Director’s Statement


I have always been fascinated by the faculty of certain
people to live in lies and denial: following a
comfortable/reassuring routine, looking for the advertising
happiness, and one day fi nding oneself in
the middle of emptiness, with the fear of life and
without the understanding of what is happening.
To understand would mean to accept: accepting to
recognize that we may have made a mistake, accepting
to take the risk to change, to go to the unknown.
This is often too hard: fear is there, each day,
like a loyal friend, to hold us and prevent us from
acting. Therefore many people resolve to a kind of
social schizophrenic behaviour that consists in alternating
between a type of auto suggested self-satisfaction
and the non-assumed desire to leave everything
and go, take a train for somewhere, a fl ight
for elsewhere. Those fantasies lead them nowhere
else than in the nothingness, a kind of space that
gives vertigo and moves them closer to death.
And what do people do when they have vertigo? They
move away from the void and take refuge in their cocoon:
their comfortable apartment with well defi ned
features and a “wonderful” partner. They convince
themselves that everything is fi ne, that they have
all they need to be happy. They conceive a child,
as a child brings meaning to life. And the lie can go
on, but wears them down a little bit more each day.

The Saviour is the story of a man who wants to escape
but whose lies can’t save him anymore: a man
who in a single day will be haunted by his inner anguishes,
extreme fears from which he will try to escape,
only to land in a harder reality: the emptiness.
To avoid sinking, this man will have to react, therefore
leave the control seat. This fi lm illustrates at
which point denial and control can drive a human
being to his own loss: in the best case, to a slow
and discrete social death, in the worse case, if the
dissonance is violent, to an implosion, madness.
The story of Paul, the story of Manuel, it’s the story
of my parents, of my grandparents, of my brother,
and more particularly the story of a friend whom I
recently lost. He was an « advisor » in the real estate
business. He had managed to convince himself that
he had fi nally arrived, which was true in a certain way:
his wife was pregnant and his offi ce was operating at
full capacity. But at the same time, he didn’t understand
his life anymore, asking himself what he was
doing with a wife who he had never loved, in a job
that he had never enjoyed. Paul’s wife is the wife of
this lost friend, a loving wife who held her man with
her love but who also dreamt secretly that he told her
the truth, as hard at it could be: that he did not love
her, that both of them lived lies. This story has left
its marks on me and I wanted to tell it, to transmit it,
as Manuel does in the fi lm. It’s a sad story, probably;
frequent, certainly, but it is defi nitely universal.

At best a trigger happens, a trigger that forces one
to open ones eyes and hear the truth. Then it becomes
possible to look at life with the innocence
and openness of a child and to regain access to the
pure sensations that life off ers us: the pain, but also
the beauty of life. The trigger, in the case of Paul,
is the old story of Manuel, a story that he off ers to
Paul for his birthday, a story with which Paul has
every chance to identify himself with, projecting his
own life onto the story. Despite its terrible consequences,
Manuel’s birthday gift is motivated out
of kindness, almost in a fatherly way. Through the
message of that Stranger and through the story
of Manuel, this fi lm recalls the importance of the
principle of transmission, a principle that is getting
more and more lost nowadays. The principle of
transmission belongs to the essence of fi lm itself.
The fi lm progresses diff erently between the sound
(the story told by Manuel) and the pictures (the mental
projections of Paul, listening to this story). Indeed,
Paul appropriates Manuel’s story, mixes it with
elements of his own life, reintegrating his feelings,
his mental images, his desire to go: the train that
leaves without him, the old plane that will never fly
again. Thus what is seen does not always correspond
to what is being heard. The fi lm visually integrates all
the moments of emptiness of Paul, those moments
where he contemplates time’s going (the drops of
water that fall from the tap one after the other, like
the signs of the depression he is on the brink of).

The Saviour is definitely a film that questions the
meaning of life and reminds of the existentialist
philosophers. Through the story of Manuel, Paul is
confronted to his own loneliness, to his incapacity to
act, to this chronical fear of living. He lives the same
malaise as the anti-hero of the french fi lm from
Georges Perec. His inner fl oating is the same, but
Paul lives in another context: unlike the lost student
of the 70’s, Paul is a man of the year 2012, a man who
doesn’t have the right to fl oat, otherwise he would
be annihilated. Paul lives in a society where the individual
must act, must succeed, no matter how and
why. He is in this process of cognitive dissonance,
which is underlined in the fi lm by the gap between
what is told and what is showed, even if we discover
later that this dissonance was the result of the
system of the fi lm: the projection of a man (Paul)
in the personal story of another man (Manuel).


