Jean-Claude discovers the Basilique de Saint-Denis in renovation, he wanders around the effigies for whom he has more and more empathie, he goes more and more into the archeological crypt of this sacred place, attracted by this dark hallway … An Ultimate safe place ?
I met Jean-Claude 5 years ago , with his shivering hands, his head in the clouds, his everlasting anorak, his huge glasses and often during the winter, his Ski cap, “he’s got swag” as we say. When Jean-Claude talks it requires a lot of concentration, his silence are strong beautiful. Jean-Claude Talks a lot with his hands, the words sometime don’t come out as fast as he wants. he then shouts them with energy because it took a lot of that to make those words come out. Those words are there, he knows them, but he cant express them, so pleads us to say the words for him, sometimes He gets pissed against himself. He raises his voice and try to make us understand with his hands. Thats the type of conversation we can have with Jean-Claude. All the challenge is to help him discreetly during the conversation, too suggest words, to bounce back with short questions and to let him express himself freely. Its not easy to whisper in the Crypt of the great basilica of St Denis… And yet when we offered me this crypte for one the ten movie of “La visite” collection, I immediately thought of Jean-Claude.
This was for me the occasion for me to re-have a conversation I had with Jean-Claude 5 years ago for a web project. For witch I thought he was amazing in his performance. That 55 years old man who’s disability has yet to be diagnosed, who express himself with so little words, without any verbs in his sentences. Always says the right thing when he talks about his disability, love, death… During the shooting I understood that having a mental disability and being able to express yourself is very complicated. “Me…Hard…Mom…Dead…Very scared…Very…Scared” . When he said that to me I was shocked and still am.”I’m hard with my mom because I’m scared that she dies.” the self-examination that this phrase caused in my mind is still very powerful to me.
Jean-Claude was inspired and inspiring on theme of death. And so I offered to him to discover for the first time the land of the dead, the cemetery of powerful people, kings, queens, princes at the Basilica of Saint-Denis.
Since Jean-Claude is passionated about architecture. He spends his days observing the great construction terrains of the capitol. He knows everything off the center of Beaubourg, the opera of Bastille, the construction of the Défense and most recently the Vuitton fondation. In short his passionated about “modern” architecture. It’s when he discovered for the first time the Basilica of st-Denis ,that he showed a aesthete look on the construction of this old architectural masterpiece. He noticed “Construction…Basilica…Complicated”.
Jean-Claude gives the best of himself when we let him loose, so thats what I did when we were shooting. At one moment he talked about his belief in god with great decency, and me, who doesn’t believe in anything. I was moved by the respect he had on non-believer
I Had a very long interview that I decided not to put in the final Cut, Where he talked about different things like Love for exemple and Isabelle, The huge love he has for her and every time he starts to talk about it he gat’s upset. Jean-Claude lives alone in an apartment and he so wishes to share his life with Isabelle. Jean-Claude is a man in love but also a man resigned, the step family decided against his union with Isabelle. Him who dreamed of a beautiful church wedding… The basilica of St-Denis brought back all those forgotten things he started to dream but then got angry. Anger, Yes Anger because his entire life was decided by other people , like for instance when he was interned in a psychological institue despite the fact that he had nothing to do there. All those years spent behind bars still haunts him. “Horrible…Horrible…Needle…Attached”
We follow his incertain wandering. He stays strong in front of details on the preparation of corpses before they are put in their tombs . As he walking next to them i asked myself what he was thinking about, in the middle of all these statues, these tombs of great powerful man and woman; Him the fragile man who never had the power to decide his own life.”