own project; it is a movie that I love even if I chose with Severe, a different point of view on cannibalism. I am aware enroll in a history, with films milestones that have influenced me, such as those of Cronenberg, Lynch, or Disorder Every Day; if these films didn’t exist, then maybe Serious would not have seen the light of day.
I have not thought directly to Béatrice Dalle in choosing Ella in the role of Alexia; I was looking for before all someone of androgynous, and that is something of a predator in the face, and just Ella knows very well to play the features of his face, the expressions of his mouth. Consciously or unconsciously, I have also projected on it, something Fairuza Balk in a Dangerous Alliance.
We note the particular importance of the music of Jim Williams, which allows to identify the place of each scene in the story.
Yes, I discovered the work of Jim Williams in the film of Ben Weathley, Tourists and Kill List, and I liked the personality that is exuded. I do not subscribe really to the orchestral compositions the usual hollywood movies, or to the layers of sound you hear in a lot of genre films. Jim, he is a master instrumentalist marked rock, virtuoso of the electric guitar, and which permits of true theatrics. It fitted perfectly with my idea of support by the music, the tragic dimension of the film, the destiny draw for Justine. Hence the solemn organ that is required during the scene where everything shifts to the heroine.
The international title “RAW” brings almost a different identity to the film, are you happy with this title ?
The double meaning of the French title was impossible to translate into English; Grave expresses both the ict for language generation, and the first idea of gravity in the human condition, a reality that falls you above, to which you can not escape, which pins you to the ground. But I am happy with the English title chosen by Wild Bunch, which has a double meaning: “Raw” means “raw” and sounds like a title more gendered, and “to be raw” means “raw”.
Interview by Arkham