Mystère finally arrives in theaters for the happiness of children, who will be able to discover a moving story between a wolf and a girl. Filmmaker Denis Imbert tells us about his filming experience with these mythical animals.
Mystère, directed by Denis Imbert, introduces us to Stéphane, played by Vincent Elbaz. He decides to move to the beautiful mountains of Cantal in order to reconnect with his 8-year-old daughter, Victoria (Shanna Keil), who has been silent since her mother’s disappearance.
During a walk in the forest, a shepherd gives Victoria a puppy named “Mystery” who will little by little give her back a taste for life. But very quickly, Stéphane discovers that the animal is in reality a wolf… Despite the warnings and the danger of this situation, he cannot bring himself to separate his daughter from this seemingly harmless ball of hair.
On the occasion of the release of this family film, DashFUN went to meet its director, Denis Imbert, to discuss this fabulous shoot in the company of a pack of wolves.
DashFUN: Mystère has been postponed for a year because of the health crisis, were you afraid that the film could not be released in theaters?
Denis Imbert: It was quite disturbing, quite disturbing, quite disturbing. Yes, I was obviously worried that the film would not be theatrically released for theaters, which for me was a terrible problem. This film, I designed it for the cinema, from writing to directing. So in terms of pace, in terms of plan values, in terms of resources.
I really wanted the film to take place over two seasons, summer and winter. But so that, precisely, the spectator can have this journey through the landscapes of Cantal, experience the arrival of autumn. Well, it is certain that today, when I see that films are consumed on iPhones or on television on small screens, not everyone can afford a home theater. So, it was a bit the fruit of my concern, indeed.
This film, I designed it for the cinema, from writing to directing.
You shot with real animals, unlike certain films which increasingly use computer graphics to recreate them by computer. What is your view on these processes?
It is a very interesting question and it is good to be able to express myself on this subject. Thank you for giving me the opportunity. Since I wanted to tell this story between this little girl and a wolf pup, at no time would I have wanted to go through a computer-generated image, through 3D.
What interested me was to film the relationship between this very real child and this very real wolf and to be almost in ethnological observation, to study their relationships. And this 3D cinema is not mine. That wasn’t the point of this movie, anyway. So that means that you have to be patient. And a lot of times, we were the ones who had to adapt to the wolf to get the sequences that were written.
At no time would I have liked to go through a synthetic image, through 3D.
Speaking of the wolf, how do you work with such an animal on the set?
The wolf plays a big part in the success of the film. That is to say that there was no question of domesticating the wolf and there was no question of filming him as a dog. A wild animal had to remain in its element, in nature. And that is really a job. I was lucky to have Shanna Keil, the actress, who really lent herself to this game of impregnation.
She went every week to Muriel, the trainer, to see the wolf cubs and there was this work of complicity that took place between her and the wolves. This allowed us to film scenes that were a bit complicated, even scenes that we didn’t think could be done. We were at Muriel’s a few days ago. Shanna was rediscovering the wolves she hadn’t seen for a year.
You cannot imagine the demonstration of the connection of these two beings. Suddenly, the wolf runs over him, jumps on him, puts himself in a position of submission. I showed these pictures to my son who said to me: But it’s funny because it looks like a dog. I answer him “no”! It is because there is such a strong relationship that he is in submission. So there you have it, that was really the DNA of the movie.
The wolf is really imbued with the young actress. How did it go with the other actors?
It’s funny because we had a pack of seven wolves. Indeed, there is one to one, or even two, who had facilities for connection with man, who had contact with man possible. I have immersed myself in wolves a lot. And then, little by little, they came to familiarize themselves a little with the team. There was also a lot of work at the level of …