Elle Magazine - September 1995

English Translation provided by Meredith Gibson

Comments in [ ]'s are my remarks.

{ }'s denote that I wasn't so sure about the meaning of a particular phrase,
but tried my best to infer the meaning.

*'s indicate that a short meaningless note directly follows, explaining or
clarifying something or other.

Juliette Binoche & Olivier Martinez:
The coronation (or consecration) of a new couple.

"The Horseman on the Roof"(adapted from Jean Giono's novel) is the event of the season*. An epic, directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, full of panache,
tragedy, and love.

* "la rentrée" doesn't really mean season, but I don't know that there's an
equivalent here in the US.... it's that time of year in France (September)
after summer vacation when students go back to school and many important social and political functions "start up" again after the long vacation. It is also an important time as far as movies are concerned, perhaps as summer is the time when many of the "big" movies come out here in America.....

By Jean-Dominique Bauby

A very secretive actress and a practically unknown actor. They're already on all the movie posters. Soon they'll be in theaters everywhere. "The Horseman on the Roof" (coming out September 20, as indicated at the bottom of the article), THE big French film of 1995, is an amalgam/potpourri of director Rappeneau, years of writing, months of shooting, [...] lots of money, and a legendary book by Jean Giono that resisted being adapted to film for 40 years. And now, "The Horseman on the Roof" is all about Juliette Binoche and Olivier Martinez. Of course, everything was sized up, calculated, and adjusted by the meticulous Rappeneau [...] But all of that is in the past, now, and the moment of truth has come for the two young actors, who have been entrusted with the most difficult of tasks: making our hearts go pitter-patter.

Olivier? An eagle. But an eagle who hasn't yet determined the exact strength of his beak, of his claws. You never know if he's going to caress you or tear you apart. He caresses Juliette with his eyes, his fingertips, every phrase he utters. And she bursts out laughing, a woman who possesses a simple beauty but also a complex mind whose inner workings she's remiss to reveal.

"I'm not interesting," she insists continuously (or so it seems), "It's all
up there on the big screen". We'll give her the benefit of the doubt. In any
case, the film has been made, the costumes have been put away, {the
spotlights have all been turned off}, but Angelo the hussar and Pauline de
Theus haven't stopped loving each other; even the least attentive (reader)
among us would be able to see it. You can see it in their smallest gestures,
when they arrive, helmet in hand, just having gotten off of the motorcycle
on which they whizzed across Paris, in the month of August. But to get them to talk about their romance is no easy task.

[Here, examples are given of them being evasive:]

[Interviewer] - You must be hounded by the paparazzi everywhere you go.

[Article doesn't indicate which of the two is talking] - No; why would they

- When two people play a couple like that in a movie, there must be a bond
that's established at some point....

- Not really... why would you say that?

- And in your own life, would you two be capable of passionate feelings
toward one another?

- Cinema is one thing. Life is another. [Literally, "Movies are movies. Life
is life".]

In short, Juliette and Olivier aren't the kind of stars that call up
newspapers before going to the beach (yes, there really are people who do
this!) , {and so the subject was handled delicately}. So I'll only say this
on the matter, dear Olivier and Juliette: you make a good couple*.

* More literally, "I'll allow myself a single remark, dear Olivier and

Elle Magazine: The last day of shooting must be sad.

Juliette: On good shoots*, there's no sadness.

* or "happy movie sets"

Elle: What makes a movie set "happy"?

J.B: It's indescribable. Everyone involved feels that they're on the same
wavelength, on the right path, that there's a good tension, energy. Not the
kind of nervous tension that puts everyone on edge, but a harmony that
ensures that everything's going to turn out right and everyone's going to
arrive at the same place in the end, safe and sound. Jean-Paul Rappeneau
knows what he wants. That's reassuring, even if it means that the actors
sometimes feel like {they have less of a role, a say in things or are
incidental to the movie}.

Olivier Martinez: Sometimes we wanted to stray from the script [literally,
the storyboard], but when you're on a long shoot, with scenes with crowds
and animals, it's crucial to have a director who knows exactly what he's

Elle: After spending months portraying these characters, you don't find
yourself wanting a life full of panache and excitement?

