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Terry Jones : un Python au salon du livre !

Par Aléthia, le mardi 21 juillet 2009 à 15:10:51

Interview en anglais

You’re an author, a director, a Python, a screen-writer and an historian among other activities. If you should introduce yourself, which of those activities would you put forward ? And why?
I never know. I think I’d put writer down because it’s the easiest. Nobody would ask you any questions. And I never really know what to say cause I don’t particularly think of myself as anything in particular. I’m just lucky I have had the chance to do all these different things.
You’ve been invited to the Salon du Livre by Bragelonne to promote the release of Erik le Viking. How do you feel about this French release and also about the reaction of your French fans?
Well I had no idea ! I have been longing for a French publication of one of my children’s books, because it’s the one language I could read. And I thought it might improve my French if they translated something, so I could read it. But this is the first time anybody has published one of my children’s books in French so I don’t know. I have no idea. I’m looking forward to find the answer.
Erik Le Viking was published in 1983 with illustrations by Michael Foreman. In France, Boulet made the illustrations. What do you think of his work? Does it bring something new to the story?
Yeah I think it does ! Boulet’s stuff has got more character in it than Michael’s but he shouldn’t had put the horns on the Vikings’ helmets. They are totally non historical! But I love the dog soldiers for example and I really like the stuff, I really like it.
You wrote Erik le Viking and directed Monty Python’s Holy Grail but would you consider yourself as a Fantasy fan? Do you read Fantasy books and if so, who are your favourite authors and which books would you recommend?
I suppose I am not a Fantasy fan now, but it was Fantasy that got me into reading books. Until I was about 12 the only books I would read were the Rupert Annuals. I don’t know if you know them in France but in England they are quite famous. And then I was in a bookshop and I picked up the Illustrated man by Ray Bradbury and I read the start or something and that got me. I bought the book and I read Ray Bradbury and I thought it was fantastic. So that was really Ray Bradbury who turned me into a Science Fiction fan. I never read books about the present days or set in the present day. I wasn’t really interested. And I started reading Fantasy and then I found reading history. It was as if I wanted my reality but at one remove. History and Fantasy are the same in a way, as it is reality but at one remove from what is going on now. And I kind of found that interesting. I preferred it.
You are a renown author of children’s literature, you won the Children's Book Award in 1984 but many of your books are still unpublished in France. Can we hope for a release soon ? Maybe with your French editor, Bragelonne?
Well I hope ! So I suppose if they sell enough copies of Erik the Viking… I really much like that, having my books in French because as I said, it is the one language I could read. I would like that. There’s no good having those translated in Japanese, in Thai and I don’t know… Hindi, when you can’t read anything !
In 1989, you adapted Erik the Viking. The film was inspired by your children’s book The Saga of Erik the Viking but the plot was completely different. Why did you decide to direct a completely new story instead of following the plot of the book?
Well there’s no plot in the book ! It’s just a lot of different stories. So, to make a film you have to have a story. I mean, a film is basically a short story and that’s why novels don’t easily fit in a film. They encompass too much I suppose. So you have to just sort of pick out a ninety minute story and there wasn’t one in Erik the Viking. So I made up a new one, but I used a few elements from the book for the film.
You played God for Albert Dupontel in Le Créateur and more recently you’ve been part of King Guillaume, directed by Pierre-François Martin-Laval. How did you happen to play in these movies ? Do you feel a bond with these two directors or do you like French humour in general?
How could you say no ! Playing God in Paris ! I knew Albert, Albert is a friend I couldn’t say no to him. Albert is wonderful. And then Pierre-François Martin-Laval. He was a friend of a friend or something. It was fun to do it although actually it was really hard work. You know the shots I had to do. I was supposed to be talking, I was a professor speaking with slides going on, and I had like two pages of dialogue or something like that. And when we started doing it, I was talking to the slides, putting them up. But the slides kept coming at the wrong time, so in the end, I had to do the slides There was a time lag of about 3 seconds, so I had to learn, with all the cameras there, when to do the slides in the text I was saying. So I was talking out of sync with the slides. It was unreal ! It took so much time to do it !
You were part of the Monty Pythons. You directed Life of Brian and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 2 movies among the funniest of all time and you could not have missed how iconic your work has become. How do you feel about all the fandom surrounding the Pythons?
I never really see much of it actually. In England, you don’t really get it. You feel it a bit when you are going to the US but not really in England. I mean, it may exist, there is a probably a fan base but … when you’re going to events such as this one, you sort of meet it a bit, you can meet it and it’s all right. I mean, it’s all right for me, because I’m not very recognisable. But it’s more difficult for someone like John Cleese because when he walks in the room he’s “John Cleese” you know. Actually he’s less recognisable now he had his hair replaced ! I’m joking !
In November 2008, the Monty Pythons opened their own channel on YouTube to fight piracy. It works so well that Monty Python’s DVDs climbed to No. 2 on Amazon’s Movies & TV bestsellers list, with increased sales of 23,000 percent. Were you surprised by the success of your channel.
Yes I am ! I was a bit against it really, because the whole idea of YouTube is that people put up whatever they want. I don’t really understand what it was about. But if it has done that, then it’s fine ! You said what? 23.000 ! I think that was just for a couple of days actually. I don’t think it lasted really.
You’ve directed 3 of the of the 4 films that have been banned in Ireland (Monty Python’s Holy Grail, Life of Brian, and The Meaning of Life.) . Is it for you a greater honour than the naming of an asteroid after you ?
Yeah ! That’s my main claim to fame actually ! That’s the thing I will be remembered for, the thing I should have written on my grave.
If I’m Right, Life of Brian was still banned in some theatres.
Yeah ! We’re actually going on the 28th of March, to Aberystwyth, a town in Wales. It had been banned in Aberystwyth. The mayor of Aberystwyth is currently Sue Jones-Davies who plays Judith in the film and she thought she wanted to show Life of Brian in Aberystwyth finally. So we’re going there for the first showing. I guess it’ll be the first time the current mayor of Aberystwyth will be seen naked on screen !
One last question, are you still absolutely sure that a witch is made of wood?
Yes, I think so ! I have no evidence to the contrary so you know, I think we should jut accept the evidence really ! That’s the only evidence we’ve got !
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