After the film, there were questions from the audience for Costa-Gavras. Questions such as, “Why do we go along with everything in capitalism like sheep?” Another question was “Isn’t a story about a man who loses his job too boring and simple to make a movie about?” I kept thinking, goodness, thankfully there is a translator for Costa who can re-interpret the question into something worthy of an answer.
I remember one answer—though I can’t recall the question—where Costa-Gavras said, “A good economy will produce good people. A bad economy will not.” This was his summation of a point that seemed to indicate a unique proposition. He was summarizing the idea that he believed that humans will be violent and amoral when the economics of a situation are bad. And he believed that humans will tend toward goodness and wellness when the economic situation is good. This surprised me.
I thought this answer of his a good idea to use when considering The Axe. It is not a typical artitistic sentiment, and I’m not even sure that I disagree with it. This became for me the through line. The movie, for me, in retrospect was an argument about the economics of life, of family, of war.
So when I saw Costa-Gavras standing there, I said to myself. Hey that’s the director. I should talk to him. I explained to him how I enjoyed the film and appreciated the nature of its “amoral” approach as he called it. I asked him how much it cost to make. When evaluating a movie it seems to me to be important to consider its budget. Gavras did put up his own house, about $500,000 as collateral on the film. The total cost was 4.6 million euros.
When I asked him if that was over or under budget, he looked at me as if I was smoking crack. He said that he cannot go even a penny over budget or he might lose his house. Being over budget was not an option. This is based on the commitment of the producers to the French government. He did talk briefly about the French system wherein the government is obligated to kick in a percentage of the cost of making a film once it gets some sort of approval.