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5 years after signing on for one of the best French animated films, this director successfully transitions into sci-fi

5 years after signing on for one of the best French animated films, this director successfully transitions into sci-fi

Now in theaters, Meanwhile on Earth is the new film from French director Jérémy Clapin, who made his debut five years ago with his first feature I Lost My Body, which won Césars for Best Animated Film and Best Original Score.

After I Lost My Body, Jeremy Clappen’s first live-action film

For his new feature film, the filmmaker decided to venture into live action, a real challenge for someone who has always excelled in animation.

Filmed in real-life settings and led by a cast led by the magnetic Megan Northam (Night Passengers, Notre Dame, La Part du Feu, Salade Grecque), Jeremy Clappen has turned to an intimate drama about grief and travel. The resilience of a young woman who lost her brother.

“It’s a desire I’ve had for a long time as a viewer, I watch more action films than animation, and so I wanted to create a confrontation of the work with the real reality of the actors, all of that.

And I really had no experience. It’s like the first movie, so I didn’t think much of it. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have done it. In animation, when you write something, you can have exactly what you envision.

There I had to face reality and confront its limitations. I also like it a lot, because the film is written during shooting and editing, and in animation we start with editing, we really control everything. It’s both very good, but also a little less stimulating.”

The animation is still there

Meanwhile on Earth tells the story of 23-year-old Elsa, who is still grieving the loss of her older brother Frank, an astronaut who mysteriously disappeared 3 years ago during a space mission. One day he is contacted by an unknown life form from outer space who claims to be able to bring his brother back to Earth. But there is a price to pay…

If this second Jeremy Clappen feature is a live-action drama, it is still about science fiction, and above all it is highlighted by small animated sequences around which the story revolves and which connects Elsa and her brother, heaven, earth and the dead. and alive.

“That’s how I created the film from the beginning. On Earth, we were both on real shoots, but also a little bit in the imagination, what kind of story that turns into animation, what does that do in the audience?

But what does this also say about Elsa’s character? To me, he’s a character who really has an internal struggle with whether or not to bring his brother back. It leads to these very different worlds colliding in the film.

For the visuals, I wanted some kind of frozen animation, animation from the retro future. We can imagine that these are allusions to cartoons that he and his brother watched together, but seen in black and white as something that almost existed in which they really lived. It’s the only place in the movie where we finally see both of them, even if they’re in somewhat of a ghostly space.”

And these animated sequences, which take place in parallel with the main story, are created before shooting, such as meeting points, chapters that highlight Elsa’s trajectory. This narrative construction allowed for punctuation and helped script the live-action sequences.

Between a realistic drama and a fantastic tale

If the film deals with animation and science fiction with the metaphorical existence of extraterrestrial life, it still remains very much tied to reality, which according to Jeremy Clappen leaves no doubt:

“For me, everything that happens is true, but I can’t stop people from not being. At least I do. There are different types of violence experienced by Elsa in the film: mourning, aging, loss. of memory, attacks, etc. He is often violently brought back to reality on Earth, while his soul really goes elsewhere with beings elsewhere.

And when we talk about aliens, it’s always through our prism, our knowledge of the universe and our collective imagination. In my film, they have this somewhat rough shape when you contact them. It is both a seed of hope and a seed of despair. Symbolically, this is what I wanted to bring to earth at the same time.”

And it’s more, ultimately, the response to these events in the background of the physical elements, how it behaves, that made me interested in the film, how it struggles to overcome the fate that is thrown at it. It is also his way of mourning because his brother disappeared.

Comments collected on June 18 by Megan Choquette.

Jeremy Clappen’s “Meanwhile on Earth” is in theaters.

Source: Allocine

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