Antonin Baudry and his team have been preparing and documenting for a long time so that “Le Chant du loup” is as precise as possible. On arrival, is the film believable for real submariners? In 2019, a starship commander answered this question.
The song of the wolf: a breathtaking sensory experience
After signing the comedy script Quai d’Orsay by Bertrand Tavernier, taken from the comic strip he co-wrote with Christophe Blain, Antonin Baudry is directing his first feature film with The song of the wolf. An ambitious, nervous, and immersive first film that gives as much importance to sound as to the image. The song of the wolf begins with an error by the Oreille D’or Chanteraide (François Civil), the first master in charge of acoustic analysis aboard the Titane, a nuclear attack submarine.
His fault puts his crew in mortal danger and then triggers an infernal gear that could sound the end of world peace. Omar Sy, Reda Kateb, Mathieu Kassovitz, Paula Beer and Damien Bonnard complete the cast. The actors also benefited from a trip aboard a military submarine during their preparation, going to the maximum depth that the machine could reach. The objective was to understand the emotions felt underwater but also to become familiar with the gestures of its occupants.
A long research process for Antonin Baudry
Antonin Baudry has meanwhile spent several weeks in a submarine so that his scenario is as precise as possible. In the film notes quoted by Allocinated the filmmaker explains his research process:
All the procedures I show in the film are based on precise observation, from the simplest (detecting an unknown boat) to the most complex (verifying the authenticity of an order from the President of the Republic). I decided to keep the way of being and the language of the submariners as it was, without watering down anything.
I bet that with the images the spectator would understand everything that is happening – as I myself did when I was on board. I believe that the way of speaking, the strange language of the submariners constitutes an important dramatic element for the film, that is why the technical terms have been maintained in their realism and their human truth.
A credible result?
During production, the feature film team was able to count on the advice of the ship’s commander Pierre Rialland. In an interview given to West France in 2019, he explains that he shared his expertise on procedures, uses and how to speak onboard a submarine. Asked about his “assessment of the final result”, he replies:
The way submarines are conducted in operation is very believable. The spectator will be able to appreciate the extraordinary character of the missions of the submariners.
About the presentation of the underwater universe, he adds:
The relationship between the people on board and the exercise of the profession of submariner are very likely. We do this job out of passion, team spirit is central to the success of the mission. Skills are too. We measure at sea at every moment the importance for everyone to make the right decisions. There is no doubt, the universe restored in The song of the wolf is the one I have known for twenty years.
Pierre Rialland specifies that several sequences kept him in suspense. This is for example the case of the prologue and the last half hour. Credibility and an opinion prove, in addition to the success of the song of the wolf, that the efforts of Antonin Baudry and his team were not in vain. When it was released in 2019, the film attracted more than 1.5 million French spectators in dark rooms.