With attribute modesty and humor, the Dardenne brothers opened up about their profession at a masterclass in Lyon for the Lumière Competition, the place they’re receiving the Lumière Award for lifetime achievement.
However earlier than they answered the questions put to them by competition director Thierry Frémaux, the Belgian brothers graciously gave option to a few representatives of an area collective, who spoke within the identify the hundreds of individuals whom the pandemic has pushed into poverty.
Whereas emotion left Jean-Pierre Dardenne speechless, his brother Luc mentioned, “Few issues have modified within the 20 years since we made “Rosetta” [their first Palme d’Or in 1999]. The coronavirus shouldn’t be accountable for all the pieces, and there are nonetheless so many inequalities on the planet. They’re proper to struggle.”
“Being excluded from the world of labor, of manufacturing, of consumption, of the human neighborhood, creates a sense of humiliation, of worthlessness, of not present. That’s what ‘Rosetta’ was about and it’s nonetheless true immediately – that solitude, it’s a query of human dignity.”
“There’s a accountability that comes with being a filmmaker,” Luc Dardenne added. “After all we prefer it when folks like our movie, but it surely’s even higher they will turn into Rosetta, share her misery, turn into her. If a movie could make somebody who’s locked up inside their very own pre-conceived notions turn into another person, and if this sense stays with them, that’s what we wish to obtain.”
How do they obtain this?
“In lots of our movies, there’s this notion of belonging. Rosetta has no place in society, she doesn’t know the place she belongs. So when directing, we try to discover a place for her. We put the digital camera in ‘the improper place’” Luc Dardenne defined. “In order that the character isn’t apparent to the viewer. Should you really feel you’re shedding the character, you’re extra .”
The brothers mentioned that a whole lot of the work is finished properly earlier than the digital camera begins rolling, in the course of the weeks of rehearsal that precede the shoot. Costumes and equipment play an enormous half, and it was throughout rehearsals with Olivier Gourmand for “The Promise” (1996) that the thought of their trademark close-up monitoring shot of the again of the character’s head emerged.
“We don’t wish to write a narrative for somebody who doesn’t know what tomorrow is made from. So with Rosetta, the digital camera is at all times behind her. If we predict she’s going to show left however she turns proper, the digital camera needs to be nimble and comply with, a bit like a digital camera in a war-zone,” mentioned Luc Dardenne. “It’s extra of a documentary fashion within the sense that we’re filming somebody whom we don’t have management over. Even in the case of the dialogues, we shoot as if we’re not conversant in them.”
Wanting again firstly of their profession and the transition from documentary filmmaking, the brothers welcome what they name the “salutary flop” of “Je pense à vous” (1995).
“We had been self-conscious like anybody who’s self-taught. We felt like a pair of elephants coming into the china store of cinema. Nevertheless it’s good to be afraid, it offers you the power that comes from laborious work. It was a wholesome failure,” mentioned Jean-Pierre Dardenne.
Coming from the world of documentaries is what helped them craft their distinct, uncluttered fashion.
“Every particular person we filmed was distinctive, had their very own story. In our movies, we by no means need our character to only be the advocate of a trigger. Every character may be very distinct,” mentioned Jean-Pierre Dardenne. “In all of our movies, the query we ask ourselves is: How are we going to save lots of our characters? Twenty years in the past, it was Rosetta, and now it’s Ahmed (“Younger Ahmed”, 2019).
“We thought, ‘My God, it’s horrible, we by no means thought that in our Western society a 15-year previous boy might be changed into a spiritual fanatic, “ mentioned Jean-Pierre Dardenne. “Our aim wasn’t to learn how he turned radicalized, however whether or not we might be capable to save him. The reply was to place him earlier than the worry of loss of life. Like each little one, he referred to as for his mom.”
Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne are being awarded the Lumière Award in Lyon on the twelfth Lumière Competition, following within the footsteps of the likes of Clint Eastwood, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Catherine Deneuve, Jane Fonda and Francis Ford Coppola.