When the play he was to stage with the Comédie Française troupe was canceled due to confinement, Christophe Honoré gave birth to the cheerful “Guermantes”, which he evokes at our microphone.
Guermantes is the story of a play that did not take place, confinement requires. But who knows a second life on the big screen. Directed by Christophe Honoré, who was to stage the Comédie Française troupe in this adaptation of “On the side of Guermantes” by Marcel Proust, the feature film tells how, faced with the cancellation, the team continues to play despite everything, for the beauty, the softness and the pleasure of staying together.
And it is a stone’s throw from the Théâtre Marigny, where most of the story takes place, that we find the director to discuss this film halfway between fiction and reality, broadcast on France 5 a few days before its release. in theaters.
DashFUN: If we easily understand what motivated the project, who had the idea? Was there a trigger?
Christophe Honore : It really came from outside. It was France Télévisions which proposed to the Comédie Française, at the time of the first confinement, to record their plays. By evoking in particular the fact that filmmakers were then theater directors for them at that time.
The Comédie Française offered me that, but making a recording does not make me dream. And above all we had not created the show, since we had been interrupted at the time of the first confinement. So I first said no. But they were a little pushy, telling me that I had the right to do whatever I wanted. And that’s something that, for a filmmaker, never happens again. That is to say that, suddenly, you are given the possibility of making a kind of spontaneous gesture, even if it was on a very particular scale of production.
They confirmed to me that I had the right to do whatever I wanted at the end of June , we shot a fortnight – three weeks later. There was a kind of unexpected momentum for me. Like everyone else, I was in a period when I was doing nothing by force of circumstances, where nothing was possible. I know that some filmmakers and writers saw this period of isolation as a privileged moment to start creating. But me, from the moment when it was an imposed time, I could not do anything. Really nothing.
So there was something unexpected and uncertain that I liked. The unexpected and the uncertain are really parameters that no longer exist in cinema. You spend months trying to convince people that your script is worth making into a movie, and there is always a waiting moment to shoot that is very laborious. There it was enough to rush into the open door, but it was not I who asked to open it. It was really opened in front of me.
The unexpected and the uncertain are really parameters that no longer exist in cinema.
So it was planned from the start that the film would be broadcast on France Télévisions before being released in theaters? Or was the passage through the cinemas decided in a second step?
The exit was decided later. We made the film then, with my editor [Chantal Hymans], we worked on it in August, and we ended up with this movie. And I still got my film producer on board to structure this shoot a bit, and I think he was surprised by the film. Because for him too, as a producer, it’s rare to see a film without having read a script. (laughs) And we had shot ten days without knowing at all what we had done.
So he discovered the film without knowing what it was going to be. And with his astonishment and the somewhat new character of the film, he told me that we could offer it to Memento, who had distributed my previous film. [Chambre 212]. They saw it and told us that if France Télévisions agreed, they were ready to play the game. Let the channel broadcast it, but that it would be good if it was screened in theaters. This is how the opportunity to present it on the big screen came.
When you say that your producer didn’t know what the film was going to look like, is it because it was written day by day?
Yes, there was no script. I had a few pages of notes and, above all, I had communicated a lot, from a distance, with each of the actors. So the film was not quite invented from day to day, but it still did not structure itself in sequences with learned dialogues. We were filming at the Théâtre de Marigny. I would arrive in the morning and, in general, I would summon the actors I wanted to shoot in the morning, explaining the situation to them and …