Luc Besson’s Film Students Sweded The ‘Valerian’ Opening Scene To Explain It To The Film’s Crew

Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets has some trippy scenes in it, but — based on critics’ reactions and Entertainment Weekly‘s description — the 18-minute opening sequence may be the most trippy of them all. Director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, The Professional) described the scene, which takes place in two parallel dimensions, to Entertainment Weekly:

[Besson] imagined a place called the Big Market, which looks like a desert until Valerian [Dane Dehaan] plugs into a machine and puts on tinted glasses that reveal a vast supermall with thousands of shops stretching into the sky and 500 floors below the surface. […] A chase ensues between the minions of a three-nosed Jabba-type beast named Igon Siruss (voiced by John Goodman) and Valerian, who has inadvertently trapped his arm between dimensions.

Besson had trouble explaining this complicated sequence to his crew (“I explained it to the crew for an hour. They were smiling, but I could see on their faces that they didn’t understand a thing.”), so he came up with a novel way of illuminating things. In 2012, Besson opened a free film academy (L’École de la Cité) in Paris, so he enlisted all 120 students to make a demo of the 18-minute scene based on 600 storyboards. Over the course of three weeks, the students filled every role — “They were the actors, they were the cameramen, the lighting people, the grips. Costumes, accessories.” — then edited it and added temporary music. Besson showed this sweded version to his crew, “And then [they] understood the scene,” he laughed.

We’re a little surprised the crew wasn’t already completely on board when Besson mentioned the three-nosed Jabba-esque character voiced by John Goodman. Oh man, he’ll show you the life of the mind.

(Via Entertainment Weekly)