News from the Locarno Festival

Mixing Genres

Madame Hyde - Concorso internazionale

Mixing Genres


A still from the film "Madame Hyde"


© Les Films Pelleas
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In introducing his new film premiering in Locarno, Serge Bozon explains that he consciously mixes different genres in the movie and that they alternate throughout: "For example, there is a scene of murder, and immediately afterwards there is a little comic one. In this kind of transition, the goal or the risk is that it is rather abrupt according to the director. But he assumes responsibility for it and thinks it is interesting for the public. The director says that these breaks do not occur at the end of the film. At the end, only dark tones take over, so there is no break anymore.

Bozon is immediately committed to the problematic side of the special effects of the film. First he imagined doing everything on the set, then he was forced to use post-production because these tricks did not alter the appearance of Isabelle Huppert enough. For the illumination of Madame Hyde, it is the passage to the negative that creates this effect of light, different from the fire. According to Bozon, this idea of enlightenment goes hand in hand with the fact that Madame Hyde is not a demonic character, but more like a light that travels the suburbs and is allowed to approach people close to Malik, the main character.

It is a fact that there are almost only people of color attending high schools in Paris's banlieues: "What I wanted to show in the film is that among these students who appear at the beginning not interested in school, there is one, Malik, who is very insolent, but who can transform himself, and step by step likes to learn.”

Making a film about teaching, is necessary to confront the subject of education frankly. The director insists that the good films about school always have a complete class scene: "The goal was not to impress the viewer by imposing on him a knowledge beyond reach, but the goal was that he could put himself in the place of the character of Malik, learning something new. The goal was therefore for the student to understand but also to feel the passion for understanding the methodology.”

The director was a professor himself, but he was inspired mostly by current professors who work outside of Paris. Then he visited their classroom: “I think that compared to my other films, this one has a more sincere side to it, because I had experience in the field of teaching.” Three scenes of classes create an evolution in the movie: firstly the turning point scene with the geometry, secondly the scene of inspection that is both comic and joyful, thirdly there is a last course, which is not math neither physics but more philosophy. In this scene, it is less the content of the course than the gradual collapse of Mme Géquil that matters: “This is the moment that I find most moving in relation to the class. Because I made close-ups shots of the students.”

Isabelle Huppert was the only possible choice for the role of Madame Hyde, she had already acted in Tip Top (2013) but in a very different style: "In Tip Top, she was more in the violence and provocation, there it is the other way around, Authority, lacking radiance, the contrary of his character in Tip Top. The director reveals also that the actress made several proposals, as in the last scene of the class where she collapses while speaking, as her transformation continues. The director thought to go through special effects to underline the transformation without performativity but she did actually play the scene by falling on the ground. Finally the director reveals that the character was written for the actress.

Adrien Kuenzy

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