FunAstrology"It gives me the chance to live the chaos"

"It gives me the chance to live the chaos"

The auteur filmmaker Leos Carax on the musical “Annette”, the power of the public and the happiness of depicting his nightmares.

The public-shy Leos Carax is back with the musical “Annette”: great cinema every moment, drunk with the legacy of old Hollywood and its luxurious screen magic. But at the same time allergic to sugar sauce: The unequal love story of a comedian who is celebrated for his sarcasm (Adam Driver) and an ethereal angelic chanteuse (Marion Cotillard) tastes more like chocolate with pepper. Told in original songs by glam rock veterans Sparks, the drama only gets going after the tragic death of the heroine: the daughter turns out to be a child prodigy, in whom not only the singing talent but also the mother’s restless spirit of revenge lives on. Depicted with hand puppets and marionettes, this figure is ideal for Carax’s seductive and prickly anti-naturalism.

Mr Carax, as a filmmaker you are particularly loyal to your ideas. When we were talking once in 1999, they told me about a classic silent film that now appears as a quote in “Annette”.

King Vidor’s “The Crowd” is a film that I am very fond of for personal reasons. It’s a boy-meets-girl story that doesn’t begin until the couple have already found each other. The story becomes very serious, they lose a child, the father falls into depression, but at the end there is a scene in which you can see her laughing again in the crowd of a theater audience. This scene has always stuck in my head. And because I wanted to make a film about those dark things, it seemed perfect to me.

Now you can get scared of such a laughing crowd. You are considered a filmmaker shy of publicity.

I really don’t like crowds. Only as a child did I like to romp around people, today I avoid that. With regard to “Annette”, that’s a central question of what makes laughter and what it provokes. Comedy is an amazing medium when done well. But the idea of stepping on a stage and making people laugh would be an absolute nightmare for me. It’s like the dream you had as a child: you go to school and suddenly discover that you are naked. Such nightmares are, of course, ideal for a movie.

Here, however, you have rediscovered your nightmare in a strange idea.

The idea of the story didn’t come from me, but from the American band Sparks. There was this couple, an opera singer and a stand-up comedian, what do I do with that? I know a lot about comedians, that always interested me, but I don’t know anything about opera. It’s almost a class struggle, one part is on the move in pop culture, the other in high culture – but both are practically naked on stage, with the voice and with the humor. This exposure fascinates me.

The masses have a very special power today – in social networks. When the audience boos and almost annihilates the comedian – isn’t that a metaphor for the phenomenon of cancel culture?

I didn’t want to get to the point here, because I never score points. But I like to read, and as a teenager I especially like the works of Louis-Ferdinand Céline. However, he was anything but a good person, he was an anti-Semite. So the question arose, can I still get excited about his work? That was a disturbing experience for me.

Who can separate work and biography, even if you wanted to? For example, when I see Klaus Kinski’s films today, I cannot ignore the allegations of abuse against him.

Two stand-up comedians come to mind, Louis CK in America and Dieudonné in France. The latter was banned for being a total anti-Semite, the former for masturbating in the presence of women. I also have problems seeing Kinski. But will I stop reading Celine? No.

Your film was shot as an international co-production, once the Bonn Art Museum even played the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. I like the unreal thing about this way of working. Do you like being a nomad or is that solely due to the funding situation?

I really like this way of working, all these levels of non-reality. This film is full of it: it’s a musical, in life people don’t sing. And no one can afford to shoot in Los Angeles, but I found the venue important because you have to be out and about so much there. But I shot most of it in Germany. That is exciting.

Have you never felt like staging an opera?

No, I’ve never been to the opera and I would never do anything live. I don’t like working with actors at all when there’s no camera. I wouldn’t know what to do with it if a film doesn’t come out of it.

To be honest, I think your film is very operatic, just as a good opera film makes the artificial thing about it. Ingmar Bergman’s “Magic Flute”, for example.

To person:

Leos Carax , born 1960 in Suresnes, France, was already known for his first feature film, as “Boy Meets Girl” won the Prix de la jeunesse in Cannes in 1984. “Annette” is his first film made in English.

Then all the work, even though I don’t know anything about opera, would be to make a film that would be my vision of opera.

What fascinates you about the Sparks, they also brought a certain theatricality to electronic pop of the 80s.

There is a childish side to you that I’ve always loved. Something playful. But they have a lot more irony than I can use in my film.

Many filmmakers use irony as a kind of reassurance because they fear the unbroken feelings.

I asked myself whether it would be possible to show the world of the rich and beautiful today without hiding behind irony. So far I’ve only shown such a milieu in my film “Pola X” after Melville. At the time when Douglas Sirk made his melodramas like “Written in the Wind” or “As long as there are people”, you could still show that unbroken. It’s difficult, today you have the irony of the characters and that of the camera.

When Rainer Werner Fassbinder allowed himself to be influenced by Sirk, he took this form absolutely seriously, it worked without irony.

That is what constitutes Fassbinder’s greatness in his time. The class struggle and the struggle of the sexes were extremely important to him, as was Sirk. As an immigrant, he had a different view.

If you did not grow up in the same milieu, can you develop this eye for social injustice?

That’s a limitation, my limitation. Fassbinder was the freest person ever, he could devote himself to any milieu. I find it a limitation. I can’t make my films so general that everyone can understand them. For example, children cannot do anything with them. The further I travel with my films, the more curious I am to see how they are received. They are always about white people who are materially well off.

Except for “The Lovers from Pont-Neuf” …

They weren’t really homeless either, they were a fantasy.

This film was one of the most expensive in French film history – due to the elaborate reconstruction of the Pont-Neuf. This is how this fascinating artificiality came into your work. When you look back, do you think that the film would have been better if you had been able to shoot in Paris back then as planned?

I can’t look back. Not only would the film have been different, my life would have been different too. I came from black and white film, at the time I was afraid of colors and I didn’t know how to control them in reality. But this replica of a piece of Paris in the Camargue countryside, that was really beautiful.

It seems to me to have been the chance of a lifetime.

As I see it today: I always start with chaos, and then I find people who understand my chaos: cameramen, outfitters who have this gift. I am very happy that cinema enables me to lead a life in chaos.

Interview: Daniel Kothenschulte

Arbor Day: "Nature is the greatest artist"

Gerhard Reusch transforms her works into abstract and surreal images. The Aschaffenburg artist photographs the bark of native trees.

Hay fever: Something is blooming again!

Spring is finally beckoning in all its glory. But that's exactly the problem: cabaret artist Anne Vogd has hay fever.

"Inventing Anna" on Netflix – wasted potential

The Netflix series "Inventing Anna" puts accents in the wrong place and waters down a suspenseful crime. The "Next Episode" series column.

ARD crime scene from Hamburg: The transparent "tyrant murder"

Today's Hamburg crime scene "Tyrannenmord" of the ARD with Wotan Wilke Möhring has no time for the big questions.

Curved Things

About snake smugglers, snake lines and a rare phobia.