Arte is broadcasting “Frantz” by François Ozon this evening. The opportunity to recall the inspiration of this film, freely adapted from a play, which had already produced a feature film directed by Ernst Lubitsch in the 1930s. Explanations.
Warning, this article contains a spoiler
In the aftermath of the 14-18 war, in a small German town, Anna went every day to the grave of her fiancé, Frantz, who died on the front lines in France. But that day, a young Frenchman, Adrien, came to meditate at the grave of his German friend. This presence following the German defeat will provoke passionate reactions in the city … This is how the plot of Frantz, a drama by François Ozon released in 2016 and broadcast this evening on Arte, presents itself.
For François Ozon, as he confided to our microphone on the occasion of the film’s release, the idea was to make a film “on lies and secrets“, Furthermore “in extremely dramatic times“, a wish that the filmmaker had for a long time.
My first reaction was to let it go. How to get past Lubitsch ?!
This is how he had the idea of taking an interest in a play by Maurice Rostand from 1930 (
The man I killed
), seen for him as “a good starting point“. But very quickly, he realizes that another filmmaker had already adapted it, in this case Ernst Lubitsch: Broken Lullaby.”My first reaction was to let it go. How to get past Lubitsch ?!“. But in the end, the director chose to be inspired by it freely and to adopt another point of view, that of the young widow and not of the French soldier but kept some of the scenes created for the first film. Finally, a second part has also been added to the original story, which centers on the character of Anna.
“I told myself that with my point of view as a Frenchman, in 2016 and knowing that there was a second war, it was going to be something very different. And I really decided to be on the side of the Germans, on the side of the losers of the War, and of the young Anna“, specifies François Ozon.
In addition, François Ozon explains that he recommended two films to his actors to put themselves in the right atmosphere during the filming of Frantz: The White Ribbon by Michael Haneke and The Fever in the Blood by Elia Kazan.
Frantz is the synthesis between themes already mentioned in François Ozon’s films (mourning, initiation into love) and the many new challenges he was faced with during filming: “Unconsciously, many of my obsessions may be there. But approaching them in another language, with other actors, in places other than France, requires a renewal (…)“, he explains.”There were a lot of exciting challenges in this movie, I had only filmed the war, the fighting; a small German town, Paris in black and white, in German …“.
Recall that François Ozon, currently highlighted on Arte, is in the running for the 46th Cesar ceremony which will take place this Friday, March 12, broadcast live and unencrypted on CANAL +. His latest feature film, Eté 85, is cited in 12 categories, including best film and best director.
And yes, these French films are remakes!