By director Benoît Jacquot
The Prey and the Shadow
A great writer tells how he was once following an unknown woman through the streets of Paris, when she entered a cinema, and he went in behind her. She sat down alone in the darkness, in front of the lit up screen, he sat behind her, watching her. But soon, the film being shown captivated him to such an extent that he forgot about the woman he had been following and stayed to watch it, again and again, until the last screening of the day. He had let go of his prey for the shadow. When I think about film in general, I think of this story in particular, and that I make a film hoping that nothing else will count for the person watching it in the dark, affected by its light. And above all, or deep down, I make films in order to follow women, actresses, shot by shot instead of street by street. The prey and the shadow which do not exclude one another. Therefore the novel, then the screenplay "Farewell, My Queen" represented, for me, a proposal to follow a young woman, over a short period of time, without losing sight of her, a woman whose job caused her to move all around a large, enclosed space. The period would be the first days of an event which was to upset the Western world—the French Revolution. The place, the Chateau of Versailles, like an enormous hive stricken with panic, in the middle of which stands the queen—Marie Antoinette. And we follow this young woman, Sidonie, who comes and goes throughout the palace following the contradictory orders or enigmatic silences of her distraught sovereign. So I searched for the faces and bodies of these characters in order to turn them into people, with real faces and real voices, and when I found them, the film began to exist, and I made it, and there it is….