Captives with Mélanie Thierry: this true story inspired another film! Which ? –

Captives with Melanie Thierry this true story inspired another film

Captives, a new film by Arnaud des Pallières, is in theaters since Wednesday. Changed casting, true story, competing project… Here are 3 filming secrets to know about the film led by Mélanie Thierry.

What is it about ?

Paris, 1894. Who is Fanni who claims to have voluntarily allowed herself to be locked up in the Salpêtrière Hospital? Looking for her mother among the multitude of women convinced of “madness”, Fanni discovers a reality of the asylum quite different from what she imagined, as well as the unexpected friendship of companions in misfortune. The last big ball at Salpêtrière is getting ready. Politicians, artists and socialites will flock there. Last hope of escaping the trap that is closing…

7 years after Orpheline, director Arnaud des Pallières returns with Captives, a film with an exclusively female cast, inspired by the true story of the Bal des Folles which gave rise to a successful first novel (by Victoria Mas) and the film by Mélanie Laurent, which unlike Captives, is a direct adaptation of the book.

Léa Seydoux initially approached

The gestation of this film was quite long. When the project was in its infancy, Léa Seydoux was to play the main role, ultimately assigned to Mélanie Thierry. Charlotte Rampling and Cécile de France had also been announced in the casting.

It is ultimately made up of Josiane Balasko and Marina Fois, both in unsuitable roles, and of Carole Bouquet. Captives is also an opportunity to see Solène Rigot again, who played one of the main roles in Orpheline, Arnaud des Pallières' previous fiction film.

Chaotic production

The filmmaker does not hide having experienced a complicated production for this film. He even describes it as chaotic, since the project had two shutdowns: “Our combined determination, with Jonathan Blumental and Philippe Rousselet, finally allowed us to film in the summer of 2022, with strong commitment from Canal+, in addition to France 2 and three regions: Île de France, Hauts-de-France and Normandy. The film not having had an advance on receipts, the shooting, planned for nine weeks, was reduced to seven, which pushed me to a working method which “gave” the specific cinematographic writing of the film“, remembers Arnaud des Pallières.

Find all the secrets of filming the film

A competing project

If the pitch of the film reminds you of something, it makes sense. Captives actually had a parallel project, first as a book, then as a film. Arnaud des Pallières and Christelle Berthevas had finished writing a first version of their screenplay when they heard about the upcoming release of the novel Le Bal des Folles by Victoria Mas (which gave rise to the film of the same name by Mélanie Laurent on Amazon Prime), which they preferred not to read. The director explains: “Since we already had the outline of our screenplay, our producer did not consider it relevant to take the rights to the book. The publisher therefore went to another producer… Which gave rise to a side project. The idea did not was not pleasant for us but we remained focused on our project.”

And added: “We wanted to tell the daily life of these poor women locked up in the Salpêtrière, according to criteria which today would be of the purest arbitrariness, at the time of the last “ball des fous” which took place in 1894, after the death by Charcot. Typical ball of the end of the 19th century in Paris, where people liked to have fun in hooligan dens, visiting with family the natives of the colonies penned up in “human zoos”. Go and see the crazy people behind their gates for a laugh. If a handful of young progressive doctors decide to put an end to it, the 20th century dawns. The film takes place at this tipping point.” The film is therefore rather complementary to Mélanie Laurent's novel and film, rather than a totally competing project.

Did the Madwoman’s Ball really take place?

Captives, like Le Bal des Folles, takes real events as its starting point. As we recalled at the time of the release of the film Le Bal des Folles on Prime Video, in September 2021, this event did indeed take place in the 1880s. It was organized at the end of February, on the occasion of the Mardi Gras celebration. For Jean-Martin Charcot, this initiative was a chance to offer his patients a series of activities, such as preparations. All dressed in disguises, they danced before the stunned eyes of visitors who were waiting for an abnormal reaction or an inappropriate gesture on their part.

Professor Charcot, who refused to be present during these evenings, had the habit of inviting strangers during his numerous experiments. Thus, he practiced hypnosis or electrical stimulation in public. These self-assured exhibitions were an opportunity for him to extend the prestigious reputation of his establishment. Let us point out, however, that unlike Mélanie Laurent's film, Captives by Arnaud des Pallières opts to focus more on the front.

Posing as “crazy”, Fanni enters the Salpêtrière to look for her mother, of whom the administration has lost track because her identity was falsified in the registers at the request of her family. Intending to reveal her own identity as a sane bourgeois woman when the time comes, Fanni realizes that she is trapped in a place where, like her, each internee claims not to be crazy. Through Fanni's eyes, it is the daily life of the “crazy” people that the film tells. Like a barely magnified image of the condition of women yesterday and todayi”, specifies the filmmaker in the press kit for the film.

Captives was released this Wednesday January 24, 2024.

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