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The Intouchables Film Study

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Emma Shepherd

on 15 September 2013

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Transcript of The Intouchables Film Study


The Intouchables

By Harriet Moffat, Holly Wigg, Emma Shepherd and Phoebe Drake.
Driss is dressed in typical street clothing of the projects in France which gives the audience an indication as to how he fits in with France's unwritten class system. Driss' clothing indicates that he is in the lower class of society. He has grown up in France in areas overgrown with public housing, poor immigrants and welfare-dependent individuals. His peers are the type of lower socio-economic individuals who are involved in petty criminal activities such as substance abuse, drug dealing and small-scale theft. Driss' costume is designed to fit in with these friends, and highlights the difference in socio-economic status between Driss compared to the place where he will be employed. He often wears white sneakers with oversized jeans, and a leather jacket with a grey hoodie underneath.
Driss is constantly smoking marijuana in The Intouchables, which links to his street upbringing and the influences of his friends. He introduces this habit to Philippe who takes up the smoking gratefully as relief for his “phantom pains”. When Driss first arrives at Phillipe’s house, he brings a bag with all his belongings including weapons such as knives, which gives the viewer an insight into the sort of life Driss used to lead.
The scene starts with Driss hanging out on the street with his friends sharing chips and a hotdog. The camera shows the men blur away yet Driss stays in the same place. The effect of the camera makes Driss seem distant, like he is not really connected to what his friends are saying. After a while all the friends have left except for one so Driss gets up and leaves. The camera zooms out and shows a birds eye view of the sprawling community housing projects. The camera shows Driss walking along by himself along the deserted roads, which leads the viewers to think about the enormity of the lower classes compared to the small amount of very wealthy people. The camera then goes on to show a close up of the gates of Philippe’s mansion. The gates are made of solid wood surrounded by grey stone walls, which gives the effect of the house being exclusive, and isolated from the world around it. This is a great contrast, as Driss goes from the poorest part of France to the most expensive.
The director cast Omar Sy as Driss, who is of Senegalese descent, because he is in stark contrast to his employer Phillipe who is a typical French aristocrat.

Driss represents all the characteristics Phillipe does not possess, such as strength and mobility. Although from such opposing backgrounds and cultures their friendship is a true triumph in the face of diversity.
The directors of this movie chose particular actors and actresses to play the roles of the characters to accentuate the differences in backgrounds between the characters and to accentuate characteristics of the roles. An example of this is in the casting of Omar Sy as Driss. This film is based on a true story and the person who was Philippe’s caregiver was Abdel Sellou and was French-Arabic. Omar Sy is of Senegalese heritage and therefore has darker skin than Abdel, making the racial differences between him and his co-workers more prominent. Every single person who works for Philippe in the movie is white-European and it was cast this way to emphasise the contrast in background and heritage between Driss and the other staff.
Another example of this accentuating is in the casting of Magalie. Audrey Fleurot was cast as Magalie as she is young, attractive and feminine, which attracts Driss to her. Also the fact that the character she plays in this film is homosexual is important in regard to her feminine looks. She is not attracted to Driss and continuously leads him on and makes fun of him. He is unaware of her sexuality. The directors of this film chose her as she is not the stereotypical “butch” lesbian. It is commonly assumed that women who are gay are more butch than heterosexual women, so she was chosen for her feminine looks.

As this film is in French it has English subtitles. The subtitles are not an exact translation into English as it would not much sense. Translators try and find the closest phrase or word that will make the most sense and still carry the meaning. Some phrases lose their meaning in translation so it is the job of the translators to ensure that it still carries meaning.
In the scene we are analysing there is not much dialogue, meaning there are not many subtitles either. The directors have other means of transferring meaning through non-verbal forms such as through music, light and casting.

