The French Dispatch, Angoulême’s pride in being Ennui-sur-Blasé

Wes Anderson’s last feature film, in theaters since October 27, was shot largely in the prefecture of Charente. The city did not take offense at this unflattering name and, on the contrary, keeps excellent memories of the filming that it is trying to perpetuate.

At first glance, the name does not inspire anything very engaging. When it appears on the screen, from the first minutes of the film, it seems rather announcing an unbearable monotony. A cockroach promise. “Ennui-sur-Blasé”, “Ennui” for the close friends is the toponym that Wes Anderson has chosen to give to the fictional city where the action of his last film takes place, The French Dispatch, mostly shot in Angoulême.

The prefecture of Charente could have lived very badly to be renamed in this way. Quite the contrary, assures David Beauvallet, communications director of the Magelis image center, a must-see for the comics, animation and filming sectors. “The name designates a fictitious town, the filming of which was carried out in Angoulême, it should not be seen more than that”, he explains. Pascal Lefort, Angoumoisin for 14 years, landed a role of figuration in the feature film. A film buff, he even created an application that lists filming locations and sets in the city. Passionate about Wes Anderson and his world, he sees in the name of Ennui-sur-Blasé a touch of humor from the director: “I know he likes to change names. Of course, it’s not very flattering, but it gives a funny effect to the ears of Anglo-Saxon spectators. “

To see also – Discover the trailer for the film “The French Dispatch”

Hhistory of osmosis

The city, its inhabitants and its institutions do not hide their pride in having hosted, for five to six months, the director and his teams. “Wes Anderson chose Angoulême for its topography, its alleys, its neighborhoods, its charm of a town in the south-west”, reports Gérard Lefèvre, deputy mayor for Culture. Another strong argument for the most dandy of filmmakers, the special, warm light that envelops Angoulême, linked to Charente stone and its reflective properties.

“We have seen the work of cinema live, in the process of being built, we have seen how a film is made”, explains the deputy mayor for culture of Angoulême. Copyright The Walt Disney Company

“This is not the first time that a team has moved to the city, other productions have already been hosted, adds David Beauvallet. It could have been cinema, or television. We have professional tools, production aids, a large studio on the outskirts of town. ” This is what attracted, among others, the American director.

Accompanied by his team, he put down his suitcases in the city, and his gaze on the streets, buildings, storefronts. “We saw it all over town”remembers Gérard Lefèvre. To stick to its style and transform the place, often huge sets have been installed everywhere. Sometimes in the greatest secrecy. “One evening, on my way home, I was surprised to discover that the space in front of my building had been transformed into a military clothing store”, laughs the cultural assistant. Of course, Wes Anderson knew how to maintain the mystery. But the few times he was seen was an event: “We saw the work of cinema live, in the process of being built, we saw how a film is made.”

Throughout the shooting, a special relationship was woven between the director and Angoulême. “He really immersed himself in the city, to the point of coming back for the preview, the world premiere [hors festival de Cannes], a certain attachment has been created ”, notes David Beauvallet. “We lived an osmosis between Wes Anderson, the city and its inhabitants, and the film”, assures Gérard Lefèvre. The filmmaker pays homage to the city and its know-how, such as comics and animation. Both methods are used for short sequences at the end of the film.

In fact, throughout the feature film, Ennui-sur-Blasé (and Angoulême) are at the heart of the action. This is where all the plots take place, the focal point of all the storytelling. “The city has almost become a character, an actor in its own right”, rejoices David Beauvallet. It may be Boredom and Blasé, but that’s where it all happens, as Pascal Lefort reminds us: “The boredom doesn’t even show up in the film, since all the action takes place there. “

A heritage that the city, on the spot, wants to keep track of. On October 17, she opened the exhibition “The French Dispatch, Behind the Scenes”, in the presence of Wes Anderson himself, at Chais Magelis. Photos, carefully preserved installations and artists’ drawings retrace the director’s passage and impact on the territory. “This film is also an example of the art that transforms the eye we bring to familiar places, recounts Gérard Lefèvre. Anderson shares and offers us another perspective on Angoulême. ” Another look and a new way of showcasing the city.

Because everyone assures us: you never get bored in Angoulême! “When you love culture, there is always something to do, the comic strip festival, the francophone film festival, the ramparts circuit, Gérard Lefèvre list. It is a flexible, restless, moving city that has creation in its DNA, and which is never asleep. ” And of which he is never jaded.

The actors of “The French Dispatch” under the ramparts of Angoulême. Copyright The Walt Disney Company

Cinema, theater, music … The student journalists ofIPJ, the Practical Institute of Journalism of the University of Paris Dauphine , offer their perspective on cultural news. IPJ Dauphine

Practical Institute of Journalism IPJ Dauphine


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