Luc Besson’s Live Action-CG movie, Arthur and Minimoys premieres at HKFF

– Anil Wanvari

Luc Besson the highly acclaimed screenwriter, producer, and director of such movies as The Fifth Element, The Messenger: Joan of Arc, Leon, and La Femme Nikita and several other films held the premiere of his film, Arthur and Minimoys at the Hong Kong Film Festival yesterday. The film which is a combination of live action and CG ended to thunderous applause from the extremely well heeled audience consisting of Asian actors, directors, distributors and producers.

Based on a story written by a designer Patrice Garcia and further developed by his wife and Besson himself, the film tells the tale of a 10 year old boy Arthur who has to save his home and his grandparents from an evil land grabber, and also rescue tiny creatures called minimoys who live in his garden from the evil and power hungry Malthazar.

The film begins with Arthur’s long lost grandfather narrating the tale of his experiences in Africa, and then moves onto his grandmother further telling her grandson the stories her husband had left behind. Arthur is a 10 year old whose parents have left him to be brought up by his grandmother. And then in comes the evil land grabber who tries to evict the duo. And his grandmother talks to him about a treasure that were hidden somewhere on the land.

Arthur manages to find some secret messages his grandfather left behind before he disappeared and then finds himself transformed into a minimoy himself. That’s where the live action ends and the CG begins. He has to find a way of preventing Malthazar flooding Minimoy kingdom along with the king’s daughter Selena and her brother.

Does he succeed in saving them? Does he manage to find the treasure? Does he manage to rescue his grandfather? These are questions Besson answers extremely well through the movie, a masterpiece of CG animation, which should get even Disney and Dreamworks rubbing their eyes in disbelief.

Besson speaking to said that it took him five years to get the movie to screen. “Patrice Garcia came to me with an idea of Arthur on a leaf. He wanted to make a short film, I convinced him to go on with a larger film,” said Besson. “Then his wife Selena also pitched in and hence we share the credit on story but Patrice and I share the credit for the screenplay.”

Besson adds the animation was done in Paris by BUF studios run by Pierre Buffin. “350 artists in Paris worked on this for around five years. We were working even as the riots were going on a year or so ago in Paris where we were. We were not disturbed at all,” says Besson. “We wanted to keep journalists and others away, and hence our location was great.”

Besson adds the CG pipeline was setup in BUF studios and that modeling of Minimoy kingdom consisting of almost 300 houses was also done. “These models were built. Some 8,000 pictures of all these were taken from every angle possible.” he says.

Besson who has also released a book by that name says he is not retiring. He is working on the sequel to Arthur and hopes to have two of them wrapped up by 2010. “If I feel dry, then I will retire. But I am going to be busy doing the sequels. I have made 10 films. I don’t want to repeat myself or repeat things for the audience. I respect myself and my audience too much. There is a great saying in France if you have nothing to say, then shut up.”

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