VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS
About The Production
From Page to Screen:
Valerian Takes Flight
Long before Luc Besson became one of the world's foremost action auteurs -
writing, producing and directing a string of iconic hits - he was a young boy
transfixed by a comic-book series called "Valerian and Laureline," which debuted
the decade before he happened upon it. Recalls the filmmaker: " When I was 10
years old, I'd go to the kiosk every Wednesday. One time, I found this magazine
called 'Pilote.' Inside, I discovered 'Valerian and Laureline.' I thought, 'Oh
my God, what is this thing?' That day, I fell in love with Laureline, and I
wanted to be Valerian."
Besson quickly became addicted to the engrossing graphic serials written by
French author Pierre Christin and boldly illustrated by Jean-Claude Mezieres,
devouring all 22 volumes. "It was the 1970s, and it was the first time we saw
this modern girl kicking ass," he shares. "It was not about the superhero with
the cape. This was much more light and free and enjoyable because Laureline and
Valerian were like two normal cops today - except it's the 28th century, and
everything is weird and amazing."
First published by Dargaud in 1967, the comic-book series on which the film is
based inspired Besson not only to imagine his seminal The Fifth Element,
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets it has also influenced other
filmmakers to create some of the most iconic science fiction movies of the last
With his love of "Valerian and Laureline" always in the back of his mind, Besson
grew up to become the creative force behind such influential action films as La
Femme Nikita and Leon: The Professional. It wasn't until he started filming his
cult-classic, retro-futuristic dystopian epic The Fifth Element, that he
considered taking his childhood fantasy hero off the shelf and began toying with
the idea of adapting the graphic novels into a movie. Besson laughs:
"Jean-Claude Mezieres, who designed The Fifth Element, said to me, 'Why are you
doing this? You should do Valerian!"
Constrained by the relatively primitive visual effects technology available in
the 1990s, Besson knew it would be some time before he was able to create the
wondrous "Valerian and Laureline" universe he knew the source material deserved.
"When I went back to read the comic books again," he recounts, "I decided it was
impossible to make the films. The technology at the time was not good enough to
re-create all these worlds and aliens."
It would take a seismic jolt and a huge evolutionary leap forward in visual
effects to enable the filmmaker to bring "Valerian and Laureline" to life. After
James Cameron invited Besson to the set of his space epic, Avatar, the French
director made up his mind. "When Avatar arrived, it made everything seem
possible. I remember thinking, 'One day I will come back to sci-fi with these
new tools, where the only limit is your imagination. That's when I decided to
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