We met Serge Bozon, the fascinating and highly inspired director MRS. HYDE, his fourth feature.
The film of Serge Bozon is part of a particular universe, where mingle cleverly profound reflections on the background of social and political, and outlandish ideas, characters, and shots staggered. The delightful MS. HYDE is no exception to his rule. We met this man who so loves the contrasts during the presentation of his film at Bordeaux. He spoke to us with passion of his desire to make a film about education, his refusal of the film realistic and sad and boring and his desire to provoke in the viewer surprises, emotions, laughter, and disorder.
Why have you chosen the novel “The strange case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde” by R. L Stevenson ?
– Serge Bozon : This is my co-writer Axelle Ropert who had the initial idea: take the novel of Stevenson and make four major changes. The filming of our days (not in Victorian England), in a rather modest suburban commuter (and not in the mid-upscale), with teachers (and not laboratory technicians solitary), and with a woman (not a man). She also wanted to achieve it and then it was thought that the project would fit me better. In my previous films, the report at issue was not obvious, and I wanted to make a film about education for a long time. It follows, therefore, Ms. Géquil, a prof total failure since the beginning of his career: with his students, his colleagues, his administration. It is too late for it to change naturally. So he only needs a change not natural, accidental and fantastic. And that’s where Stevenson comes in with the accident in the laboratory, which opens the door to a transformation, without knowing it.
By structuring your story in 3 chapters, you guide the viewer on the convoluted path of the transmission of knowledge ?
– S B : Yes, a little bit, because my film is a little burst gives himself the freedom, as in the time with the popular cinema, mixing up tones, genres, and does not seek a kind of fluidity to the story. I found although there is a simple architecture, clear, clear, almost didactic, a bit like the movie where the transmission is taken very seriously. For me the school is not just a decoration, because if the subject of my film is the transmission of knowledge, there must be also the film. So in my film, which is relatively rare in the French cinema, there are scenes of transmission. Mrs. Géquil is a prof obscure, because it does not transmit the light of the knowledge, and it is going to get there by becoming light itself, where the special effects which are fairly simple: a polarization, a shift to the negative. I showed the film to many teachers. They understood that there was a kind of report very seriously to the greatness of the teaching and its difficulties, and that the fantasy and the zaniness of the film are not a way to escape the subject, but the deal almost more frontal.
Exposing yourself to the fact that teachers are no longer enough trained today ?
– S B : It should not be that I give myself a form of knowledge to be a sociologist or a specialist in education sciences. I don’t have those skills and I don’t know how real and serious the advice that we give our days to the new teachers. But clearly in most of the movies that happen in high school, there are no scenes of course. But rather the idea of boast in the teacher a sense of the chatter, not to be destabilized by its students in being even more insolent than them, a bit like François Begaudeau in Between the Walls, which is almost a slam underway. I have wanted to do a little bit of the opposite: when Mrs. Géquil get out of this, this is not because she plays on the register of the tac to tac, but because it is thoroughly in the know and she comes finally to deploy it. It’s the idea that’s more traditional that it is necessary to teach the content. The film has also failed to call Mrs. Hyde, or the key of knowledge, and it is for this reason that the opening credits, we see the key to the lab that she’s going to give to Malik. Unfortunately, Mrs. Géquil has not managed to make what should be a teacher, that is to say, to teach a whole class. It has succeeded with Malik out of the class and taking him in his lab. I wanted my film as a sort of ode to the transmission and to the importance of school. But I didn’t want it in my film that people pro-school, in favor of the task and the greatness of teaching. I also wanted to that, a point of view of dialectics, there is in my film of the people in the counterweight who say things against the school. This are the rappers and the father of Malik, who holds a speech poujadiste basic, but who defends a point of view purely social, since he himself has no education and earns very well it’s life, when other people have done theses and find themselves jobless welfare recipients, or unemployed.
“In a cinema that is realistic, one is obliged to put so many hints that it is emollient, it reduces the lines of force, it reflects badly on the opposition.”
You refuse to make the films realistic, for what reasons ?
– S B : The rejection of realism for me is to be able to get to things more simple, more striking, decisive. For example, I’ve chosen to show Ms. Géquil only at the beginning. If I had wanted to be realistic, as it is never 100% isolated in a high school in the life, I should have added the CPE (senior Advisors of Education) that is not seen in the film, and which may be of relay, there would have also had colleagues, compassionate, unions. But I made this choice because it is more healthy and more net before it turns. If one is realistic, one is obliged to put so many hints that it is emollient, it reduces the lines of force, it tarnishes the opposition. By not being in the realism, I have the will to keep something a little sharp, that is not greyish, a little, a little that, a little only, not too lonely, a little failure, not too much failure. Another example for the scene of the demonstration: if I’d wanted to be realistic, it would have had to make at least 5 or 6 scenes of course, because that ever happens in the life in 5 minutes : a first one where Malik continues to bordéliser but listening vaguely for a second or it stops bordéliser but talkative, a third, or he listens but does not include a well, a fourth, or he asks questions but does not necessarily have the answers, a fifth or he understands the answers but can’t get his reasoning, etc… It would have become boring or soft, we would have had 6 scenes, and no decisive. While there is a simple transformation in a scene that becomes decisive: he, who was not interested to ever going to even discover a passion for math and science in general. I wanted the viewer to be compelled to follow and attend the scene as a whole, by asking questions, such as Malik. This is not because my films are not realistic that they do not deal with the reality. There are still a lot of things in my film that have come out of the reality, but which have been given to me by close friends and that I have not experienced. The details I speak of are very accurate (inspection, class council, TPE), but they are not there to make it true, but rather because they are crazy and funny. Instead of having a speech whining about “this is unfair, the technical classes have also the right to have TPE”, it shows a scene of TPE or students in general classes are very low, and it is enough to prove that the discrimination is unfair.
