Lucas Belvaux • Director
The creator of three films
by Mazzino Montinari
- The Belgian director presented his La Trilogie at Noir in Festival. An ambitious cinematographic project that unfolds in three different styles: comedy, thriller and melodrama
The Belgian director Lucas Belvaux presented his latest opus at the “Noir in Festival” in Courmayeur. La Trilogie is a decidedly ambitious project. It consists of three distinct films of three different genres: a comedy, a “noir”, and a melodrama. Each film is related to the other three because all of them were made within the same time period, but each also stands as a film in itself, alternately narrating the stories of two main characters while keeping the others in the background.
How was La Trilogie conceived?
“I had been thinking of this project for ten years. What attracted me the most was the idea of continually changing the camera’s perspective: one character could be the protagonist and suddenly become an extra. Moreover, in one film it was possible to express myself through three different cinematographic genres. When I finished writing my second film, Poure Rire!, I had to concentrate on finding the money to make it. I knew it would take a while to obtain the necessary financing and so I began writing the screenplay for La Trilogie in the meantime. Day after day I saw that the project continued to evolve. I didn’t yet know that I would actually be able to go through with it. “It doesn’t matter,” I used to think, and I would continue working anyway. At a certain point financing came through for my second film and I stopped working on La Trilogie, but I restarted with even more conviction. As regards financing, I immediately found a producer who was interested in the screenplay. And I had no trouble in convincing the cast that the project would be a success. The only hurdle to overcome was when I actually went to meet the producer who would allow me to make the film. Unfortunately, those who are putting up the money usually understand little about cinema and think first about income and eventual losses. In other words, directors have to deal with people who are not willing to take a risk and who don’t bother much with contents or style. In my case, I was presenting a truly original project that was considered to be very risky by those not in the business. My potential backers always asked me, for example, about the possibility of the first episode being a flop and then what would happen to the other two? I answered that making three films contemporaneously, using the same sets and the same actors, wouldn’t really cost much more than making a single long movie. They would be able to invest as much money as what one major production would cost, but would end up with three films. If one doesn’t do well, there are always the other two to guarantee the investment”.
Undoubtedly, the editing is an important part of La Trilogie.
“I made three films following three different cinematographic styles: comedy, thriller, and melodrama. When I was shooting one scene, I was already thinking about the connections between the various planes. In any case, when we got to the editing, I handed the project over to three different people. In the first place because if I had used only one editor I would have never finished; secondly, because I needed three different viewpoints. I had written the screenplay, I had directed it, and I also acted. So I really needed an outside point of view. It wasn’t simply cutting and pasting. The editor is the true storyteller who makes important decisions, including the use of music and, in general, sound. I believe that the editing of a film is truly a mystery to be revealed each time. It is an aspect that is peculiar to cinema alone, and to no other art form”.
You were born in Belgium but have often worked in France. La Trilogie is a French-Belgian co-production. How do you think of yourself?
“I was born and raised in Belgium, my family is still there. My native country is small and, even more importantly, divided into two parts with two distinct languages. Movie-goers are few and tend to watch French films. This led me to consider France more seriously. But it doesn’t mean that I belong to a typically Belgian surrealist tradition. Let’s say that I am a French cineast who hasn’t betrayed his origins. In Belgium, directors number about a dozen, and they must always aim for international success because economic means are so limited. However, La Trilogie was made because there was a Belgian co-producer. And I have to say that it’s great to think that this little country that is divided in two can help one of the richest cinema traditions in the world to produce a film. I am very proud of all of this”.
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