A month before the opening of the Los Angeles meeting dedicated to the seventh hexagonal art, the director of Notre Dame is burningfrom Name of the Rose and of Seven years in Tibet reiterates its attachment to American cinematographic conceptions.
Between him and Los Angeles, it’s a real love story. Director Jean-Jacques Annaud returned to his American tropism, before the United States premiere of his film Notre-Dame is burning, at the opening of the French Film Festival in Hollywood next month.
“I would never have made the films I made without the friendship and full support of major American studios“, confided the filmmaker, author of blockbusters like Seven years in Tibet, Stalingrad Where The Name of the Rose. At 78, the director remains the Frenchman with the most affinity for Hollywood’s taste for the spectacular.
Whether Notre Dame is burning, which traces the fire that failed to completely destroy the Parisian cathedral in 2019, is a French production, the feature film oscillates between breathtaking thriller and disaster film. A style likely to please the public of the American French Film Festival (TAFFF, formerly Colcoa), who will discover it well after its release in France in March.
From the first smoke until the complete extinction of the fire fifteen hours later, at the cost of a fierce fight by the firefighters, the threat of flames on the Gothic jewel of the city of light constituted “an incredible drama, worthy of a Hollywood screenwriter“, estimated Jean-Jacques Annaud. “I’m close to Notre Dame right now, and far from Los Angeles“, Continued this cantor of epic cinema, reached by telephone from Paris. “But part of my heart remains in Los Angeles.»
“In America, I noticed that we invest in trying to release the best film possible, the most spectacular, the most attractive, while in France, the rule is to try to produce less expensively, to cheat somehow. Cheaper, easier to do. »
Jean Jacques Annaud
Sean Connery, Brad Pitt, Jude Law… Some of Hollywood’s greatest actors have appeared in front of Jean-Jacques Annaud’s camera. In the United States, the director has always had the means to match his ambitions. “In America, I noticed that we invest to try to release the best possible film, the most spectacular, the most attractive, he explained, while in France, the rule is to try to produce cheaper, to cheat in a way. Cheaper, easier to do.»
Despite his French roots, the filmmaker was only slightly inspired by the New Wave, a movement born in France at the end of the 1950s and which left a lasting mark on the history of the seventh art. The accent on the dialogues, instilled by the films of the time, remains for him secondary. The director appreciates the American way of filming, centered on movement and visual prowess. “Cinema is the art of telling visually thrilling stories. Otherwise it’s something else, it’s television radio“, added Jean-Jacques Annaud. “If we have the privilege of being on the big screen, it’s to fill it, not to put people there who talk like in TV shows.»
“In France, expensive films are seen as unfair. We criticize films shot in the studio, we criticize the fact of constructing sets, we criticize special effects. »
“In France, expensive films are seen as unfair“, continued the director. “We criticize films shot in the studio, we criticize the fact of constructing sets, we criticize special effects.“Despite this, French cinema”luckily produces a few gems every yearin his own vein, he finally conceded.