In the labyrinths of the mind
by Mazzino Montinari
- Ariadne, Theseus and then the Minotaur: in his thriller, Dédales, the French director investigates a young girl’s (Sylvie Testud) multiple personalities
Ariadne, Theseus and the Minotaur are some of the characters featured in the first-rate film by René Manzor, Dédales, which is already out in French cinemas and has just been presented in Italy at the EuropaCinema festival. To avoid any misunderstandings this feature length film is set in modern day France and the real protagonists are a psychiatrist (just to stick with the themes of the films in competition here at Viareggio), a strange investigator beset with hallucinations, and a young girl, or boy, who suffers from a multiple personality disorder, who changes from being Ariadne, to then turn into Theseus and then the Minotaur. A fascinating thriller that harks back to the sound traditions of French noir, and American films, even though the director has denied this link.
How did the idea for Dédales come about?
"Three years ago a friend brought me a video to watch. It was just three minutes long and featured a patient who was suffering from a multiple personality disorder. He had 24 personalities! I was shocked as I had always thought, in a prejudiced way, that multiple personalities were put on by people who were pretending to be ill, who played the characters like an actor. But then I was faced with something completely inexplicable but incredibly real. At that point I started to write a screenplay, though trying to keep away from the classic literary representations of this illness, like for example "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde". I wanted something more realistic and raw, so I chose the narrative form of a thriller".
What technical methods did you use to make Dédales?
"The film is shot in super 16mm. Then it was remasterised and put through the colour timing process. Finally, as is usually the case, it was converted back to the classic 35mm format. We had to use digital in the post production phase to make the narration wholly believable. The protagonists have a confused way of looking at things and a distorted view of the facts, they don’t manage to grasp the timing of the action, so I applied a colouration effect, using black and white, hot and cold".
Sylvie Testud, the star of the film, is extremely good, can you tell us something about her acting technique?
"As soon as I’d finished writing the screenplay, I immediately thought of Sylvie for the part of the main character. She is unquestionably talented and she has a great technique. She’s a flexible performer who knows how to change her acting to move from one personality to another without ever giving the impression that she’s faking it. When she has to play a little boy in the film, in effect she is a little boy, and it’s the same for the other characters she played".
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