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The Last Journey of the Enigmatic Paul W.R
Directed by: Romain Quirot
Principal Cast: Hugo Becker, Bruno Lochet, Nicholas Giraud, Emilie Gavois Kahn, Jean Luc Couchard, Dorcas Coppin
Synopsis: Mankind's only hope of salvation rests upon the shoulders of the enigmatic Paul WR, the most talented astronaut of his generation. Mysteriously, a few hours before the mission launch, Paul has disappeared.
Science Fiction seems to be a rare commodity in French film. Why is that?
I think the main problem is money (as usual). SF can be really expensive to create in terms of a new universe, a strange world, and cool creatures. In France, we are more used to making small-budget-social-comedy. Unfortunately, now, a lot of people think we're just not capable to make SF film.
Of course, I totally disagree with that! And I'm not alone. A new generation of young directors want to change things. After all, the inventor of SF is a French guy: Jules Vernes. George Méliès was the first one to make SF films. We have to get back in the game!
The film asks the question: Why would you sacrifice yourself for a humanity incapable of concealing its worst flaws? Conversely, why does humanity seem incapable of revealing its best attributes? Is Paul W.R our best man?
That's a good one! I liked the idea that Paul WR has absolutely no desire to become the savior of humanity. He eludes his mission by wandering alone through an immense desert. He perceives - as does the audience - the thoughts of others. It is his curse: an affliction that he would rather live without. And yes, he mostly focuses on the bad things. PWR, is no ordinary hero: actually, he's part of the problem. He should listen and see the good side of humanity but he's lost. He's a little bit of a coward and looking for somebody who can really understand him. That's exactly why he doubts. And each person he'll meet is going to change his point of view.
The style appears to invoke the Golden Era of Science Fiction with a little Ray Bradbury mixed in. What so appealing about that brand of scifi? And why hasn't that vision of the future actually come to pass?
The film is inspired by works of science fiction that I enjoyed as a child. The ones with flying cars, a threat to the existence of mankind, and one mission that can save us all. As far as influences go, you could say that the film is somewhere in-between Star Wars and Paris, Texas.
I was also really inspired by the works of two authors: Ray Bradbury and Antoine De Saint Exupéry. Bradbury approaches SF with such poetry and detachment and that was a true inspiration to me. He embraces some codes of the genre, but the essence and intrigue of his stories lie elsewhere. While making this film, my ambition was to try and break the codes that science fiction and disaster films have installed over the years. I wanted to tell a story where grand tales of heroism feel out of place.
While writing the scenario, I kept seeing this image of the Little Prince in my mind. The narrator of the book, a child, draws an elephant swallowed whole by a boa constrictor. Relatively proud of himself, he decides to show his drawing to his parents. Strangely, he realizes that adults don't see an elephant swallowed by snake. All they see is the drawing of a strange hat. So, the little boy sits down, and sketches the same drawing, but this time, he makes the elephant visible in the snake's belly because "adults always need explanations."
This perception and attitude concerning "adults", and "other people" is ubiquitous throughout the story. The film is about the difficulty of living with others and understanding them.
What was it about the actor Hugo Becker that embodied your idea of PWR?
I was looking for a guy who has the physique of a "hero" in the general mind. He's the astronaut who is supposed to save us! But he's a hero with a flaw. I really like the old fashion look of Hugo. He reminds me a bit of the guy in an old French film I used to love. Like a young Alain Delon.
What's the secret of the flying car?
Actually, the car crashed during the shoot. She'll keep the secret in her death.