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AN INTERVIEW WITH YANN ARTHUS-BERTRAND Co-writer and Director

When did you feel the need to make this movie?

When I invited Al Gore to show his film, An Inconvenient Truth, to the French Parliament, I realized just how much impact a movie could have, even more than a TV program. I saw how moved the audience was—to tears in some cases—and I said to myself that a feature film was an excellent way of reaching people. It also seemed a natural progression from photography and TV programs. It occurred to me that by taking photographs of the Earth, my subject was humanity, which is the same logic you find in cinema.

This is your first feature film and a hugely ambitious project. From production to shooting and editing, did you encounter many difficulties?

Armand Amar, a composer and friend, introduced Denis Carot, the producer of Live And Become, to me. He said yes right away, just like Luc Besson. That's when the going got tough! When you're given so much money to make such a unique film—shot entirely on high-definition from a helicopter— it's a massive responsibility with constant stress. I worked through it on instinct, as always, learning as I went along. We soon realized that the crew in the helicopter had to be pared down to the pilot, cameraman and vision engineer. Then we had to overcome technical issues stemming from the new camera we were using and the shooting conditions, which were different in every country we flew over. Also, I made the movie without a script, based on a single page synopsis. I knew the story I wanted to tell, but the narrative only emerged as we were shooting, especially the central issue of energy—first the energy of human muscle power, then the revolution sparked by what we call "pockets of sunlight", oil. In the end, it really is the movie of a photographer who's not used to restrictions.

What is the film's core message?

The film has a very clear message. We have a greater impact on the Earth than it can bear. We overconsume and are depleting the Earth's resources. From the air, it's easy to see the Earth's wounds. So, Home simply sets out our current situation, while saying that a solution exists. The film's subtitle could be It's Too Late To Be A Pessimist. We have reached a crossroads; important decisions must be taken to change our world. Everybody knows about what the film says, but nobody wants to believe it. So Home adds its weight to the argument of environmental organizations that we need to revert to a more commonsensical approach and change our consumer way of life.

This also involves the film being distributed in a quite unprecedented way...

I got the idea of distributing the movie on pretty much every format, for free whenever possible, after talking to Patrick de Carolis who wanted to buy the film for France Télévisions. He told me that he couldn't broadcast it until two years after its theatrical release. I went to see Luc Besson and said we should distribute Home free of charge. He replied that it was impossible, before being won over by the idea of a movie being freely accessible all over the world on the same day. It had never been done before and it was made possible by François-Henri Pinault, the Chairman and CEO of PPR, who immediately gave his backing to our movie. What I really want is for the people whose consumption has a direct impact on the Earth to feel the need to change their way of life after seeing the movie.

How did you envision the voiceover and music?

The text of the voiceover was crucial, of course. I was greatly inspired by the work of Lester Brown, the famous American environmentalist, and his book State of the World. I also worked with Isabelle Delannoy, a longtime collaborator of mine. As for the music, obviously enough, I asked Armand Amar, the best friend in the world and one of the best French musicians. He also specializes in world music and voices and I wanted that kind of cultural mix on the soundtrack.

How did you develop the film's rhythm?

I like the slowness of wonderment, so I wanted the movie to take its time. Technical constraints linked to the helicopter's weight and the camera we were using led us to shoot a lot of scenes in slow motion. That's what I like about the movie—it's contemplative. It's also a film that causes you to listen and stop to think. People don't like hearing some of the things the movie has to say, but I wasn't prepared to make any concessions.

Why the title, Home?

It was Luc Besson's idea and it became the obvious choice. It's highly symbolic because ecology is the study of our relationship to our home environment.

Home is carbon offset. What does that involve ?

All the CO2 emissions engendered by making of the film are calculated and offset by sums of money that are used to provide clean energy to those who don't have any. For the last ten years, all my work has been carbon offset.

What do you hope audiences will take away with them?

Besides changing their way of life, I'd like people to want to help, to share. There's a magnificent quote from Théodore Monod: "We've tried everything, except love". I hope this movie will be synonymous with a lot of love.

www.yannarthusbertrand.org
www.goodplanet.org