Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Interview with Catherine Breillat: Dir. Sleeping Beauty (La Belle Endormie)

  What would you consider to be the main theme of the film, and what meaning does this hold for you as the director and the audience?
CB As a child, it was wonderful to challenge the world through the fairytales I read, I would always consider myself as a character of the tale, I would imagine we can ourselves overcome obstacles like a knight, the Sir Vladimir of Princess Anastasia’s fantasies. Like in dreams, if we believed that our fears were not real we can overcome them, as in a nightmare we can escape by waking up. Because the Sleeping Beauty cannot wake up, she must travel from nightmare to nightmare as she frees herself from each one, and eventually she dies, which in a dream will cause the dreamer to wake up.
Through her dreams, Anastasia learns about the world and gains the experience she will need to tackle adulthood when she awakes. However, when she does wake she is faced with a world of feelings she is unfamiliar with. Her Prince is not the Prince Charming she has dreamed of and knows, and being from the modern age he is not so charming. This makes the young romance more exciting. Although the Sleeping Beauty does not know her prince, she is more capable of dealing with modern life, but both of the lovers are still incredibly vulnerable, a vulnerability accompanied by strength.
I myself am entering old age, and am the same person as when I was a little girl- when I was twenty, the idea of ‘me’ as thirty, as fourty, as fifty… it was impossible. I did not want to change, I still do not want to change. I am like an older Sleeping Beauty- still the same little girl. The Sleeping Beauty is still the little girl who fell asleep so long ago, although she is not aware of this: as the fairy says at the beginning of the film, childhood is endless.
  The Sleeping Beauty, upon waking, experiences a coming-of-age of sorts, however she is already a woman, having aged during her enchanted sleep. Was there a reason behind omitting her development?
CB Unlike the original Perrault fairy tale, I changed the age of the Sleeping Beauty when she falls asleep from sixteen to just six, as much of my earlier work confronts coming-of-age and puberty, and I wanted to examine life on either side of this rather than the process of maturing itself, so the film focuses on childhood and adulthood.
  The Princess we see at the end of the film is very different to the young girl at the start, as she adapts to the modern world and learns to cope there by herself. Can this be seen in a way as a rebirth for the princess, and to you what does her own child represent?
CB The princess is still virginal despite her initiation as she enters a new life, and as a result she is weaker than the child who roamed dreamscapes as she is entering into a strange and different, but very real world, the dangers of which are new and more subtle.
The rebirth she has is into a life as beautiful as the one she left behind in her dreams, but it is a darker beauty and is far more complicated.
She has the same love for her Prince as before, but now it is after, so it is a new manifestation of love, just as she is not familiar with her prince, but all the same he is her Prince Charming. She has found a balance in her new life.
The princess’s child must embody a different kind of knight to ‘Sir Vladimir’, and must lead life in a different way, however he is the same. 

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