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An army of film students were needed to explain Valerian's opening scene

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Luc Besson

When you're making a film, it can occasionally be difficult to properly convey exactly what you want in a scene, particularly if the action and visuals are incredibly complex. This is typically where previs and story-boards come in handy, but in the case of Luc Besson and the opening sequence of VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS, the director told Entertainment Weekly that he decided to make use of an army of film students to make sure that everyone was on the same page.

VALERIAN opens with an eighteen-minute action sequence which takes place in two parallel dimensions at once, one of which is a desert world and the other a vast supermall with thousands of shops stretching into the sky and 500 floors below the surface. All of this dimension hopping takes place while Valerian is being chased by the minions of a three-nosed Jabba-type beast named Igon Siruss (voiced by John Goodman). Oh, and Valerian also gets his arm trapped between dimensions at some point. When Luc Besson first explained the complicated sequence to his crew, the director said that "they were smiling, but I could see on their faces that they didn’t understand a thing." So Luc Besson recruited the whole student body of his L’École de la Cité, the free film school which Besson opened in 2012, to shoot a demo of the entire sequence as part of their curriculum.

I brought the 120 students to the soundstage and we shot the entire scene. They were the actors, they were the cameramen, the lighting people, the grips. Costumes, accessories. We put the 600 shots on the wall and one by one we shot them. They did everything in three weeks, and then we edited and put in some temp music.

With a proud laugh, Besson added, "and then the crew understood the scene." That sounds like a perfect bonus feature for the VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS Blu-ray.

As a huge fan of THE FIFTH ELEMENT, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS is ever bit as colourful and crazy as it appears to be. Our own JimmyO recently caught VALERIAN and called it "a thing of beauty... incredible world building and star making work from [Cara] Delevingne!" Here's hoping.

The official synopsis for VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS:

Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are special operatives for the government of the human territories charged with maintaining order throughout the universe. Valerian has more in mind than a professional relationship with his partner- blatantly chasing after her with propositions of romance. But his extensive history with women, and her traditional values, drive Laureline to continuously rebuff him.

Under directive from their Commander (Clive Owen), Valerian and Laureline embark on a mission to the breathtaking intergalactic city of Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis comprised of thousands of different species from all four corners of the universe. Alpha’s seventeen million inhabitants have converged over time- uniting their talents, technology and resources for the betterment of all. Unfortunately, not everyone on Alpha shares in these same objectives; in fact, unseen forces are at work, placing our race in great danger.

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS will hit theaters on July 21, 2017.

Source: EW

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