Philippe’s house is full of classical style furniture; his house has a very lavish interior with rich brown and creams. In Philippe’s front room the curtains, rugs and other furniture are cream; a warm colour that looks sophisticated, pure and makes his room look very spacious. Most other features in the room are a rich brown which looks bright and friendly but could also represent stability and boredom. The room is filled with paintings, lamps, chairs, tables and other ornamental objects- it is all very cosmetic and fancy. In the following shot Magalie is shown standing in front of curtained door frames, the curtains, door frames and door handles are all gold with glass panels facing out to a vibrant and sunny garden. The greenery shows another contrast between Philippe’s upper-class mansion and Driss’ neighborhood. Following Yvonne through the house; we can see the obvious differences between Driss’ dark black and functional clothes and the elegance of Philippe’s environment.
Deeper within Phillipe’s house there is a large painted mural with a piano; further indicating the class difference. Phillipe’s houses resembles that of royalty with the features matching those that could be in a museum with priceless classic furniture, paintings and ornaments; an obvious contrast between his and Driss’ houses with small cluttered tables and a tiny crowded shared bathroom.



The Intouchables is set in urban Paris with a vast contrast between Driss’ housing area and Philippe’s home. Driss is from a low socio-economic class, as made apparent by his clothes and drug abuse/stealing habits. He lives with many adopted siblings and mother in a large block of council flats in Paris the family living in a small apartment with little personal space. Before the scene, Driss is kicked out of home by his mother and is forced to spend the night in the streets with his friends. They are shown in the council estate smoking pot and
scrounging for food, the gang appear to be having a good time but amongst this crowd Driss now seems disconnected from his environment. A motor bike is used for transition in this scene and the format changes to a time lapse where Driss is shown sitting with his friends until one by one they leave for their homes, leaving him and another man smoking pot alone. The scene is very dark and shows a sinister side of Driss’ life. The environment is shown very basic and rough; the blocks of apartments are a large stained bleak grey with rubbish strewn
across the little greenery shown. It shows Driss’ background and the difference between the life of Philippe and his friend. There is a long high-angle shot of Driss walking across the estate which pans to the side showing more of the cityscape showing the insignificance of Driss and his life in all the poverty.
Driss gets on a train, outside the window we are given a view of his world; the poor parts of the Parisian city. The train stops and we are taken to a beautiful looking train station with a tiled mosaic wall it shows the difference between the utilitarian council flats and the rich life. After getting off the train Driss walks to Philippe’s house across the nice part of town.
People are all dressed very properly, the streets are clean and they are lined with trees; Driss is still wearing his hoodie, leather jacket and jeans as he spent the night on the street. All details on the street and the station are pristine, very classic and public spaces looks well maintained.
The doors to Philippe’s mansion are shown, in their full elegance. Clean wood, polished and gleaming, metal railings and fixings, every detail on the entrance are very neat and precise with intricate carvings on the wood- very different to the bareness of Driss’ neighbourhood. The doors open to show the courtyard, a clear view of the white windows are shown which references back to the many windows in the council estate, drawing a parallel but highlighting the extravagance of Philippe's world.

Philippe’s house is full of classical style furniture; his house has a very lavish interior with rich brown and creams. In Philippe’s front room the curtains, rugs and other furniture are cream; a warm colour that looks sophisticated, pure and makes his room look very spacious. Most other features in the room are a rich brown which looks bright and friendly but could also represent stability and boredom. The room is filled with paintings, lamps, chairs, tables and other ornamental objects- it is all very cosmetic and fancy. In the following shot Magalie is shown standing in front of curtained door frames, the curtains, door frames and door handles are all gold with glass panels facing out to a vibrant and sunny garden. The greenery shows another contrast between Philippe’s upper-class mansion and Driss’ neighbourhood. Following Yvonne through the house; we can see the obvious differences between Driss’ dark black and functional clothes and the elegance of Philippe’s environment.
Deeper within Phillipe’s house there is a large painted mural with a piano; further indicating the class difference. Phillipe’s houses resembles that of royalty with the features matching those that could be in a museum with priceless classic furniture, paintings and ornaments; an obvious contrast between his and Driss’ houses with small cluttered tables and a tiny crowded shared bathroom.




