Discussion in 'Literature' started by Leo Perutz, Dec 17, 2015.
Blistering barnacles! NO!
Here is a 4 minute long "making of" featurette with footage we have not seen before:
Here is a new article in which Besson says he would like George Lucas' opinion on the Valerian film (apparently they are in touch from time to time but Lucas is very private):
There is a discussion forum for Valerian (both the comic books/bande dessinée and the upcoming film) here: https://www.reddit.com/r/Valerian/
The debt that Star Wars owes Valerian and Laureline really can not be overstated. Star Wars is hardly the only thing that it has influenced, but there's a fairly liberal amount of things that are almost directly from Valerian and Laureline that are in Star Wars.
Some more concept art for the film here:
New video clip: "Alien Takeover: How Valerian Created 1000 New Species, Frame-by-Frame":
Another extended preview:
Early days but it is receiving some strong initial reviews!
One review is calling it "Star Wars on meth"!
The film was terrible. Turning Valerian and Laureline into a pair of soldiers (particularly trigger-happy soldiers at that) is a complete travesty.
Laureline even shoots and wounds a Shingouz (or whatever they were renamed in the film).
I only hope this film doesn't put people off exploring the comics. The "Hostages of Ultralum" was most recently translated into English by Cinebooks and it is one of the best I have read so far, IMHO.
Oh hell, that sounds awful. I can't say I was encouraged when I heard they'd gone military on it anyway as the books don't go that route.
Cinebooks are up to Vol 18 and will be releasing Vols 19-21 across the rest of the year with 22 out in Feb 2018.
The film is weird. In some ways it critiques the military (the villain is a general who is trying to kill the survivors of a war crime he committed) but Val and Laureline themselves are both military officers in this version (no reference at all to Laureline being a medieval peasant girl) and they basically shoot everyone in sight. I was disgusted actually.
Actually, the other thing is that towards the end, Laureline starts questioning Valerian's mindset whereby he is "always following orders" instead of following his heart and showing compassion, so perhaps they are setting up a sequel where these characters are no longer in the military. Besson is already talking sequels, so we can only hope.
Overall, the film is weird: minor characters like the Shingouz are presented faithfully and we see the transmuter and the psychic jellyfish but the two main characters are completely different from their comic book counterparts.
For people reading this thread who are unfamiliar with the Valerian comics and film, imagine someone tried to do a big-budget spectacle based on Doctor Who's Tenth Doctor era. They recreate minor characters, like the Face of Boe, faithfully and the Tardis is more or less the same, but they inexplicably rewrite Ten and Rose as pair of trigger-happy space soldiers from the future. That's what this film is like.
Ffffuuuuuu..... Shiiiiii..... Wait, need to be family friendly..... Bugger.
In his dreams, the film tanked, badly - with everyone who invested getting so burnt, whatever he may talk of is likely dead already.
Though, from what you describe, maybe that's for the best.
One more example of this that will upset you even more is that there is a potentially beautiful moment where Val and Laur are lifted aloft by iridescent butterflies. It is a charming and quite original scene but they discover the butterflies are bait and they are on the end of fishing lines. Once he is reeled in by the alien who caught him, Val promptly blows his brains out - no dialogue, no attempt at communicating - just shoots him. Hence there is a real juxtaposition between beauty and mindless killing making this version of Val and Laur look like villainous thugs.
There are other examples of this kind of thing in the film: Ethan Hawke's pimp being gunned down by Valerian is another example: Val is asked not to wear a gun into a strip club but he has one concealed anyway. When Hawke finds out, Val shoots him.
To be honest, I am shocked at the level of violence in general. I would expect this from a Hollywood action film but not from a French piece, although I know Besson is often referred to as the "most American of French directors" - maybe he thought mindless violence would appeal more to overseas audiences, including the American market. If so, it has backfired badly on him.
It doesn't matter if it tanked as he already had pre-sales deals, apparently: http://www.slashfilm.com/luc-besson-valerian-2-and-3/
Heaven knows I don't know much about film financing but at the end of the day, though someone has to lose money surely and they wouldn't want to invest in more of these.
