Luc Besson very quickly enjoyed success with the general public, when film critics had their teeth against him. Loved, hated, in short : controversial !

Copyright Shana Besson

From diver to filmmaker

Before becoming one of the greatest French filmmakers, Luc Besson saw himself as a diver, a specialist in dolphins. But a serious diving accident at the age of seventeen shatters his dream. Prevented for life from diving again, he returns without conviction to the school benches, spends his time at the cinema and manages to sneak onto the film sets. At the end of his military service, he founded his production company Les Films du loup, and left for Hollywood. Back in France, he rose through the ranks from intern to second assistant. He directed numerous clips, short films and Gaumont reports. In 1981, he became assistant director on the film Les bidasses aux grands maneuvers by Raphaël Delpard. Régis Wargnier hired him as an assistant on numerous commercials. He then met Pierre Jolivet with whom he wrote and shot his first short film, L’Avant-dernier. The duo decided to adapt the story to make it into a film, and in 1983 produced The Last Fight. The film won the Special Jury Prize at the Avoriaz Festival and allowed Luc Besson to make himself known.

Le Grand Bleu : the consecration

In 1985, he directed Isabelle Adjani and Christophe Lambert in his second film, Subway, which revealed him to the general public. the film is aesthetically irreproachable, but leaves some of the critics and the public doubtful. But the real big difference comes two years later with the big blue wave (1987). The public is immediately seduced by the grandiose images and the divine music of a film which instantly becomes cult, to the point of speaking of a “big blue generation“. If the success is gigantic and immediate with the adolescent public, the critics immediately fall on the back of a director whom they consider too formalistic, making a beautiful image while forgetting to give meaning to his story. Nikita was released in 1990, starring none other than his then-wife, Anne Parillaud. Returning to hunt in the lands of the noir thriller, the director sends Léon (1994), a contract killer, to New York. Jean Reno meets an international cast there, including a memorable Gary Oldman as a killer stoned with acid. The public gives a warm welcome to this excellent thriller with a devilishly effective staging.

Tired of so many attacks

With all this accumulated money, the little Frenchy embarks on a titanic project: to produce a real blockbuster in English with an international star named Bruce Willis. This Fifth Element (1997) was not necessarily unanimous on the artistic level, but it achieved its goal by becoming a big commercial success. This time, the professionals accuse him of having shot a French film in English. Undoubtedly tired of so many attacks when he knows unwavering support from the public, Luc Besson is embarking on a new activity. He invests the money earned in a new production company named EuropaCorp.

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