PRESS CONFERENCE – Arnaud des Pallières: “I tried to come close to Kleist’s revolutionary, torn mind”

Arnaud des Pallières © FDC / FL
The director Arnaud des Pallières and the entire cast of Michael Kohlhaas, a feature film in Competition, attended a press conference. Chosen extracts.

Arnaud des Pallières, on the character of Michael Kohlhaas and Kleist’s novel:
I find it very difficult to judge this complex character. Mads’ intense, subtle interpretation leaves him as complex as in the book. I read this story when I was young, when I started my film studies. It dazzled me without me really understanding how complex and far-reaching it is. At the time, I didn’t feel mature enough to be able to make something out of it. It was time for me to do so.

Arnaud des Pallières, on the film setting:
I looked for something that resembled the story of the characters. What interested me in a natural setting was that it can vector a character’s feelings. I tried to come close to Kleist’s revolutionary, torn mind, and the landscape of the Vercors and Cevennes regions allowed me to do just that.

Arnaud des Pallières, and his adaptation of the novel:
I remembered that a man had abandoned the idea of taking up power through honesty and rigour. This deeply moved me at the time. I was also very affected by Kleist’s character but I did a lot of work on that as he nearly becomes insane in the book. I would not have been able to stage such a Kohlhaas as it wasn’t me.

Mads Mikkelsen on his preparation for his role:
I learnt to speak French which was not an easy thing to do, and to work with the other actors. The film ended up personally affecting us all after a certain time. I brought this character to life and I want to defend him. He is a radical man who believes in justice and wants to find his horses, but who loses everything in his quest.

Interview directed by BP