Magazine article Screen International

Luc Besson Talks 'Valerian' Plans

Magazine article Screen International

Luc Besson Talks 'Valerian' Plans

Article excerpt

"It's the adventure of my life," the director told an intimate gathering of select press as he offered sparse details on Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets, due to start production in January 2016 and open in the US as a PG-13 film via RED (Relativity EuropaCorp Distribution) in July 2017.

The project, which was one of the hottest pre-sales titles in Cannes, is adapted from Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézieres' bestselling French comic book series that launched in 1967.

"It's Mr & Mrs Smith in space," said the director, a life-long fan who said he was 10 when he first bought the comics. "They're super-agents who travel through time and space. They work for the Human Federation."

Besson tore up his original script after he saw Avatar. "It wasn't enough," he said of his first attempt. "That's what I like about other directors. They show you the way. They push you or they kill you.

"Jim [Cameron] opened the door. It's not [necessarily] the storytelling... it's the energy and the dimension he brings." Roughly half of the original script made it into the revision.

Besson remained coy about revealing further plot details, save to say the storyline comprises a romance between the eponymous hero and his highly intelligent companion Laureline and their mission to thwart an enemy whose identity may not be immediately apparent.

'The Ambassador Of The Shadows'

The particular comic book from the 23-strong series that lends its inspiration to the film is The Ambassador Of The Shadows and takes place mostly on a 12-mile wide space station populated by 8,000 species.

Around two dozen richly textured boards of concept art showed a panoply of aliens, spaceships and environments, ranging from lazy cops, hardcore militarised police and information traders to coveted jellyfish and a gorgeous princess who expresses herself by changing the colour of her skin.

The lavish images were reminiscent of Blade Runner, Total Recall, Alien, Avatar and Star Wars and yet were strikingly original in their own right.

Four artists dotted around the globe are responsible for the drawings after a global scout saw the filmmakers send out 1,000 letters to leading art schools.

To this day the quartet has not met each other and only communicate with the director once a week via Skype. One works in China, one in Turkey, one in France and one in a location that Besson said he could not establish. …

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