“We thought of Earth, Wind & Fire from the beginning because it’s the music of our youth, the sound of funk when we were 16. Omar Sy didn’t know much about it and so I made him listen to September and Boogie Wonderland (the two songs by the group which are in the film) while we crossed the Parisian quays in his car. He soaked up the music, but when we shot the scene three months later, he didn’t know what song would be played on set. He simply asked to test the floor with shoes because he wanted to be sure he could dance without slipping. And it was gone. »
“Driss (Omar Sy) represents in the film the feet and hands of Philippe (François Cluzet), he is an extension of everything that the latter cannot do. Driss finding that there was no atmosphere at Philippe’s birthday – where the orchestra had just played a selection of classical music -, he decided to show him something strong by dancing for him. Their exchange here takes place through music. It’s one of the first sequences that we imagined to motivate ourselves to write the film. It was visually in our heads, we just had to place it in the scenario. »
“This dance shakes up all of Philippe’s codes. It’s not his nature or his universe but he has such an open mind that he appreciates this gift from Driss. François Cluzet’s whole challenge was to express his sensations with the eyes, which gave him this inner, deep, touched side. Emotion rises in the scene because he stares at Driss smiling and his gratitude is palpable. When we were preparing the film at the real Philippe Pozzo di Borgo’s house in Morocco, Omar said of him that “he takes you in his arms with his eyes. ” The sentence really pleased François who then used it. »
“The idea was almost to steal a moment from Omar, not to over-engineer the scene. We took three cameras, three camera operators and we shot the dance in a single take, something we very rarely do with Olivier Nakache. It was magical: Omar danced in front of 150 people (all the extras from the previous scene had stayed to watch) and he felt a lot of attention on him. After this shot, we went to sleep, it was 4 a.m.! We then recreated a whole dynamic during editing thanks to the different shot values. »
The price of the party
“For me, this is the key scene of the film, it sums up the whole story without dialogue and gets the adrenaline pumping. It cost a lot of money to use the original Boogie Wonderland recording. We wondered if we couldn’t redo the piece in the studio, but an expert told us that there were forty horns on the original track and that this sound quality was impossible to reproduce. So we put money into this sequence and we didn’t regret it. When we promoted the film abroad and appeared on TV shows, it was always this extract that was shown. It’s a real climax. »
“When we appreciate characters and empathize with them, this type of sequence is conducive to what cinema offers best: the successful junction between a sequence and an adapted piece. Personally, this is what totally wins me over. For example, in Magnolia, Paul Thomas Anderson brings out several pieces of music in a perfect way at one point, it’s akin to grace. We are looking for that with Olivier, without it being mechanical or an obligation. But when we think we’ve found it, we happily share it with the public. »
Eric Toledano presents his cult scene, to be seen again this evening on TF1.
This weekend, the first channel is banking on a very popular French film Untouchables. Her dance scene with Omar Sy particularly marked the public upon its release in 2011.
Omar Sy pays tribute to Earth, Wind and Fire
In 2020, the co-director ofUntouchablesEric Toledano, recounted in First how he imagined, with his friend Olivier Nakache, the memorable sequence which sees Omar Sy dancing joyfully in front of François Cluzet to the sound of Earth, Wind & Fire. Here are his words, illustrated by some memorable images from the sequence in question, while waiting to watch the film again.
Trailer ofUntouchables :
Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache will produce a series for Arte