The 62nd Cannes Festival draws to a close today with the Out-of-Competition presentation of Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky by Jan Kounen. Four years after unveiling his documentary Darshan – The Embrace on the Croisette, the French director reintroduces us to two creative spirits emblematic of the 20th century: fashion designer Coco Chanel and composer Igor Stravinsky. Their panoramic and impassioned love affair is a blend of legend and intimacy.
Kounen claims that he is better behaved now, and more reserved than in his previous features. Commenting on the performance of his leading lady and man, Anna Mouglalis and Mads Mikkelsen, he said, "Anna has been inhabited by Chanel for a long time. Mads created his version of Igor Stravinsky. I was there to help and guide them but above all it is their creation. We had little time for preparation, knowing that Mads had to learn how to play the piano and speak Russian. We didn’t rehearse, but the three of us spent three days exploring each scene, the motivations, the personalities, the desires and the frustrations of the characters. What was said, but also what they thought, how they felt. With this framework we went straight on set with plenty of room for freedom and creativity."
Audiences should be aware that Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky opens with a real piece of bravura: the historical premiere of Rite of Spring at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in 1913. Jan Kounen admits it's the most difficult scene he has ever shot. "We had more than 1000 extras, 25 dancers, 70 musicians and 4 choreographic tableaux," he explained. "It was a monumental jigsaw puzzle. It took us three weeks to prepare this scene. I shot the dancers rehearsals on video. With Anny Danché, the editor, we made an animatic using other films, filmed rehearsals and videos of the “The Rite” concerts, to help with the timing and the drama. Finally I made a complete storyboard of the sequence. We then took the pieces of the jigsaw apart to shoot by groups of shots."
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