You have taught for two years as a professor of philosophy, it gives you there a certain legitimacy to shoot such a film ?
– S B : I do not seek legitimacy by saying that I know what I’m talking about. We do not judge the quality of a film information documentary made by the filmmaker before. We’ve lost that kind of weird casualness that had the great filmmakers of the classical hollywood cinema in relation to the question of the veracity of documentary. The idea is to speak of the unknown. The beauty of a movie does not judge the accuracy or the veracity of a point of view likely. Now I find that there is a tendency, in any case in the Commissions that grant or not money to the film, to judge primarily of the truth, regardless of the subject matter. If you make a movie about firefighters, what is a guarantor having spent six months with fire and know fire? How the film will be beautiful? This is not because we took notes or that we know how they dress that it’s going to bring anything. The essential is not there.
Would you say that Malik is the hinge of the transformation of Ms. Géquil, which she is not aware of any of the following ?
– S B : It is a bit of a film in two in a certain way, because one has a bad teacher, a bad student, everyone is a bit of a lame duck. She, more metaphorical, one of the teachers because she is a prof failed, isolated, weak, and despised. And, most obvious, one of the students because he limps. For me it is interesting that the two weaknesses of the film are transformed together. This is actually very late in the film that she begins to understand things, she sees signs. She realizes that she has a different way of teaching, a calmness and a form of teaching that she had not. But she will pay dearly for this trigger strange thanks to which things will change: what saved him in the end destroy, which has been beneficial ends by him to be evil, as in a backlash. Because the film obviously could not finish with the day Madame Géquil who became a very good teacher and night-a kind of firefly in the suburbs. It’s like in the great classics of literature (I think of The sorcerer’s apprentice of Goethe) when we can’t control the metamorphosis non-chosen. As always in this genus, which was separated begins to remix with a breakdown that culminates in the last 15 minutes are more sad, with a disarray of the character.
“The beauty of a movie does not judge the accuracy or the veracity of a point of view likely.”
You like to offer roles to counter-jobs for actors ?
– S B : Yes, this is not to be clever, but it is more enjoyable for an actor, a filmmaker and for the viewer to see things new things that they have seen a hundred times. Isabelle Huppert interprets the whole of the roles of a strong woman, and in my previous film, Tip Top, I played on his side, a violent and authoritarian. In MRS. HYDE, she played at the beginning rather a weak woman in every sense of the word. It allowed me to explore her shyness that she has very little opportunity to reveal it to the screen. Moreover, it is more in Madame Géquil, teacher dull and transparent that it excited me, because it is almost expected Mrs Hyde. I wrote the role for her, as in Tip Top, and if she had refused, the two roles, none of these movies would have been made. José Garcia , who normally play someone extremely agitated and trublionesque, here is a character very quiet. It allowed me to discover a kind face and gentle that he knew not. On paper, his character is a man at home, who pampers his wife and him concoct small dishes, which has no child, has no job, is an artist and a rebel. Jose Garcia did not, in fact, someone unconventional and dandy, but it has made it on the contrary very ordinary, humble. It croons, it is awkward, even if he loves his wife and without realizing at what point his job is difficult. Romain Duris plays in general rather handsome guys, charming, and has the chat. Here he plays a character much more grotesque and I find that it frees up a comic in which I had never seen.
You seem to be a lot of fun in the search of contrasts ?
– S B : Yes exactly, we have fun, hoping that others are having fun too! In the cliché of the high school in the suburbs in a film that is realistic, boys of color would be rowdy, girls are nice, the teachers are also victims. The idea was to play on contrasts, a bit like a painter plays with the colours, and a musician with the notes. To try not free to do so in a way that the viewer has of the surprises, emotions, laughter, troubles and little by little things are progressing. The research contrasts are simple: there are white girls who have a wickedness more legalistic and administrative, pointing to how thin the errors of Ms. Géquil. One has a voice quite high pitched, gentle and the other more serious, one has a physical country, the other with the more rock and urban. For the neighbor too, I wanted to great and the gironde, on the contrary, Isabelle Huppert, who is small is thin. It is interpreted by Patricia Barzyck, who was the wife of Jean-Pierre Mocky and former Miss France. I found it to be very impressive physically with her look extremely beautiful and a little evil.
Can you tell us about the choice of clothing rather kitsch of the headmaster ?
– S B : These are games which, I hope, have an interest in the effects caused. With the principal, there are gags clothing and an eccentricity of the capillary tube, because at the basis, as throughout the film, there is a fund for social and policy serious enough. For me, this is a way to criticize the headteachers who do not come all of the teaching, but can now come from the private sector, with an option in management of management of their establishment. But instead of making the film sad with a headmaster who little by little would be caught in a logic of alienation as in the company, it was someone who is so surmanagérial that it becomes funny. In the context macronien, the question of the young manager with long teeth is even more squeaky or funny. The idea is not just to make the caricature cynical of a guy in a suit pretending to be a small boss, who does not believe in what he says and is ready to swallow all the snakes as possible, as a bad politician or a business leader, just to spare their back or obtain such or such an advantage. Him, even if he is a bit stupid, he is not cynical, he believes what he says, in a weird sincerity; it is a little inhabited by what he says, even if it is on the side of the plate. The principle of the social fund or policy, is to try, without a spirit of seriousness, without being sententious, and without that it passes through the speech, transform these political issues or social ideas of cinema, gags, surprises, dramas, emotions possible. It is to feel what it is like to learn something to someone, the time it takes, the difficulties and the pleasure possible when we get there-in short, the pleasure of the Eureka!
Interview by Sylvie-Noelle
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