"I read it in 1985, I was 17 years old ..." François Ozon has not forgotten anything from La danse du coucou , a novel by Aidan Chambers, released in 1982, which tells the story of an idyll adolescent girl in Normandy. Almost ... forty years later, the filmmaker signs Summer 85 , an adaptation of the book, in theaters on Tuesday. A (very) long-matured project, he explains to Pascale Clark's microphone, on Europe 1.
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"The representation of a different love"
"I fell in love with this story," recalls François Ozon, at the time "deeply touched". "I think the depictions of homosexual stories at the time were extremely negative, in pain, in guilt. The films I saw that talked about this was The Wounded Man by Patrice Chéreau, it was Quarrel , by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, or Cruising , by William Friedkin. Good films, but not really happy, and with the idea of transgression. "
In La danse du coucou , the one who was then only a high school student but already filming Super 8 films identified, on the contrary, "an extremely natural, solar love story". "There was something universal. That's what I liked, this representation of a different love."
"For 35 years, nobody took care of it"
At the time, François Ozon told himself that this book would make a "perfect American Teen movie ". "I almost wanted to be the spectator, I expected a director to take hold of this story and do it, especially an American filmmaker. (...) I really liked Stand by me by Rob Reiner or La folle jour by Feris Bueller , by John Hughes. "
But "for 35 years, nobody took care of it," continues the director. "When I spoke with the author of the book, who is 85 years old today, he told me, nevertheless, that three filmmakers were interested in it before me: a French, an Italian and a Danish. Each time, they had not found the financial means to go through with their adaptation. "
A film made with "distance" and "maturity"
Why did the filmmaker decide to get started? "I thought about it regularly and said to myself: I will have to do it one day," he explains. "But I think that films are made when they have to be made. The desire was not strong enough, he returned after Grâce à Dieu ( his last film released in 2019, on a case of pedophilia in the Lyonnaise Church, editor's note) , which was quite trying to come out, even if it was successful and it made the lines move. I wanted to go back to something lighter, softer, more solar. "
"I came back to this book in my library, I reread it and I remembered that I still loved it as much," smiles François Ozon, who finally congratulates himself on having waited so long. "I saw it differently, with more distance, of maturity. I would have done it very differently at the time, the film might have been less sweet, less tender, less nostalgic."