Vincent Paronnaud et Marjane Satrapi • Directors
by Domenico La Porta
03/09/2011 - After the dazzling success of Persepolis [trailer, film focus], Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi were the focus of attention from the press, eager to discover Chicken With Plums [trailer], the latest adaptation of one of their comic books. In attendance at the 68th Venice International Film Festival where the film screened in avant-premiere, the duo looked back at the process of adaptation from still drawing to the magic of the screen.
What was your initial intention in making Chicken With Plums?
Vincent Paronnaud: We wanted to pay homage to the cinema of the 1950s, but we had no real limits with respect to an aesthetic or a particular genre. First and foremost it was about telling a love story, but also talking about the loss of love, about breaking away from the instrument and from music... We then had to find clever ways to achieve our aims.
Marjane Satrapi: It’s a cry of love for Cinema, but also a cry of love for love. It’s important to make art for art’s sake from time to time.
Why did you change the instrument by replacing the tar in the comic book with a violin?
Marjane Satrapi: The tar works very well in the book, but it didn’t work on screen. The instrument was too big and too oriental so we chose to replace it with the violin which can be found everywhere, among the gypsy community or in symphony orchestras on the other side of the world. It’s an international instrument. It also enables the character to move around, which is important when the images are animated.
Will you return to animated cartoons?
Marjane Satrapi: Only time will tell. Up until the film’s release, we won’t know what we’re going to do next. Drawings, in one way or another, will be part of what we do anyway because that’s the world we come from. But for the moment, we don’t have the energy to imagine what comes next from an artistic point of view.
Is it a well-researched Tehran that you show in Chicken With Plums?
Marjane Satrapi: Not really, it’s a fantasy Tehran. Vincent and I don’t really like folklore. We just wanted a place which serves the story as well as possible and our approach wasn’t a documentary one.
Did you wish to tell this story as a fairy tale or as a realistic view on life?
Marjane Satrapi: There is no note of hope in the film because there is none in life. We’re all going to die and we all know it. It’s a film about desire or rather the loss of desire. The desire to eat, laugh and finally to live. In that, the point of view is very realistic, but the narrative approach is that of a fairy tale.
Vincent Paronnaud: Yes, it’s a fairy tale. The relationship with music in the film is typically a mechanism of fairy tales in which objects, ideas or concepts are embodied and the relationships with the characters. We know that the violin isn’t necessarily a poor person’s instrument. You can earn a lot of money playing the violin, but in the film, this is what it symbolises: a love and a way of life that must be relinquished in order to survive.
Didn’t your first experience with real actors scare you?
Vincent Paronnaud: I was dreading that moment. I was dubious about an actor’s work on set, but all that fascinated me. I don’t come from that world and I became aware of the process by which an actor breathes life into a character by working on their role. I witnessed that without having to take action myself by creating life from scratch. It’s very peculiar for an artist.