A wolf, a lion and a young woman who bond with a strong friendship, this is what tells Le Loup et le lion which lands in theaters today. Director Gilles de Maistre spoke about this astonishing meeting at our microphone.
After Mia et le lion blanc (2018) which explored the relationship between a young girl and a lion in South Africa, Gilles de Maistre again set about recounting a friendship between a woman and a feline but this time adding a wolf to the equation! The result: the family film The Wolf and the Lion which shows that brotherly love can take many forms.
DashFUN: A lion and a wolf who interact in a film, it’s never seen in the cinema, how did you come up with this idea?
Gilles de Maistre: It’s true that it’s unheard of and that’s also what excited me when the idea came up on the set of Mia and the White Lion (…) with the person who took care of the lions, who’s called Kevin Richardson and he’s a really great guy. And Andrew Simpson, who is the gentleman of the wolves, who is really a star in all that is working in the cinema with wolves (he made films with Jean-Jacques Annaud, Game of Thrones and Belle et Sébastien too, with dogs) came to see me on the set.
We were all three: the gentleman of the wolves, the gentleman of the lions and I, we wandered in the savannah (…) and the two talked about their experiences, their passions. They were very enthusiastic. I watched them both and that’s where it came from, I said: guys, why don’t the three of us make a movie? It would be fantastic, we would have this kind of meeting of these two mythical predators of cinema who never meet in films (…) and it would be a beautiful parable to talk about nature, to talk about these endangered species.
Also talk about the fact that, a bit like a mirror for humans, a meeting between two sworn enemies could turn into a love story, a story of brothers. That maybe we hate each other because we are afraid of the other but when we know the other and we are no longer in the fight, we can be in love.
We tried to give them a better life.
How and where did you find your main animals?
We shot in Canada (…) and obviously we found the animals [là-bas]. We don’t take animals from the wild, of course. Wild animals are not touched, they are very good where they are and then there are many animals that come from farms all over our countries so we find, unfortunately I would say, wolves and lions in terrible places so we got them back there in Canada.
We tried to give them a better life, especially after the shoot, we left them together in large enclosures where they are happy. It’s always a fairly ethical process: we try to respect animals, to put them in conditions where they are happy to be able to be in front of our cameras and above all to also participate in films and play characters who defend things they are doing. they are victims, their species in life.
Were Mozart (the wolf) and Rêveur (the lion) well played by the same animals throughout the filming?
Yes, they are played by Walter and Paddington. Walter the lion and Paddington the wolf. They are the same since babies. They were a couple that worked very well and we didn’t need to shoot others in front of the camera.
How do you manage such wild animals?
We adapt and we often lead them through strategies (…) thanks to food, thanks to hugs, thanks to play, thanks to organization too. For example, we know that a lion will be much more lively and energetic in the morning very early when it’s cool than at 3 p.m. or 1 p.m. under the dodger, where he will rather be on the ground sleeping and we will not be able to move it. So we organize according to what we need, but we don’t impose anything on them. We are not in the training at all, we are really in the relationship, in the impregnation and in the understanding to organize things.
Afterwards, the animal coordinators have lots of tips in mind to get the animals to do things. I take the example of killing a wolf: obviously we are not going to kill a wolf in real life so that it falls and rolls on the ground, we put essential oils on the ground, the wolf loves it and so he comes and rolls in. In the image, we therefore have the impression that he is falling and that he is dying. We get the animals to do things smoothly without them surrendering …