The music in this scene lends itself to appropriately set the mood and help to conjure the desired emotions from the audience.
In the opening few seconds of this scene, there is not music, but rather there is clashing and unsettling noise, that sounds almost blurry and there is the muffled noise of men talking. It is fairly eerie and helps to emphasize the discomfort Driss feels being in this company, and helps to suggest that the risk engaging activities the characters are taking part in are not necessarily wise or preferable pass times. As the scene develops, however, the slight trace of a piano tinkering becomes apparent, and slowly increases in volume and frequency until it is the main aural focus. The music appears to be in stark contrast to the other surroundings that Driss is involved in. This is because the music is slow, classical and poignant (consisting of a piano) and it is much more sophisticated than the other people Driss is in the company of. This emphasises the overall theme of contrast that runs throughout the entire film.
The music also aids in suggesting how things are changing; specifically when Driss gets up and leaves the place where he is sitting with his supposed friend in the alleys. As Driss removes himself from the situation, the music picks up and becomes more feverish as it seems to be heading towards a crescendo. It becomes more uplifting and less eerie, and takers on a slightly more ethereal quality that is not unsettling as it had been originally. As Driss walks, it helps to suggest the change that is occurring in this scene.
When Driss is on the subway, the music does not drown out the noises from within the scene, and the noises can be heard in equal measure. This suggests how the aspects of Driss’ life clash and is vying for dominance.
As Driss emerges from the subway stairs into the wealthy Parisian suburb, the music picks up and reaches a higher crescendo than previously, representing how these are the two moments within the scene when Driss achieves personal growth, if even in small ways Driss’ life has picked up as a result of these actions. As Driss walks through the wealthy suburb the music is in its highest peak, loudest and most dominant as it has been. This represents the achievement.
As Driss enters the house, the music begins to subside as the doors to then large, grand house open, until Driss is inside the house and the music alternates to a different style of classical piano music. This signifies how the scene has changed and the focus of this new scene is different to that of the previous scene.


In this scene light plays a significant aspect in terms of how mood and emotion are clearly conveyed. For example, the use of night and day plays an important part; as the new day breaks things become less sinister and more hopeful for Driss. At night time however, it is apparent that he does not fit in and Driss actions show that he recognises this sense of not belonging. The dark, dim light helps to convey this point as well. The dark lighting creates feelings of worry, concern, stress, unease and apprehension from the audience. Aspects of the scene are dimly lit and shadowy to emphasise lack of clarity; how the situation he is in is not ideal or beneficial for his well-being.
The other characters smoking also contribute to the overall lighting. This creates the sense that it is not a place of security or safety for Driss. This unease towards his company is also shown by the fact that, due to the lighting, you cannot clearly make out the faces or identities of the men he is with. This anonymity represents the “dinginess” of his friends. It also provides us with the knowledge that they do not have a major role; but simply represent the general context of “unpleasant” or “negative” which is friends fall under.
The lighting is also extremely harsh. Towards the beginning of the scene, it is extremely dark but by the end it is back to extremely bright surroundings. This helps to emphasize the overall theme of contrast and turmoil within Driss’ life.
In the alleyway, all things are of varying dark shades that include black, dark brown, grey and blue. These are all fairly unhappy and negative colours and emphasise this feeling of unease.
There is also a clash that is occurring when, towards the beginning, there are extremely bright LED lights in the otherwise complete darkness of the rest of the dim street. This is an early sign of the situation Driss is in; he is the outlier in this situation, a sole light in a surrounding darkness. White as a colour conjures the psychological sense of total reflection and black is total absorption, and this is acute especially in that Driss is totally reflecting his surroundings by moving into the wealthy, Parisian suburb and drastically altering his life.
As Driss leaves the alley where he is sitting with one of his street friends, the light begins to increase steadily and by the time Driss has made it to the bus station and onto the bus, the sun has risen. This is a metaphor for things ‘rising’ or ‘picking up’ at this stage of his life. It is still slightly dim however, but when Driss emerges from the Subway steps into the wealthy, Parisian suburb, the lightness has reached its peak and is in full, complete brightness when he emerges. This high level of brightness lends itself to completely illuminate the wealthy surroundings where he is situated.
Light
Subtitles
Costumes
Camera Angles
Casting
Settings
Props
Symbolism
Music
Furniture and Architecture
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