Marc Forster: “We wanted World War Z viewers to hang on to their armrests”

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World war z

The zombie movie starring Brad Pitt returns to C8.

In 2013, First had met director Marc Forster to talk about his adaptation of World war z, which we republish on the occasion of this program. Note that contrary to what was announced in 2019, this zombie movie will not have a sequel : David Fincher was interested in making it, but the project was abandoned by Paramount.

We will never see the “real” end of World War Z

World war z is truly an old-fashioned family blockbuster. Can we still do that today?

Max Brooks’ book has an atypical structure, with its mosaic of first-person accounts … To adapt it, we wrote a story in three acts with a strong main character, and an unfolding from A to Z linear. What I like about the end result is that it really is old school, it’s a great epic movie. It has become rather rare in Hollywood today.

What did you like about the story of WWZ ?

There is no better metaphor than the subject of World war z. Today the world is very unstable and scary. It was enough to tap into this fear to fuel the film.

WWZ is still part of a very specific genre.

Yes, but we had to get out of it. I went back to basics for inspiration and watched the two extremes: George Romero’s founding films (Night of the Living Dead) and the most recent like 28 days later by Danny Boyle. I had to create my own creatures.

How to be original in this area?

My main idea was to treat them in hordes. When I was little, the swarms of insects or the flight of hundreds of birds fascinated me. It can be a pretty scary sight. With World war z, I was able to translate that on the screen, like for example the scene of the “pyramid” where they go to attack the wall. Like a tsunami. Which still resonates with a very contemporary fear. Then, we worked on the stages of the infection: the epileptic seizure after the bite, then the movements of the head like attack dogs once infected. And the jaw snapping to finish … All these little details make people infected with WWZ have their specificities.

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The film tells of a worldwide epidemic. You were aiming for plausibility?

Overall I think the film is about the depletion of the world’s resources, how we step on top of each other to grab what remains to be grasped. There are more and more of us in an increasingly restricted space …

The last third contrasts with the rest of the film, and finds an atmosphere of camera …

We wanted a more intimate, tight end, like a haunted house movie. Most blockbusters end with a big explosion. We put it in the middle, with the scene of Jerusalem and that of the plane.

Even so, this is not a horror movie or a gore movie. It’s a disaster movie.

We focused on the notion of intensity, we wanted the spectators to hang on to their armrests. Even though there are strong scenes, we don’t see any blood or gory details. When we showed the movie to the MPAA (Editor’s note: the American censorship commission), we had to make some very minor adjustments. But I expected it. And then, there are no bad words or sex, so it suited them very well (laughs).

The film is also less pessimistic than you might think.

One must be optimistic. This is the only way to survive. Especially in Hollywood.

You have made a lot of different films: The Kites of Kabul, Quantum of Solace, Machine Gun Preacher... Why World war z ?

There is always one thing in common in my films: the human factor. The producers didn’t just want a big action movie. They wanted a human dimension, that the intimate side be treated as well as the epic side.

How did you meet Brad Pitt?

Brad Pitt has wanted to work with me for a long time. It was on the film project Dallas Buyers Club – which ultimately happened with Matthew McConaughey and Jean-Marc Vallée.

What is the difference between Brad the actor and Pitt the producer?

It’s easy. On the set, he’s the actor, and outside he’s the producer. As an actor he does not interfere with your work, after …

So he never disconnects.

No. He never sleeps (laughs). He even manages to save time for his family, I wonder how he does it.

Sylvestre Picard interview

Trailer of World war z by Marc Forster, with Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Matthew Fox and James Badge Dale:

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