Leos Carax’s interview with Jean-Michel Frodon serves as a glimpse into the brilliant mind that made the perplexing movie, Holy Motors. This interview reveals the inspiration behind techniques used in the movie and themes presented in the film. A central theme, addressed through Carax’s unique conceptual lens, revolves around the demise of the film industry and society as a whole.
The film starts off eerily, with the opening scene depicting an audience in a dark movie theater with their eyes closed. When initially watching the movie, it left me in a very confused state. There was no movement. Was the audience dead? Asleep? How did that man end up in the theater of dead people? This metaphor signifies Carax watching the audience’s interest in cinema dwindle away and die. Carax strongly expresses an appreciation for traditional filmmaking techniques while dismissing digital photography. This is clear as he stated, “All of it made possible by digital cameras, which I despise (they are imposing themselves or being imposed on us), but which seem to reassure everyone.”
Carax’s disdain toward modern technology and his belief in its negative impact on humanity recur throughout Holy Motors, with the symbolic use of the limousine. For Carax, these vehicles signify more than mere transportation— “they mark the end of an era, the era of large, visible machines”. To push this narrative further, Carax alludes to the idea that humans are becoming “slaves to an increasingly virtual world. A world from which visible machines, real experiences and actions are gradually disappearing.” This perspective encapsulates Carax’s broader sentiment that the evolution of modern technology represents a fundamental shift that has detrimental consequences for both the film industry and society at large.