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Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, Oct 21st, 2014

We talk with Bertrand Bonello, director of the film Saint Laurent

St LaurentSaint Laurent is a bio pic on Yves St. Laurent that takes a glimpse into his life during his most successful years 1967 to 1976, during that time the famed fashion designer was at the peak of his career. This film explores the dark side of his obsessions and career that skyrocketed beyond his wildest dreams. The film is directed by Bertrand Bonello and stars Gaspard Ulliel as Yves Saint Laurent. We got a chance a to interview him when the film was first shown in New York at the New York Film Festival to a packed audience. We spoke to the director of the film Saint Laurent, Bertrand Bonello, who created a captivating story about the making of an icon and a testament to the power of enduring love. The film was first show in New York at the New York Film Festival to a packed audience. How did you approach covering his life? My first reaction was to make it a bio pic but I quickly changed my mind. I had no scripts no books to use but I knew I wanted to make the film as personal as possible. Then I was starting to think what is my point of view as the director? Sometimes that’s very hard when it’s a real person. I ultimately wanted to show the viewer what it cost St. Laurent to be St. Laurent! So I decided to start the movie when he is already famous. So you chose the most interesting years in history also? I wanted to follow the years 1967 to 1976. I wanted to follow 10 years when they were the craziest and the richest of times. You see him where he has everything. In terms of fashion you see that he has done everything he’s ever dreamed of. You see this period in Paris which really fascinated me. The world sees a huge revolution on the start of the 70’s and then again during the 80’s. I loved using the flash backs and flash forwards to show St Laurent when he was someone else. You cast the amazing Helmut Berger. Why? I used Helmut Berger who was the star of many Visconti films because I did not want to use make up or visual effects. Plus I thought Helmut looked a lot like Yves as he got older. Ironically enough, YSL is like a Visconti character! He had a love for beauty and a love for Proust. Tell me about the actor that plays YSL. Why him? Everyone told me to cast the actor that plays Yves because they said he had a very strong resemblance to him. I met with 20 actors and I purposely was NOT filming them as Yves, just the actor so you have to fall in love with the actor’s character. So with no access to any real archives, what happens then with a real person in recreating his work space? I recreated the character of YVL without any access to the estate. I got to see some archives of the dresses. We had to recreate a sewing workshop in his same style with twenty seamstresses recreating both collections making it livable, not from a museum. The last hour becomes slippery, you see the chronology of what happens to him and then we get inside his head. The mental aspect of it has much more in fact. I wanted to make the film so that it had an arch. Also the sound of the film was very important to me as well. I used an obituary from a newsroom to sum up a lot of his life. I used a lot of soul music and opera. The music all comes from inside the same space as the spectator and the characters they are all on the same level. But that music wasn’t enough and I composed more music myself. He was a very melancholic man You showed his personal life and business life. Why were they so intertwined? I also wanted to show the relationship he had with the man who he lived with for 50 years. There were beautiful moments and there were terrible moments. He was also his business partner. Like a monster with two heads he was the tough money guy, Yves was more the sensitive artist but they wanted to create something together. He has this obsessive side like most geniuses. What’s up with the dog? In the movie I wanted to show that he took the same dog over and over again. When one would die he’d get another of the same and this is done over and over. It says something about his obsession. The movie is not just about his inventions. I did a lot of research and I used some of it and then took some freedoms. What was the most groundbreaking thing he did for women through clothes? He created the concept of androgyny. He showed a women dressing more masculine. So I had recreated a scene showing that. What else added to the sensuality of your film? It’s so erotic in some spots. I wanted to show examples of how he transforms the woman but I also wanted to show the homosexuality and the drugs. Paradoxically, this film is very chaste with a lot of off screen atmosphere. I wrote scenes as if they were for the 70’s prior to aids when there was much more lightness and freedom.

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We talk with Bertrand Bonello, director of the film Saint Laurent