Postponed several times, the concert-film tour “Le grand bleu” finally begins on Wednesday 14 September, in Nantes, and will be on Friday 16 at the Zénith de Toulouse. On stage, live, Eric Serra, composer of the famous music, and his musicians.
Covid, then health problems that concerned you, led to the postponement of your tour. What happened ?
I was treated for bowel cancer. I underwent 6 months of chemotherapy. Successfully as I am completely healed. I’m doing very well now.
How did you live this test?
I didn’t let myself go. I thought about my children; I didn’t want to die. Fortunately, I tolerated chemo quite well, coupled with an experimental treatment from the United States. The hardest thing to live with is the moment you hear the news without knowing how to get out. Six months is a long time …
Did you keep playing to keep your spirits up?
Not really. Due to the treatment, I felt a tingling sensation in my fingertips, which became numb. It is very unpleasant. I would pick up a guitar from time to time, just for a few seconds, to check that I wasn’t losing too much technique. For the rest, I have put my life in order. At home, it was the souk!
What memories do you have of the beginnings of the “Big Blue” project?
One night, Luc Besson invited me to dinner to tell me about the film for two hours. Luc says it very well: I could already see the film just by listening to it. He gave me a documentary about Jacques Maillol, the freediver from whom he wanted to draw inspiration. I was fascinated by what he was doing. And shocked by the man.
Did you know his universe?
For nothing. We went to visit Jacques Maillol on the island of Elba, where he lived. He introduced us, Luc and me, his technique. He rained a lot. I wanted to feel his emotions, his feelings, as deeply as possible.
When did you start composing music?
Luc wanted some music on set. I composed two pieces. The rest I did by seeing the photos. My freediving experience inspired me a lot. And the fact that, shortly before, he worked a lot on writing symphonic music.
However, the music of the “Grand bleu” is electronic …
We were at the beginning of software for composing music with computers. From the start, this fascinated me. I bought the first machines, which I tested on “Subway”. Hence, the possibilities developed rapidly.
How did you experience the release of the “Big Blue”, murdered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1988 before becoming a huge success …
It may sound strange but I don’t remember it at all. The soundtrack album went so fast that I focused on it. I was then on vacation in the south of France. One day, the head of my record company, Virgin, calls me and says, “You went straight to 9th on the Top album.” For me it was already crazy. The next week, he reminds me: “You are 4th, just behind Sting, Michael Jackson and Johnny Clegg. I stole their top spot 7 days later and stayed there for 6 months! It completely changed my life.
Why did you wait so long to imagine a cine-concert?
Producer Gérard Drouot had been telling me about it for a long time. Except that I was not at all convinced by the concept itself, which I found absurd. He showed me “Titanic” in this form … and I stick to what I thought. Eventually, after hearing my friends tell me that a lot of people would like it, I agreed. I took great pleasure in it, rediscovering the initial spontaneity and lightness. We will be 7 musicians on stage, supported by 7 technicians. The installation is complex; it’s NASA!
“With Luc Besson we are like two brothers”
After complicated years, financially and personally, Luc Besson is back on film sets. He just shot “Dogman”, for which obviously his old accomplice Eric Serra composed the music. “I find it difficult to define this film. It’s not science fiction at all, nor a comedy, much less a western, the musician laughs. It is very special and very strong. Like the bond that has united the two men for 40 years. “We have never strayed. During all of his misadventures, I was there. I tried to support him as best I could. He was also very present during my illness. We are like two brothers. “