After receiving the Oscar for Best Director for Nomadland, Chloé Zhao directed the Marvel film “The Eternals”. A big difference for the filmmaker whom we met during her visit to Paris.
2021 is definitely the year of Chloé Zhao. After receiving accolades from her peers by winning the Oscar for Best Director for Nomadland in March, the Chinese-American filmmaker presents the latest Marvel film, The Eternals. In theaters on November 3, 2021, this action blockbuster seems to be a departure from the filmography of the director, more accustomed to the more confidential films of American auteur cinema.
But as a big fan of the MCU, Chloe Zhao could not refuse the offer made by Kevin Feige, the president of the studios. By hiring a director of this ilk, it is a proposal very different from other productions of the studio which is promised to the spectators. We met the director of Eternals during her visit to Paris at the beginning of November to discuss the genesis of this feature film, her vision and the lessons she learned from the Marvel machine. Interview.
As a fan of the MCU, you’ve never hidden your joy at making a marvel movie. Qhat appeals to you about Marvel productions ?
I love the feeling, as a spectator, of being part of a huge story, of a big family, and that every month or every year, we meet and fall in love with new characters, while learning more on the old ones that we love. People love to talk about Marvel as big action movies, but to me those movies are more character-centric, and I love them. Especially Bucky Barnes and Steve Rogers.
What was the vision you wanted to convey to the public when you started working on The Eternals?
I wanted “The Eternals” to be a very immersive experience for viewers.
The Eternals takes place over several years, in several places around the world, there are about ten characters to introduce, many sets… What was the most difficult to finalize on the set?
There are a lot of things … First it taught me to be patient: everything takes longer to fall into place, for example when you try to change the objective on a plan entirely in CGI of the Deviants . Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen in a snap, and when it does, it’s very satisfying. Another difficulty was the fact that we had these great characters in great scenes, but we had to make choices and some had to be cut in the edit. This is particularly the case of very beautiful scenes with Sprite and Makkari. That was hard.
What did you learn from working on the Eternals?
First, as I said, being patient. If we talk about skills, also working with special effects, which I love. I learned techniques for action scenes too… But above all I learned to lead such a large team. I already led my teams on my previous films, but it was amplified on this one: I had to learn to lead my team with love and kindness (laughs). I try to channel the Sersi [l’un des personnages des Eternels, NDLR] who is in me: “to lead with love”.
“It is a political act to show such a heterogeneous group of characters […] and to say that it is a family “Chloé Zhao
And from a personal point of view?
Politically, there are several themes in The Eternals which each spectator can seize. For me, it is a political act to show such a heterogeneous group of characters, who come from different backgrounds, who are different physically, who speak differently, who love differently… and that, despite everything, they form a family. I think it’s a political act to put those differences aside and say, “We are human first and foremost.” Also, what I wanted to say about the ecological message … (thinks) If humans are the most important in the universe, if our survival is more important than that of wolves, the rainforest or even that of our planet, then we have to do a lot better than what we are doing now. .
Which Eternal do you identify with the most?
I try not to answer these kinds of questions because I feel like I have to choose between my children. But I think there is a bit of Thena (Angelina Jolie) in me, a bit of Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) as well and Ikaris (Richard Madden). A little of…