Jeremy Clapin’s I Lost My Body is probably one of the most interesting animated features you will see all year. This is miles away from our traditional offerings from the animation world. Whatever you do, don’t let the premise make you not seek it out. WATCH IT!
The story is a simple one, a severed hand seeks to be reunited with its body and owner. I Lost My Body is animated simplicity, but yet, so wonderfully artistic. Clapin keeps the dialogue to a minimum, and instead he creates tension and emotion through his spectacular sound design and incredible visuals. Watch the movie in surround and you’ll think there’s a fly in the room with you. The electric score by Dan Levy is perfect as the hand seeks to reunite with Naoufel.
Through flashback, we learn how Naoufel’s accident happened, Clapin crosses genres from action to fantasy but it’s a deeply profound story and utterly brilliant for Clapin’s first feature.
I had a quick catch up with Clapin to talk about creative control and making I Lost My Body
What made you want to go into animation?
I went to the National School of Art Decoratif of Paris and there was a trip to the Annecy Film Festival. There was no internet at that time. You couldn’t see films like Disney and Pixar because of that. I went to Annecy and discovered short films. I discovered ways to tell a story, new ways, and so I decided to make films.
I Lost My Body is such a wonderful animated story. How did it begin?
It began as a book. In 2012, I met the producer Marc Du Pontavice who introduced me to the book Happy Hand by Guillame Laurant. It was about a hand that had been cut off.
I talked about making the film, but what I didn’t realize was how long it would take. I come from short films because you have freedom. I know when you work in something that has more of an industrial process like an animated feature, if you can’t work with a director, everything collapses. Things have to be done a certain way and you lose control because too many people are involved. That’s why I didn’t do feature films. However, when I spoke to Marc, we talked about me still having creative control.
The first year, I worked with Laurent on the script. But, I couldn’t find the right vision. I kept looking to the book to find a story. It was also the first time I was working on an adaptation. Previously, I’d been working on my own stories, and it was much easier to work on something that I had created from the beginning.
With this, I had to deal with something coming from someone else. Marc and Laurent pushed me to get my universe more involved in the film. So, I started from scratch. I kept the concept of the book, but brought so much of my own into the book.
How did you get to give the hand so much emotion, especially when you’re not dealing with eyes for expression? I loved what you did with that.
It was challenging and I really loved it because you have to find a way to frame things in a different way than you would normally do.
Quentin Dupieux’s Tyre was similar. He succeeded in giving life to that. So, I watched that to see how he framed it and I used that as a reference for framing the hand. When you have a character with such weakness, you can’t be scared by that. You make that weakness strong, and you have to work on developing that. I’d have the camera really close to capture the touch and the fingertips. I’d have the camera close to the fingertips as it’s traveling so you experience the world with it.
You show us a different view of Paris, not one we’re used to or one traditionally represented in film. It’s busy. It’s dangerous and it’s not glamorous.
I really wanted to explore Paris as the hand explores it. So, you have the hand on the metro. You have the hand having to hide often in darkness. Because the environment of the hand is different, it’s a different point of view, that’s what I wanted to show.
Your sound design in this is really great. From the fly to the sounds of the hand’s environment. You also rely on that more than dialogue. Naoufel’s world is experienced differently too.
I wanted Naoufel’s world to be like the hand. So, Naoufel’s world, a lot of it is through the recorder. He listens to recordings. That’s how he observes and experiences the world.
It’s two different points of view, so I created a soundscape around what each was experiencing and thought that would be more important to creating the emotion than through dialogue.
When I did use it, I kept it at a minimum.