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‘Valerian’: French futuristic comics series now a movie

lifestyle / Arts and Books
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‘Valerian’: French futuristic comics series now a movie

Scenes from the film based on “Valerian and Laureline,” published in 1967

As a young boy, French filmmaker Luc Besson was transfixed by a comic-book series called “Valerian and Laureline” first published in 1967, written by French author Pierre Christin and boldly illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières.

“It was the 1970s,” Besson said. “It was not about the superhero with the cape. This was much more light and free and enjoyable because Laureline and Valerian were like two normal cops today—except it’s the 28th century, and everything is weird and amazing.”

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Many decades later, Besson would come to adapt the popular comic-book series into a film.

Set in the futuristic year of 2740, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” follows Maj. Valerian (Dane DeHaan), a roguish government operative with a sixth sense for tactics. Accompanying him on his journey through space is his intrepid partner, Sgt. Laureline (Cara Delevingne), whose innate intelligence is matched only by her steely determination, fierce independence and impressive display of strength.

Under assignment from the minister of defense, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha—an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over the centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with one another.

Iconic

First published by Dargaud, the comic-book series inspired Besson not only to imagine his seminal “The Fifth Element,” but has also influenced other filmmakers to create some of the most iconic science-fiction movies of the last half-century.

Constrained by the relatively primitive visual effects technology available in the 1990s, Besson knew it would be some time before he was able to create the wondrous “Valerian and Laureline” universe he knew the source material deserved.

“When I went back to read the comic books again,” Besson said, “I decided it was impossible to make the films. The technology at the time was not good enough to recreate all these worlds and aliens.”

It would take a seismic jolt and a huge evolutionary leap forward in visual effects to enable the filmmaker to bring “Valerian and Laureline” to life.

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After James Cameron invited Besson to the set of his space epic “Avatar,” the French director finally made up his mind to do his dream project.

“When ‘Avatar’ arrived, it made everything seem possible,” Besson said.

“I remember thinking, ‘One day I will come back to sci-fi with these new tools, where the only limit is your imagination. That’s when I decided to make Valerian,’” he added. —CONTRIBUTED

“Valerian” is now showing nationwide.

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TAGS: Cara Delevingne, dane dehaan, french comic book, jean-claude mezieres, Luc Besson, movie adaptation, pierre christin, valerian and the city of a thousand planets
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