Michel Gondry is just full of surprises in 2013. He kicked off the New Year with a short film, dropped a fairly gorgeous trailer for his upcoming “Mood Indigo” and one project he told us way back in 2011 would be finished “within two years. Maximum,” has been completed. We have to admit, we kind forgot he was working on a doucmentary about famed linguist, philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky, but the movie is now complete. Titled “Is The Tall Man Happy?” it’s something Gondry has been quietly plugging away on for the last few years via a very involved process.
“I’ve been interviewing him many times and I took all the sound, because I barely shot him… I shot him a few occasions but mostly it’s sound,” Gondry said about the movie a couple years back. “I’m doing it in animation so I have my animation camera, it’s a Bolex 16mm. And I’m doing all the drawings. It’s something I do every night when I go home. It’s very exciting to be very complex because we talk about linguistics and it’s…captivating because he has this very personal and convincing views on how language was created as a genetic mutation more than a slow, evolutionary process. And I’m illustrating that.”
And the results, which you can see in the first trailer, speak for themselves. It’s Gondry’s trademark whimsy over the usually thought provoking Chomsky and the result is something that makes the subject a lot more accessible as a result. And while we wait to find when and how we can see it, the film will be presented at MIT next Tuesday, February 12th followed by a Q&A with both Gondry and Chomsky (it’s free and open to the public, fyi). Here’s the director’s statement on the movie:
“My conversations with Professor Chomsky were lively, sometime complex, always very human. Through my illustrations, we follow the winding path of my halting and incomplete understanding. Noam is often patient, sometime less so. The trail always follows unexpected bends. The process and logic of Noam’s stream of ideas have determined the transitions and evolution of my drawings. The concept of ‘animated documentary’ finds a perfect justification here.
At the heart of the conversation, we encounter Noam’s theory of the emergence of language. Listening to Noam discuss this topic made we wonder what it would have been like to meet the astronomer Edwin Hubble and listen to him talk about the red shift he observed from distant galaxies and how it led to the theory of the big bang. Maybe that is a weak comparison, but it is another way of simply saying I felt privileged to have this dialogue.
In the end, what will stay the most with me in these discussions is Noam Chomsky’s humanity, the way he respects people’s different ways of life, their beliefs – and, above all, the way he often includes his wife, Carol Chomsky, in the conversations, and in some way keeps her alive and next to him.”
Again, no word on if this will get a wider release or perhaps go directly to VOD and home video, but you can add it to the pile of exciting things Gondry is presenting this year. Watch below.