Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014: When Michel Gondry met Noam Chomsky

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014: When Michel Gondry met Noam Chomsky

The distinctive filmmaker's latest project is an animated conversation with the political theorist

Eddie Harrison speaks to the distinctive French filmmaker about his new documentary, an animated conversation with one of the world’s most famous philosophers

Arguably the best thing to have come from Versailles since the peace treaty, writer and director Michel Gondry returns to the fray with two new feature films. The idiosyncratic auteur behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind let his own high standards slip with generic comic book movie The Green Hornet, sending him back to France to get in touch with his cinematic mojo.

Coming to cinemas in August is Mood Indigo, a bittersweet romance starring Audrey Tatou and Romain Duris. It’s a love story with a tragic twist, and takes Gondry’s cinema to arguably its darkest place yet. But before that, Edinburgh film fans get a chance to see another Gondry accomplishment, a documentary screening as part of EIFF that features an improbable collaboration with political theorist Noam Chomsky. Using Gondry’s own hand-drawn animation, Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy? consists of an extensive interview with Chomsky, covering everything from linguistic theory to the academic’s own family and personal life.

‘Sure, I was nervous about making a film with Chomsky. Who wouldn’t be? He’s probably the smartest guy on the planet. So making conversation was a little intimidating, even though I’d met him six or seven times before,’ says Gondry. ‘I’ve always had a strong interest in science, but this is a man whose knowledge of all aspects of political and social theory is very deep. We spoke for about three hours, and then I’d go back to my apartment and create drawings to illustrate what he said.’

Meanwhile in Paris, a revitalised Gondry is already preparing the look of his next feature. ‘That’s what I’m doing today. I’m painting things created by the characters, two French teenagers who go on a long road trip together.’

Mood Indigo is on general release from Fri 1 Aug. Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? is screening at Edinburgh International Film Festival, Filmhouse, Edinburgh Fri 20 & Odeon Lothian Road, Fri 27 Jun.

Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? Official Trailer (HD) Documentary, Michel Gondry

Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?

  • 4 stars
  • 2014
  • France
  • 1h 29min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Michel Gondry
  • Written by: Michel Gondry
  • Cast: Noam Chomsky, Michel Gondry

An inventive new way of probing perennial questions about language and the mind. This new work by the endlessly exploratory Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) is an inspired, hand-drawn animation set to a series of conversations between Gondry and philosopher/linguist Noam Chomsky. As Chomsky patiently…