Two Brothers
Two Brothers

On directing actors.

You’re told in film school that in order to direct an actor properly, more important than directing is the ability to write a scene in which the actor will feel comfortable, with dialogue which makes sense. Then put this actor in the right set, with the right clothes, with the right partner–and pick the right actors. (laughs) If all those elements have been carefully prepared, you have nothing to do but enjoy.

On directing animals.

It’s just a matter of thinking: how do I get my actor to spontaneously reproduce what he should do if he had read the script? It’s the same thing: direct them the same way and you’ll get better results. In order to get it right, put your actors, whether they’re two-legged or four-legged, in a situation that is as close as you can make it to the scene as written.

On creating “believable fiction.”

It’s interesting how audiences know very little about most things, yet they understand if it’s true or fake. (laughs) And, when telling them an invented story, the moviemaker must consider that their pleasure is to believe that it’s true. Therefore, I take great care to make every single element so authentic that they don’t question the fiction.

Allow for discovery.

You have to recreate things in such a way that you place your audience in a world that they discover–that is different from theirs, but that they can understand. Then there is the added pleasure of traveling to a place and time that you can’t get to simply by buying an airplane ticket. It’s part of the trip; it’s part of the specificity.

Filmography for Jean-Jacques Annaud

Two Brothers (2004)
Enemy at the Gates (2001)
Seven Years in Tibet (1997)
Wings of Courage (1995)
The Lover (1992)
The Bear (1989)
The Name of the Rose (1986)
Quest for Fire (1981)
Hothead (1979)
Black and White in Color (1977)