This interview is weird too as he calls Val and Laur "cops" whereas they are unambiguously soldiers (and referred to as such multiple times) in the film:
These days compassion is seen as a weakness and empathy is boring. If the character isn't aggressively fighting everyone that so much as disagrees with them it's not worth filming.
At any rate, you sold me on the comics -- I'll look into those.
For me the material doesn't jump time that well, it is of its time and, for some albums, that's quite some time ago.
I've found other series from Cinebooks to be far better but there's something about this one that has kept me coming back. It's very consistent, the stories are fun, the characters are good.
I agree with the comments by both of you. In some ways the comics are dated and the characterisation is weak but the ideology is nice. They aren't heavy-handed allegories like, say, 1960s episodes of Star Trek. Rather, they just lightly touch on issues for a few panels and then move on, which seems to typify the French approach to social commentary.
@Barriss_Coffee I strongly recommend "Hostages of Ultralum" as your starting point, in which Laureline shows her contempt for arms dealers (making her the polar opposite of her film counterpart) and which also critiques both capitalist exploitation of workers AND the heavy-handed unethical tactics often employed by trade unions to oppose their exploitive bosses. It is one of the most well written and entertaining of the comics. If you like that, you will probably like most of the series.
@Jedi Ben yes some of those other series from Cinebooks are great. Have you checked out Thorgal yet (mix of Norse myth and sf - imagine Clark Kent as a baby landing in Viking Iceland instead of 1930s Kansas...) and Green Manor for the blackest of black humour? The historical series on Queen Margot is also okay but it has some anti-Huguenot bias.
After I made my posts last night, it occurred to me that maybe the reason why Besson was conflating cop and military in his interview was that perhaps he was thinking in terms of the film versions of Val and Laur being more like gendarmes, as real life gendarmes are distinct from normal French police and come under military authority. If so, was not made clear onscreen.
I guess the other interesting thing is the comic's artist was involved in the making of the film so he presumably gave it his blessing despite the radical changes to the characters of Val and Laur and the militaristic tone.
Oh, I've got loads of Cinebooks - GreenManor is indeed bleak humour. Thorgal's excellent.
Really enjoy Scorpion and IR$, Largo Winch and XIII, plus Van Hamme's numerous other works.
Blake & Mortimer are similar to L&V in that it's age shows but they're fun stories and you can see Herge's influence to a degree.
Orbital is brilliant SF and Alone's good too.
Quite like a lot of Leo's work too.
Thanks. Will check some of those out. I only buy them occasionally because the cost is a bit high where I am (exchange rate and shipping fees).
Whereabouts are you?
I'd agree they can look pricey, but I find the density of the material makes up for it - each album does a lot with its space whether it's 48, 56, 64 or 72 pages. Though I'm always buying online with 35-40% off!
I will buy some more when they finish translating the entire series. (I also bought some untranslated ones a while ago to help me learn French.)
Ah, yeah - shipping fees will be a pain in the arse for you.
Is digital / kindle an option for you instead?
Honestly, while this sounds bizarre on one level, on another level it's not surprising at all. Your Doctor Who analogy is extremely helpful as someone who's never seen the source material, but from the discussion I'm reading here I'm actually more reminded of my oft-stated belief that Star Trek fundamentally does not work on film, because the necessary storytelling techniques just don't translate and the result, pretty much of necessity, is usually just a sci-fi action film - often a good action film, mind you, but not one that particularly feels like Trek. It sounds like a TV series, or even miniseries, would have been a much more likely way to do a faithful adaptation.
Yes, I have often heard Trek fans say that. I tend to agree insofar as films like Wrath of Kahn demonstrate this: generally it is the most popular amongst fans of the show but it is a much more militaristic and action orientated take on the series, albeit one with some literate and thoughtful moments. Arguably TMP and Final Frontier are closest to the spirit of the original series but these are normally less liked as films.
There is apparently an animated television series version of Valerian and Laureline called Time Jam. I am yet to watch it but I understand it is dubbed into English. Some people on forums are saying it is a better adaptation so I will check it out soon.
Some of my favourite science fiction films though are already foreign language ones, such as Tarkovsky's version of Solaris, which well and truly eschew the violent action film premise. Even a Hollywood endeavour like The Day the Earth Stood Still proves it can be done.