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Interview with Louis Garrel and Leticia Casta on This New World

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A year ago, during the Cannes Film Festival, we managed to communicate with the authors and performers of the main roles in the film – Louis Garrel and Leticia Casta: the couple again played husband and wife. Garrel spoke about working on the script with Jean-Claude Carrière, about the call for adventure and unnecessary things, and about the importance of listening to children and finding a balance in one’s relationship with nature.

You can read more about the film in our review.

Louis Garrel and Leticia Casta at the Cannes Film Festival

Round table with Louis Garrel

When you started working on the film in 2017, the story was completely different, right?

And there were no children in the plan initially. Then Jean-Claude Carrière (co-written by Louis Garrel and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière died in 2021) gave me the first version of the screenplay. He talked about some children who talked about climate issues and the unfair treatment of them, but I was not an environmental activist and I did not see myself in that. Three months later, a young Swede, Greta Tumberg, went on a hunger strike and made headlines. I called Jean-Claude and asked: are you a prophet or something? (Laughs.) That’s when I felt obligated to make this film.

Ten years ago, there was no climate problem for me. I thought about my shoes, my pants, about myself. I had no global awareness. Jean-Claude, in addition to being a very smart and curious man and an unobtrusive movie buff, was also a conscious man. Someone with gigantic geographical and cultural knowledge.

I wanted to make a film that would touch on the topic, but not with a militant tone, but propagandistically. I was not going to define the concepts of good and evil, but wanted to make a satire that would cover the problem, but gave the viewer the pleasure of watching.

Louis Garrel as Abel in the frame of
Louis Garrel as Abel in the frame of “This New World”

When you see children on the screen in search of adventure, you immediately think of the American classic of the 80’s Steven Spielberg and other directors. How do you see childhood?

Childhood is a brief moment when we do not yet pay taxes, do not think about election campaigns and do not seek to rationalize everything unnecessarily. Childhood is a time of adventure. When we are little, we say that when we grow up, we will do this and that, but this is very rare. More often we sit in the room, staring at the phone. The pleasure of watching this movie is first of all that it is an adventure, an adventure with children.

Would you like to make a large-scale adventure film?

I would like to find the right plot and have $ 250 million for its implementation. (Laughs.) Well, This New World is a film about the same values, but it was made from almost nothing. Emmanuel Macron helped a little. (Laughs.) He was a brilliant director. (Laughs.)

But, to be honest, I find Jean-Claude Carrière’s vision prophetic: this story of how a desert can be turned into a sea has a real inspiration. In the 19th century, when Algeria was part of the colonial empire, a Frenchman in charge of the Suez Canal had an inland sea project that would help lower the temperature and make the fields fertile. At that time there were no suitable means and equipment, and the idea was abandoned. But Jules Verne wrote the book The Invasion of the Sea, where he described the plan. I am so confident in Career’s prophetic abilities that I believe it will happen one day. (Laughs.) This New World may seem absurd, but it’s a film of anticipation. That’s why it was important for me to mark the final with a sign of hope.

We can say that today we live in the era of TV series. Of course, “This New World” is a movie, but structurally your dilogy has common features with multi-series projects. What do you think is the difference between movies and TV series?

Movies are what we watch together. The word itself means not only the film, but also the room. In cinemas, especially at festivals, when the movie you love is not liked by the person in the chair next to you, there is a kind of sadness. TV series are something more like masturbation. Cinema is more of an orgy. (Laughs.)

Louis Garrel as Abel in the frame of
Louis Garrel as Abel in the frame of “This New World”

Last year, unfortunately, showed that cinema can no longer be a collective affair.

Unfortunately, this is so. But I hope that soon everything will be as before.

I’m not close to the culture of the series as a whole. It’s like athletics, I like sprints, I don’t like marathons. At the Olympics, I always watch 100 meters, but I don’t run long distances. This is personal taste.

Despite the weightless intonation, your picture undoubtedly has didactic notes. Would you like “This New World” to be shown in schools?

I would be very happy if someone needed it and the film was shown in schools. There are many young people who are aware of the climate, but not all. Not that I wanted Mir to be seen as a manifesto, but based on the momentum of the film, something can be constructed: real projects in life.

Louis Garrel as Abel in the frame of
Louis Garrel as Abel in the frame of “This New World”

Can you name two or three useless and very expensive things that you have?

I have such a watch. When I wrote the script, it was a typical bourgeois situation: things you never wear just lie in the closet. The closet for me is like a small bank, a kind of backup cell. I have such a watch. I never wore them, I just know they’re there.

Round table with Leticia Caste

How do you look like your heroine Marian?

It is very important for me to listen to my children and see them as full-fledged individuals. Marian says a lot about this. And I, like her, am very optimistic.

Do you think that there is a gap between the generations, in the form of idealism, in particular, on the one hand, and pragmatism, on the other?

It depends on who is the idealist and who is the pragmatist.

I would say that children are more pragmatic now. For me, today’s young generation… By the way, it is worth mentioning that many generations coexist in our family: I have a twenty-year-old daughter and an almost one-year-old baby, and each generation needs to adapt, find common ground with each and every one. However, I noticed one thing compared to my own more naive, innocent and carefree childhood – he was not so worried about what would happen tomorrow, including the environment. Although I watched a lot, my grandfather works in the garden, restoring the ruined nature. Compared to me, my children ask me really deep and serious existential questions: “What will happen tomorrow?”, “Can I have children?”, “Will life on Earth continue?”. These are all very right questions.

Leticia Casta as Mariana in the frame of
Leticia Casta as Mariana in the frame of “This New World”

You also have children who are about 12 years old. Are they already worried about these issues?

Of course, in addition to school, they often write papers on this topic, make projects and reports… And then, they were forced to go through covid-19. For example, my 20-year-old daughter, who has to travel and discover the world at this age, was completely deprived of this opportunity, it’s cruel. My children are very concerned about the environment, tolerance, freedom of expression and many other issues of inequality. It seems to me that the next generations are better than us. And this is not an attempt at moralizing, not an attempt to teach a lesson to adults, they are just more aware. And we need to be more aware of what we leave them.

And how did you personally come to this level of environmental awareness?

I came to this early, as I said, I grew up not in the city, but near nature, I spent a lot of time as a child in the woods, there was a farm nearby. My grandfather had a lot of respect for nature, he said we were part of it and she was part of us.

Leticia Casta as Mariana in the frame of
Leticia Casta as Mariana in the frame of “This New World”

Do you miss this life next to nature?

No, everything is fine, because I had the chance to travel a lot and see a lot of different nature all over the world. Nevertheless, I am less and less supportive of life in the city, but for other reasons: people in the city are more aggressive, individualistic, but so far I live in Paris.

The idea in the film is very clear that we should learn from our children, what did you learn from your own?

I learn from them every day, it happens intuitively. The opportunity to share this is a great honor for me.

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