5 years after signing one of the best French animated films, this director successfully moves to science fiction – Actus Ciné

5 years after signing one of the best French animated films, this director successfully moves to science fiction – Actus Ciné
5 years after signing one of the best French animated films, this director successfully moves to science fiction – Actus Ciné

Director of “I Lost My Body”, César for best animated film 2020, Jérémy Clapin tells us about the themes and the making of his second live-action feature film, “Meanwhile on Earth”, currently in theaters.

Currently in theaters, Meanwhile on Earth is the new film by Jérémy Clapin, a French director who was revealed to the general public five years ago with his first feature film I Lost My Body, which won the César for best animated film and best original music.

After I Lost My Body, Jérémy Clapin’s first live-action film

For his new feature film, the filmmaker decided to embark on a live-action adventure, a real challenge for someone who has always made a name for himself successfully in animation.

Filming in real settings and directing a troupe of actors led by the magnetic Megan Northam (Les Passagers de la nuit, Notre-Dame, la part du feu, Salade Grecque), Jérémy Clapin has launched into intimate drama by telling the story of the journey of mourning and resilience of a young woman who lost her brother.

“It’s a desire I’ve had for a long time, live action. As a spectator, I watch more live action films than animated ones. It also needed a subject that lent itself to it. And so I wanted to try to be confronted with a real reality with natural settings, with the work of the actors, all that. I really wanted to confront myself with that.

And I didn’t really have any experience. It’s like a first film, so I didn’t think too much about it. Otherwise, I think I wouldn’t have done it. In animation, when you write something, you can have exactly what you imagine.

There, I had to encounter reality and confront its constraints. I also like it a lot because the film is also written during the shooting and during the editing, whereas in animation, we start with the editing, we really control everything. It’s both very good, but also a little less stimulating.”


The animation is still there

Meanwhile on Earth tells the story of Elsa, 23, who is still mourning the loss of her older brother Franck, an astronaut who mysteriously disappeared 3 years earlier during a space mission. One day, she is contacted from space by an unknown life form who claims to be able to bring her brother back to Earth. But there is a price to pay…

Although this second feature film by Jérémy Clapin is a live-action drama, it still touches on science fiction and, above all, it is punctuated by short animated sequences around which the plot revolves and which link Elsa and her brother, the sky and the Earth and the dead and the living.

“That’s how I conceived the film from the start. We were both in the real shooting on Earth, in reality, but also a little in the imaginary, with what can provoke the story that transforms into animation. What does that provoke in the spectator?

But what does it also say about Elsa’s character? For me, she’s a character who is really struggling internally about whether or not to bring her brother back. This translates into these very different worlds that collide in the film.

For the visuals, I wanted a kind of frozen animation, an animation from the retro future. We can imagine that these are references to cartoons that she and her brother watched together, but treated in black and white as something that had almost existed, in which they really lived. It’s the only place in the film where we see them, finally, both of them, even if they are in a somewhat ghostly space.”


And these animated sequences that evolve in parallel with the main plot were designed before filming, like meeting points, chapters, that punctuate Elsa’s trajectory. This narrative construction made it possible to punctuate and help the writing of the script for the live-action sequences.

Between realistic drama and fantastic tale

Although the film touches on animation and science fiction with a metaphorical presence of extraterrestrial life, it remains nonetheless very anchored in a reality that should leave little room for doubt according to Jérémy Clapin:

“For me, everything that happens is true, but I can’t stop people from saying that it’s not. In any case, I make sure that it exists. There are different types of violence experienced by Elsa in the film: mourning, old age, memory loss, assaults,… She is often violently brought back to reality on Earth while her spirit really goes elsewhere with the beings from elsewhere.

And when we talk about aliens, it’s always through our prism and our knowledge of the world and our collective imagination. In my film, they have this seed-like shape when we contact them. It’s both a seed of hope and a seed of despair. Symbolically, that’s what I wanted to bring to Meanwhile on Earth.”

And it’s more, ultimately, the response she has to these events in the face of physical elements, how she behaves, that interested me in the film, how she fights to overcome a destiny that falls upon her. It’s also her way of going beyond mourning, because her brother has disappeared.

Comments collected on June 18 by Mégane Choquet.

The film “Meanwhile on Earth” by Jérémy Clapin is currently in theaters.



PREV Death of Jacques Boudet, prolific actor seen in “Nos Jours Heureux” and “Plus Belle la Vie”
NEXT After Biden-Putin in Geneva, Taylor Swift in Zurich