Michel Gondry On The Powerful Influence Of Author Boris Vian

“The memory of reading L’Écume des jours has had an influence on many of my films…”

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry’s new film, Mood Indigo, is an adaptation of French writer Boris Vian’s L’ecume des jours, which was first published in 1947. It was later translated into English under the titles Froth on the Daydream and Foam of the Daze.

In a short exclusive for BuzzFeed, Gondry describes how the book has had a powerful influence on his work, a sentiment echoed by the producer and stars of Mood Indigo:

Like the generations that preceded and have followed me, I grew up under the influence and inspiration of Boris Vian. Vian seemed to come from my own past, as parts of his L’Écume des jours resonate with my personal life. Most notably, my father’s commitment to Duke Ellington, a tutelary figure of L’Écume des jours, whose records he played for me when I was a child.

The memory of reading L’Écume des jours (Mood Indigo) has had an influence on many of my films, especially the music videos I made for Bjork, but also in some aspects of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep, and Be Kind Rewind. It became part of the vocabulary I used unconsciously, while discovering the filmmaking process. Today, it comes naturally to me, coming up with visual solutions — ideas to materialize the world of Boris Vian. It’s as if all those years of filming had been a slow preparation for making my film Mood Indigo.

Michel Gondry

Brio Films / StudioCanal / Drafthouse Films

Mood Indigo star Audrey Tautou said of L’Écume des jours, “I read the novel when I was young, and it was my favorite book.”

Brio Films / StudioCanal / Drafthouse Films

Mood Indigo star Romain Duris said of the novel, “Boris Vian was indignant that society crushes the individual and therefore, at the heart of the book and the film, there is a rebellious and anarchistic spirit that refuses to be enslaved by work.”

Brio Films / StudioCanal / Drafthouse Films

Producer Luc Bossi said, “I read the book as a teenager but it was only later that I realized how much L’Écume des Jours was one of the most visual books in French literature. Its fantastic approach and the tragic love story it tells offered some wonderful cinematographic material. … Very early on I suggested Michel Gondry. I couldn’t say that I offered the project to Michel; as soon as I met with him, he told me he’d always wanted to make the film and would always be looking to do the project. It was a meeting of desires… To him, Mood Indigo was like a summary of his career because a part of what he does is influenced by Boris Vian.”

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A new translation by Stanley Chapmen of Boris Vian’s L’Écume des jours, now titled Mood Indigo, is out now from FSG. You can read an excerpt here.

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