I want to shoot the fi lm in Berlin as, for me, this
city represents this dissonance showed in the
story. To me, Berlin is magic, as it off ers quality of
life for good value for money, green spaces, big
fl ats. However, when you arrive in Berlin, people
warn you: “Be careful not to get lost in Berlin”.
Berlin is a crossroads of exiles, a meeting point for
the ones who escaped because they had not found
themselves. Whether they are real strays or “integrated”
strays, the result is the same: to live in
Berlin is to confront yourself to your inner devils,
to the possibility of an absolute chaos. Like many
other French people, I chose to live in Berlin in order
to release myself from the Parisian pressure.
But it’s another pressure that you fi nd in Berlin, a
deeper one, a slower one, a deafer one, a more insidious
one: one that comes, not from a rent to pay,
but from the meaning we have to give to life. What
is ordinary and forgivable in Paris can’t be anymore
when we live in a city where everything seems to be
perfect. Indeed, where everything is there to make
one happy, materialistically that is, if one has made
the wrong choices in life, Berlin doesn’t forgive it.
As Wim Wenders showed in Der Himmel über Berlin,
Berlin is a metaphysical city. We understand
how the fear can drive us to such a place where
the spaces are so vast that we feel walking up
above emptiness, if we have not found our own
source of life. Berlin gives freedom, real freedom:
the city off ers everything and imposes nothing.
In this way, Berlin confronts the individual to ones
inner emptiness and reveals ones deep truths.
No other place illustrates so well this phenome
non than the old airport of Tempelhof in the heart
of Berlin. In 2008, the airport stopped its activity
and the fi eld has been opened to the public. From
the airport, there’s not much more left than the
old perfume of ending things: the buildings and a
vast landing fi eld. It has become a big park with
a phantom character, which gives it all its magic.
By showing this ideal city of the exiled which is Berlin,
like Manuel or Paul’s wife, socially integrated but
totally lost inside, or by showing a Paul that wishes to
escape from this ideal city, my idea is to remind that
the ans- wer is not to seek a Shangri-La, a Xanadu,
an El Dorado, but rather the search for one self which
does not reside anywhere else but within one self.


The fi lm progresses like a nailbiting poem, a melodious
nightmare. In the fi lm Un Homme qui dort
from Georges Perec, the voice of Shelley Duvall rocks
the audience, despite her disturbing words. In The
Saviour, the voice of Manuel (the Narrator) invites
the audience in a bitter sweet ballad. Therefore, the
only moments of breaks of the melody are the moments
of dialogs (the birthday dinner, the meeting
with the Stranger, the crisis at the offi ce), dialogs
that remind of the reality. But the real breakdowns
are elsewhere. They are in the visual projections that
are sometimes in total dissonance with the text of
the narrator and in the end, when Paul fi nds himself
shocked after having faced the inner distress of his
wife. Only then, Paul will be able to hear, to hear

The film is built around two dimensions: the present
which is real – Paul’s birthday dinner followed by the
separation with his wife at the train station – and the
past which is told and imagined (the main part of the
fi lm), lived through the mental projections of Paul,
by hearing the story of Manuel. The cinematographic
treatment marks clearly this diff erence at the
beginning of the fi lm.
The birthday dinner starts like a human comedy,
very lively, artifi cial. Everything is colourful. The camera
is really present, with permanent movement,
movement corresponding to the malaise of Paul
who feels very lonely in the middle of this show. And
in this small live theater play of life that represent
this couple, real communication doesn’t exist: each
of them is locked in his own role. And despite the appearances
of social stability, everything is unstable,
nothing is sure, nothing is clear.
Then, the dinner gives way to the imagination of
Paul and his projections, which resemble photos
from the past with worn out colours and an almost
fi xed camera. In Paul’s projections, the audience is
invited to share his emotional and subjective universe,
made of his marvels and his fears, a surrealistic
world where the images and the situations navigate
between dream and nightmare, a universe in
which the only thing that stays is what makes sense
to his subconscious. Paul hears only the sounds that
make sense to him (a regular falling drop, a train that
arrives, some voices in the bus that echo his pain,
etc.). On the other side, other sounds don’t exist (the
atmosphere of the city), showing that Paul is locked
in his loneliness. He even can’t hear his clients anymore,
as he should learn to fi rst listen to his inner
self. And in the dream moments, some images look
like postcards: life seems to be peaceful and the light
is soft. But the existential fear is there, hidden, and
the characters (Paul’s wife, the passengers in the
bus) hide it behind an artifi cial peaceful appearance,
as if emotions were forbidden (like in Alphaville from
Jean-Luc Godard).