MICMACS – Filmmaker (director/co-writer) Jean-Pierre Jeunet on the sheer joy of directing
After working for two years to no avail on the beautiful project Life of Pi for 20th Century Fox, I was so hungry to make a film that I decided to write another original script with my partner since Amélie, Guillaume Laurant.
I wanted to write a story about revenge (to put to rest once and for all Once Upon a Time in the West, by Sergio Leone, THE movie that changed my life). I imagined a band of cranks directly inspired by the toys in Toy Story, seven of them, just like the seven dwarves of Snow White. I also wanted to talk about a much more serious subject, which is human beings whose profession it is to make and sell weapons.
In short, I wanted to make a sort of mix between live cartoon and slapstick, but which also dealt with something entirely serious.
I comforted myself by thinking that after all, The Great Dictator was a comedy, which launched a series of surveys and interviews with real weapons manufacturers, because even if it’s good to laugh it’s better know what the subject matter is.
For the sheer joy of directing, I indulged myself with Micmacs. I put everything in the film that I love, everything that makes up my own bric à brac, almost as like completing a circle: the poster of the film within a film (a nod to Delicatessen), Amélie type jokes, references to the movies of my youth, the cartoons of Tex Avery, the “Mission Impossible” TV series, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton.
I wanted it to look beautiful, to give it the same attention to detail, to have an idea in each scene, which is something Disney and Pixar do so well in their films. As Kurosawa used to say, “Any random frame from a movie must be as beautiful as a painting.”
To quote Alfred Hitchcock: “Some make slices of life, I make slices of cake.” So, bon appétit!