French director Julia Ducarnau, who made her world film debut with her first feature “Raw” in the film 201, is changing the vocabulary of cinema with her heart-stopping image and borderline-blurred approach to the genre.
This originality helped drive her second film, “Titan,” to a Palme d’Or in Cannes this year, making Ducarnau the second woman to win a prestigious award after Jane Campion. “Titan” is the story of a young woman who had a metal plate attached to her skull after a horrific accident as a child. Running after one violent confrontation after another, he found refuge in a fire station and a picture of a father in a fire chief, played by the experienced French star Vincent Lyndon. All the while, her body feels the transformational and visceral effects of being paired with a shiny, sexy automobile at a car show.
But even though moviegoers fainted during Ducournau’s filming, don’t call him a horror director: he works on the European tradition of visceral synths like Pierre Paolo Pasolini and Carlos Soura – and also approves of David Cronenberg’s body horror – and his work classification. “Titan” opens in theaters on Friday.
When Spike Lee announced “Titan” as Palme d’Or winner at the start of the show, did you think you heard right?
I was very confused, and even a little shocked. I thought I heard wrong or he got it wrong. But I told Spike Lee that it has a heart made it a lively event. We had to restart this big machine two years later, so there is some chaos, but it makes it more human.
Your leadership, Agathe Rousselle, has never acted – why was it important to you?
I wanted the audience to just watch the part and take part through the film. With my casting manager, we decided to check the models ’profiles on Instagram, and we pulled them from them. I wanted someone who had energy in her, a look that was quite attractive and enchanting, and she had great angles.
How did you direct his acting, since he didn’t have too much dialogue?
What can he get out of himself, and to get out of the consciousness of all the actors, I’ve worked on him in various monologues – Sydney Lumet’s “Network”, “Twin Picks” from Laura Palmer’s grave, and the villain “Killing” Eve, “as their passion expands. The spectrum was. “On the network” it goes from deep anger to deep frustration, from “teenage” to “sweet to deep heartbreak” .
Have you considered both women and men as part of Alexia?
For this particular part, gender was not relevant. I really needed someone who had an androgenic look, and someone who had an unknown face on whom we couldn’t project anything else. Since the character navigated between the sexes, and blurred the lines throughout the film, it seemed completely normal to examine both sexes.
What was your vision for Vincent Lyndon – he has acted in dozens of films, but we are not used to seeing him so physically?
The physicality in the actors is something I’m looking for – I try to express things with images before words. Vincent lifted heavy weights for a year and a half. I wrote the part for him, although at first it was unconscious – my subconscious was thinking about him. Not the way you are used to seeing him. In life, he is the one who moves me because extremes are constantly co-existing in him. She wears this big armor, she wears her body like armor and yet she is constantly on the verge of breaking down. I knew I could show him like no one had ever seen him before.
Did you expect that kind of extreme reaction from some viewers?
I hope people stay on the ride and see and debate it in the end, that’s for the industry, to create new debates and new questions. Some reactions are really something I didn’t anticipate, such as unconsciousness.
Do you think your films are horror films?
I think it’s hard to label both of my features. This is actually something I’m looking for. I’m trying to create this experience for being human, and trying to blend all these typologies of the film. I don’t think I’m creating horror. I use the grammar of horror and drama and sci-fi. I try to embrace them in such a way that my film is its own wild animal.
Both of your features start with a car accident – what is your connection to these images of metal and pipes?
The metal is cold, heavy, dead, it does not react to our eyes. I wanted to try to make it something alive. In the beginning, the journey through the engine is the journey through the character. I tried to film the pipes as if they were intestines and try to organic them with a liquid like black oil. The metal in his head makes him dead inside, so I wanted to wrap all these thoughts between man and the dead metal and reverse the way they reacted.
How do you feel about “Titan” being called a great comedy film?
Absolutely, it’s about blurring the line. But also because of the first meaning of the word – it’s weird, it’s weird. At the very beginning of writing, I stopped thinking about the first performance, the second performance, the climax. I wanted a strength and a very optimistic finish, I started with the finish and I worked on the way back to the beginning. I wanted a movie that throws its layers one by one. It looks at Vincent Adrian in the same way, layer by layer, he begins to see the person behind the imagination. I wanted to start with a very baroque, in your face, very strong colors, violence, layer by layer, then you go to the essence – that is love.
What about being classified as a “female filmmaker”?
It is strange that there should be two categories, male filmmakers and female filmmakers. It’s just common sense that it shouldn’t be. When you watch a film, it doesn’t matter if the person who made it is male or female; It is absolutely irrelevant. A film is a film, art is art.
In Kane, there were four women in the competition, so if there are 10 of the 20 films next year, there is more chance for a woman to win the Palme d’Or and it will be no exception.
What kind of thing were you looking at when you were younger?
Apparently Cronenberg was the foundation for me, so it was Pasolini’s work that I compulsively saw around 16. It’s a very organic movie – “St. Matthew according to The Gospel” – it’s abstract but physical and sensual. Apparently “salo”, we can talk about it for three weeks. Italian neorealism was an aesthetic push to me, it was evidence of cinema freedom, memory and memory on screen. Carlos Saura had an incredible freedom of expression in “Kriya Kuarvos”. These movies really throw you into the content of the characters. The directors who challenge the form a lot to talk about us, about humanity, about us, always inspire me a lot.
Are you revisiting any of the old choices during the epidemic?
Catherine Bigelow’s “Darkness Near”, which makes me want to revisit Michael Mann’s “heat”, both with the music of Tangerine Dream. There’s a shot in “Near Darkness,” when she turns into a vampire in a vampire truck where they kiss very passionately. I love how she did it. It’s very sensual, amazing filmmaking.
What else have you been enjoying lately?
In the Francois Pinault collection in Paris, there is an amazing wax sculpture of Urs Fischer. It is based on the abduction of Sabine women. It melted a little bit, it was very dynamic. Marble is supposed to last forever, but you feel your own death, it was breaking into emptiness. There were tears in my eyes, it left a crazy impression.