Besson: Use brains to save ourselves
DAYS before the release of what could be the biggest hit of his career, Luc Besson is predicting the end of humanity.
"Life on the surface of the earth has disappeared seven times in the history of the earth," he told TheWrap. "Then life is back again and this starts for a couple of million years. It's not like it can't happen or it won't happen. It's happened before."
To what do we owe our own destruction? Greed, an unexpected gripe considering its source - the most prominent film-maker in France, co-founder of a movie studio and owner of a countryside mansion.
Besson has written and produced dozens of movies, launching the careers of Natalie Portman (Leon: The Professional) and Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element).
Lucy, which stars Scarlett Johansson, debuted at the top of the North American box office this week, raking in US$43.9 million (S$55 million).
The central conceit of the film is that a drug permits humans to access more than 10 per cent of their brain, enabling Johansson's character Lucy to control everything around her - metal, radio signals, humans and so forth. Her power grows as she accesses more of her brain.
You write and produce several movies each year. How do you pick which ones you want to direct?
I love to write. I can't stop myself. I started at 16 years old, writing The Fifth Element. I wake up very early, like 4am or 5am, and I'm writing all the time.
I can't make five to six films per year, but I can write five to six films per year. I give it to friends of mine, people who are newcomers that are good.
If there's a film where I feel like I can make the difference... Lucy was one of them. I deeply wanted to do this one; I was too scared that they'd miss it.
What about it spoke to you?
I'm fascinated by the brain and human capacity. It's exciting to make a thriller with philosophical messages.
Also, for the range of roles. Scarlett Johansson from New York. Morgan Freeman, he's (a god). Min Sik Choi, probably the best actor in Asia. Amr Waked, the guy who plays the cop, from Egypt. It's exciting to have all these different people coming.
There is a philosophical bent to the action. What were you trying to convey?
Usually in films the villain tries to get the power. He wants revenge - he wants to kill, steal and conquer. It's all about the power, and the good guy tries to stop him or her. Here, there's this girl who gets the ultimate power - you can't have more power than she does.
The first thing she says is: "I don't know what to do with it." The professor tells her to pass it on. There are lots of people who are very powerful around the world, and most of them are not using their power very carefully. They should just pass it on.
Lucy's purpose seems to be the attainment and perpetuation of knowledge.
There are so many things we don't know; on the scale of the universe, we are babies. I just hope that we access 12 per cent to 15 per cent very quickly before we destroy everything.
Life on the surface of the earth has disappeared seven times in the history of the earth. Then life is back again and this starts for a couple of million years. It's already seven times. It's not like it can't happen or it won't happen. It's happened before.
You think we're headed in that direction?
Because today the biggest "god" around the world is money. That's the worst "god" we can have.