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Trivia & Fun Facts About The Film

“Mars et Avril is a movie that will surprise you. It has to, as every time it seems to go one way, it will twist off in a new direction. It will also give your eyes a good time (…) It looks beautiful and it looks different.” – Esther Inglis-Arkell, io9

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In many ways, Mars et Avril is a tribute to the French and Belgian comics of the 70’s and 80’s, both in form and content, especially François Schuiten and his series Les Cités Obscures. Wanting the source of his inspiration to play a direct role in the creation of the film, rather than trying to mimic his style, Martin Villeneuve invited Schuiten to

serve as production designer on Mars et Avril. Schuiten had already worked on such films as The Golden Compass and Mr. Nobody. Villeneuve went to Brussels in May 2008 to work with Schuiten, then Schuiten came to Montreal twice to follow up: in September 2008 and December 2011. Throughout filming and post-production, the two men touch-based as often as they could through Skype.

Most of the filming for Mars et Avril took place on green screen in order to integrate the actors to the virtual environments in post-production. The other part required the construction of real sets and a dozen filming locations. Under the supervision of location manager Denis Paquette, the creative team toured Montreal and its surroundings in search for unusual places that echoed the movie’s “retro-futuristic” world: artists studios, underground habitats and bars, abandoned train, disused laboratory, Art Deco staircase, etc. Here’s an overview of their research!

More fun facts on the Film!

See a Prezi that walks through some facts about the film

To become Jacob Obus, Jacques Languirand had to grow his beard and hair for more than six months. Let’s quote Richard Hansen, key hair stylist: “As for his look for the film, as there are more and more hair to work with, I’m thinking of going with the lines of the harp and use moustache wax. We might trim some hair, but only those directly above the lips, not those near the ends. I can’t wait to be back in the future!”

Photographer Yanick Macdonald, who worked on Martin Villeneuve’s graphic novels, took Avril’s pictures (using long exposure of the subjects) to be used as props for the film. Macdonald was also hired as still photographer on the set of Mars et Avril, where he took more than 10,000 pictures!

Marie-Josée Croze was originally cast as Avril but left the project due to scheduling conflicts. She was the original Avril in the Mars et Avril graphic novels by Martin Villeneuve (left), and was replaced by Caroline Dhavernas in the movie adaptation (right). Both Croze and Dhavernas were Villeneuve’s roommates during his college years.

Martin Villeneuve and Caroline Dhavernas had directed some short films together during college where you would already find the Marsonautes with their big helmets. These characters would eventually be integrated to Villeneuve’s graphic novels (left). Two of the actors who were then involved – Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais and Pierre Leblanc – were hired, 10 years later, as the Marsonautes in the movie (right).

See some more cool images here!

Mars et Avril – aka Mars & Avril (poster title) or Mars and April (English title) – was shot in March and April 2009, which is quite a coincidence considering that the lead female character is named Avril (April), and that a mission to Mars also figures into the story. The foreshadowing of this is clearer for Francophones, since “Mars” in French literally designates both the Red Planet and the month of March, directly connecting Mars/March to Avril/April. A re-shoot 2 years later (in March 2011) made it quite obvious that there was a “planet alignment” for the film to be shot over this period!

acques Languirand, who was nearly 80 years old when the film was shot, wore an earpiece so that his wife, Nicole Dumais, could feed him his lines off set. It was the radio host’s first leading role in a feature film.

Jacques Languirand had played on stage for Robert Lepage’s Shakespeare Cycle in 1993, got amazing reviews for his performance and said at the time that this experience as an actor would probably be his last. Ten years later, Martin Villeneuve offered him to play Jacob Obus in Mars et Avril (since he had previously landed his image to this character in the graphic novels and that the part was written for him). Languirand couldn’t refuse because the challenge of being part of Quebec’s first science fiction film was too great.

The opening of the film is based on German astronomer Johannes Kepler’s cosmological model from the 17th century, Harmonices Mundi, in which the harmony of the universe is determined by the motion of celestial bodies. Benoît Charest also composed the score according to this theory.

Martin Villeneuve couldn’t afford to have the imaginary musical instruments built, so he went to Cirque du Soleil CEO Guy Laliberté and convinced him to buy them before they were even made. When Laliberté saw Villeneuve’s TED Talk on June 7, 2013, he offered the young filmmaker the “Gravophone” which can be seen in the talk (bottom left on this picture).

See a Prezi that walks through some facts about the film

Upon his performance on the stage of the Liquid Pub, the band of old musicians – formed by actors Jacques Languirand, Marcel Sabourin, André Montmorency and Gabriel Gascon, genuine cultural icons of Quebec – received a standing ovation that lasted several minutes from the 50 extras present during the shooting. The first assistant director even had to stop the applause so as not to be behind schedule!

The look of the extras on the set of Mars et Avril was extraordinary, thanks to Mariane Carter (costume designer), Richard Hansen (key hair stylist) and Sophie Lebeau (key makeup artist). In between takes, they even made lead actor Jacques Languirand laugh!