Olivier: I wouldn't want to be a hussar. I never believed myself to be
Angelo, not even when shooting was at its most intense*. He's too proud:
there's cruelty and pretension in him, not just panache.

* Or, "when we were at the height of shooting/when we were in the thick of

J.B: As an actor, the goal is to understand, not become, the character. I
could never be Pauline, because she doesn't exist outside of Jean Giono's
imagination and Rappeneau's adaptation. What's interesting is finding your
own unique way of constructing this imaginary character.

O.M: And anyway, what would you do, as a hussar? Prove your courage? The only proof is in your actions*. No one really knows what he'd do in a given situation until it happens! Would I have reacted like Angelo who cared for the sick, in spite of the epidemic that was raging around him? I have my own opinion on that [literally, I have the answer inside of me] but I'll never
really know, it will remain inside of me until the day I'm able to put it to
the test, to prove it. It's our actions that define us [or "it's in the
doing that we find out who we really are] .

* More literally, your actions must be tested.

J.B: Not necessarily. The little everyday trials and tribulations can reveal
your character, as well. You can find out who's who through the little
things that happen every day. I don't remember who it was that said that
betrayal in times of peace is even worse than betrayal in times of war...

O.M: There's also that idea that war makes people ten times more cowardly or brave. I'm not really all that anxious to find out if it's true*. Running
off fighting dragons is not my thing. If it can be avoided....

* More literally, "I'm not all that anxious to be in a situation that would
allow me to verify it".

Elle: Sickness and death are two very real characters in the film. Have you
had to face these kinds of ordeals in your own lives?

J.B: I've lost people close to me. It's rather strange: first there's pain
and sadness, and then comes the moment when you accept that they're gone. You almost feel a sort of joy. Because the friend has been saved from his suffering, because death is a part of life.

O.M: I came rather close to dying. A serious motorcycle accident. It made me less flippant about danger! It was such a pleasure* to walk again after a
long period of immobilization. It's an extraordinary joy. And it puts
everything into perspective: money, fame... I’m no longer afraid of dying,
I'm afraid of suffering.

*More literally, “I tasted/enjoyed the pleasure of walking again...”

Elle: The film's protagonists have to overcome every sort of obstacle....

J.B: Angelo and Pauline fight fear with (their) love. They create a
force/an energy around them that protects them from everything. And yet,
their love only expresses itself in subtle ways. They're devoted to one
another, but nothing really happens between them. That's their strength, and the power of the story.

Elle: Did you enjoy being in costume?

O.M: Yes, I liked it very much. Usually, I show up in my boots and jeans,
and we shoot; having to dress in costume changed me!

J.B: It wasn't so fun for me! Having to wear a corset in scorching heat
wears you out quickly! What I liked was that I wore pants under the dress,
for the (horseback) riding scenes. Hidden strength* is a part of Pauline's
personality. I rather like that.

*Or masculinity, virility

Elle: Would you say you’re like her?

J.B: Maybe. I don't know that I'm as indomitable as her (laughs). (I'm) more

Elle: Did the dialogue pose any problems for you?

O.M: It's true that it wasn't the way most of us speak in our daily lives,
but I adapted easily. The real challenge is to make the audience forget that
it's dialogue. Above all, you mustn't overdo it!

J.B: Yes, the less one does, the better....

O.M: But then, it wasn't Chinese, either! I managed to understand what I was saying, anyway (laughs)! But having to say "go screw/f*** your mother"
would probably be a difficult thing for someone who's not a part of that
universe, as well.

Elle: Would you want to do another film together?

O.M: (Spontaneously) Yes...

J.B: (Pretending to hesitate) Yes.

Elle: You both became skilled (horseback) riders...

O.M: I knew how to ride a little, but I had to learn to ride like a hussar.
I made a lot of progress.

J.B: It was new for me, and I was very scared. But I had a horse that went
faster than Olivier's and that made him furious because I kept passing him.
{Quite a few of us found it funny/I wasn't the only one who found it funny}.

O.M: There was nothing funny about it! We had to start the whole scene over. A good rider also knows how to control his horse!

J.B: If you think it was easy to control them, when they were running at
breakneck speed... But look at him... it still makes him angry, even now!