Berlin Film Festival: Michel Gondry Interview – Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?

He is one of the great minds of his time: Noam Chomsky. His ideas and philosophical thoughts rang in a time of forward-thinking theories, which are often today considered the start of modern linguistics. Now at the age of 85 he is a retired professor, but his works are far from being forgotten as his theories are still taught in universities all around the world.

Director Michel Gondry, a creative genius himself, was fascinated by the mind and world of Chomsky. To him, he is “one of the greatest thinkers alive”. And so some years ago, he set out to produce a documentary about Chomsky’s ideas. Gondry’s newest film Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy? takes the form of an animated interview, in which Gondry asks the questions, but also lets Chomsky talk as long as he needs to clarify his views. The segments of the interview shown in the movie were recorded on several days on the director’s 16mm Bolex, its clicking sound accompanying the film as a background noise.

Language barriers between the French creative and the American linguist sometimes hinder, but then again enrich their conversation. Rather than being all knowing and competing with Chomsky in terms of intelligence, Gondry approaches the conversation with an open mind, admits faults and miscommunications and tries to make the viewer understand by putting himself on the same level of knowledge as the audience.

The words are wonderfully animated with playful and colourful images, so Chomsky’s theoretical ideas quickly turn into understandable scenarios, which are more or less easy to grasp. Enlightening, fascinating and sometimes incredibly funny, Gondry manages to not only capture the work of Chomsky, but also give an insight into the life of the person behind those ideas.

Flicks And The City had a chance to speak to Michel Gondry about the making of Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy? at the Berlin Film Festival. Check out the video to see what he had to say: