He’s the visionary director behind Leon, The Fifth Element and Lucy, and this summer he’s setting his sights on the stars once again. To celebrate the release of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Luc Besson is today behind the lens at TechRadar.
From space travel to time travel, the future of cinema to the future of science fiction tech, today we’re celebrating the shiny, the starlit, the far-out, the filmic and (most importantly) the fun, with Besson’s guiding hand directing a suite of features.
We sat down with Luc Besson in London ahead of the UK premiere of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and here’s what he had to say. For the full interview, check out the video below. Otherwise, grab your multipass and jump in your skyjet; may we introduce, in his own words, Luc Besson.
My first introduction to science fiction was with Valérian and Laureline. I was ten years old. Every Wednesday there was a magazine called Pilote in France, and there was two pages of Valérian and Laureline every week. It was the first time I’d seen a girl and a guy in space, agents travelling in time and space. That was amazing.
On the movie side it was 2001: A Space Odyssey by Kubrick. I was probably 11 – which was kind of a weird film for an 11 year old boy to watch, but I saw it twice and I just loved it. I didn’t understand everything for sure, but as a French person, we’re always very strange as we can appreciate something even if we don’t understand it.
With Valerian, the themes were developed inside; it’s not the ‘superhero’ type of film, it’s not a cheeseburger – something you eat and then forget. There’s lots of things inside. You can watch the film two, three, four, five times and you’ll still see new things; the theme of living together, protecting the planet.
When you watch society, for a long, long time human beings were number one, and business was number two. But a couple of years ago we switched. We’ve made people number two, and I think that’s a very dramatic decision that we have to correct. We absolutely have to put people back first. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is about that – people living in paradise being wiped out by stupidity, by government, by politics, by economics.
"The future is a white page"
I think the internet changed everything. There’s two big movements – first was Guttenberg, when we invented printing. Before that there was only the Bible which was allowed to be printed. As soon as books spread, knowledge spread.
And I think it’s the same for the internet – no matter where you are, Norway, Greenland, India or Timbuktu, you now have access. And if you don’t have enough money, you always know someone who has a computer, or there’s a cafe where you can go on the internet.
This knowledge is just tremendous, really sharing the entire knowledge of the entire human race. It’s wonderful.
What makes me sad though is most of the time, what we’re watching on it is just a dog on the skateboard, and then suddenly there’s 200 million views. It may be a very nice dog, but come on! So the tools are amazing, but what we’re doing with them are not at the ‘top’ I think.
The past is written. The present? We have to deal with it. But the future is a white page. So I don’t understand why people on this white page are putting all this darkness. Everything is dark, it’s raining, the superhero is wondering what he’s going to do. ‘Am I going to save the world? Or not?’.
God! Let’s have some color! Let’s have some fun! Let’s at least imagine a better world. Maybe we won’t be able to do it, but we have to try.
And with that in mind, we’re turning TechRadar over today to the realm of science-fiction and space-bound science fact in tribute to the visions of the future Besson and his films have given us. Here’s what we’ve got in store for you.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is released in UK cinemas August 2nd, and is out now in the US.
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Luc Paul Maurice Besson is a French film director, screenwriter, and producer. He directed or produced the films Subway, The Big Blue, and La Femme Nikita. Besson is associated with the Cinéma du look film movement