The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Director Marguerite Duras Day

 

from Intense Vocalization: Marguerite Duras
by David Ehrenstein

‘ The Marguerite Duras retrospective at the Film Society of Lincoln Center this month—18 years after the celebrated auteur’s death—presents an ideal opportunity to contemplate her place in the history of cinema. For while Hiroshima Mon Amour, the screenplay she wrote for Alain Resnais to direct, became an international success in 1960 (and remains a touchstone of “art cinema” to this day), the films she subsequently created on her own, beginning in 1969 with Destroy, She Said, have been alas, for the happy few. …

Destroy, She Said unfolds in the garden of a country hotel adjoining a forest that threatens the soigné guests (Michael Lonsdale, Henri Garcin, Nicole Hiss, Catherine Sellers) in some strange, difficult-to-define way comparable to to the “something” that so unsettles the upper-crust swells in Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance. Low-key in tone, it does not seem like the sort of “art film” designed to break new ground. But it does so, and by explicit intention: Duras described her text as “a book that could either be read or acted or filmed or, I always add, simply thrown away.” The key word in this is “book,” as literature is always primary for Duras—even in the midst of the seemingly resolutely “cinematic.” It’s not by accident that Lonsdale—soon to emerge as a key Duras interpreter—plays a character called “Stein.” His name is derived from Duras’s novel The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein, the most crucial work of her entire oeuvre. …

‘Duras had no hope of replacing “real movies” with her conditionally tensed ones, but she went on making her sui generis works anyway—aided by a curious “real-life” character named Yann Andrea. A fan of India Song, Andrea entered Duras’s world in 1980 when he helped her through a “rest cure” designed to stem her alcoholism. His account of this, in a 1983 book entitled M.D., was met with some degree of critical interest. Duras’s own interest in Andrea quickly became an obsession. He appears with Bulle Ogier in Agatha et les lectures illimitées her 1981 reworking of elements that first appeared in her early biographical novel Un barrage contre le Pacifique (aka The Sea Wall), filmed by René Clément as This Angry Age in 1957. While Anthony Perkins and Sylvana Mangano play characters based on Duras and her brother in Clement’s version, their emotional conflict doesn’t go so far as incest, which is frankly discussed in Agatha. As nothing in the film is conventionally dramatized (Andrea and Ogier are seen wandering about the lobby of a hotel on the Normandy coast that also served as a setting for her India Song variation avant la lettre, La Femme du Gange, in 1974), no acting in the conventional sense was required. …

‘Curiously, Duras ended her filmmaking career with something resembling the conventional. Les Enfants began life as a 1970 book she wrote for children entitled Ah! Ernesto, later filmed by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet in 1982 as En rachâchant (a rendition Duras disliked; also part of the retrospective’s shorts program). The story concerns a little boy who doesn’t want to go to school lest he learn things that he doesn’t already know. Les Enfants expands this slim tale to feature length with the novelty of having Ernesto played by an adult actor, Axel Bogousslavsky. It’s wryly amusing in a way quite unusual for Duras. More importantly, it’s shot in a more or less ordinary style, with actors playing actual characters and speaking words on screen in the usual manner.

‘That Duras would conclude her filmmaking career in this manner must be regarded in the context of a career that was devoted to textual elucidation. One suspects that the success of her novel The Lover in 1984—an overwhelming hit with both critics and the general public—put her off from filmmaking. Jean-Jacques Annaud’s 1992 adaptation of this tale, which was another derivation from the Un barrage contre le Pacifique cycle and which related how her family pimped her out to a wealthy Chinese man, was served up in the plush “high-class” erotic style of the Emmanuelle films. In what you might call anticipatory retaliation, Duras in 1991 wrote The North China Lover, a “remake” of The Lover adding details that the first version of Duras’s original novel didn’t include, all folded into an explicit critique of the film she suspected (with good reason) Annaud was putting together.’

(read the entirety)

 

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Stills























































 

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Further

Marguerite Duras @ IMDb
Association Marguerite Duras
Société Internationale Marguerite Duras
Les Écrits de Marguerite Duras
‘La petite cuisine de Marguerite’
‘In Love with Duras’ by Edmund White
‘The obsessions of Marguerite Duras’
‘The Art of Fugue: on Marguerite Duras’s Film Aesthetics’
Interview avec Marguerite Duras
‘Yann Andréa, la dernière énigme de Marguerite Duras’
‘Initiales M.D. (Marguerite Duras) (+ DVD)’
‘Marguerite Duras, l’éternel retour’
Lettre de Marguerite Duras à Alain Resnais
Film: ‘Marguerite, A Reflection of Herself’
‘NOUVEAU ROMAN CINEMA: MARGUERITE DURAS’
‘The Film Society to Fete Marguerite Duras with October Retrospective’

 

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Extras


Worn Out With Desire To Write (1985)


Marguerite Duras – “Écrire” (ARTE)


MARGUERITE DURAS À PROPOS DE L’AN 2000


Jean Luc Godard – Marguerite Duras

 

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L’interview imaginaire
from Versatile Mag

 

En 1996, vous décidez de tout arrêter, de ne plus écrire une ligne. Avez-vous l’impression d’avoir fait le tour de la question, de ne plus rien avoir à raconter ?

Marguerite Duras : Des fois, on se laisse prendre au jeu. Juste avant 1996, j’avais écrit un livre qui s’appelait C’est tout. Voilà, il y a des événements dans la vie, un peu comme la passion à laquelle on ne peut pas échapper et j’aurais pu continuer à écrire, j’aurais pu continuer à faire des reprises, à faire des modulations de mes œuvres, à l’infini.

Peu de voix se sont élevées concernant vos écrits, regrettez-vous cette absence de polémique ?

M. D. : Foutaises ! Conneries ! J’ai passé ma vie à être l’objet de polémiques. J’ai toujours divisé ce qu’ils appellent « le monde littéraire », j’ai soi-disant eu trop de casquettes alors que la seule qui me convient, c’est celle d’écrivain. Écrivain, mais pas de littérature. Écrivain.

En 2014… 2014, la Pléiade… Et sinon, on m’a toujours taxée de charabia complaisant, toujours jugé un vocabulaire limité, qu’on ne comprenait pas pourquoi Gallimard permettait qu’on sorte un de mes livres en y laissant autant de fautes de grammaire !

Et mon passage dans le journalisme, pour Libération, ça, ça a fait polémique. Sur l’affaire du Petit Grégory, par exemple. Donc, des polémiques : tout le temps.

Ces critiques concernent surtout vos adaptations sur scène, au cinéma qui, en revanche se sont vues mises à mal…

M. D. : Alors, il y a deux choses. Il y a les films que j’ai fait moi. Que j’ai écrits et réalisés moi. Ça, ce sont des films que l’on pourrait qualifier maintenant de films d’art et d’essai. C’est ma manière à moi de parler de l’écriture cinématographique, de dire qu’elle n’était pas forcément narrative, qu’on pouvait faire du cinéma autrement. Après, j’ai quand même collaboré avec le cinéma et ça s’est très bien passé : Hiroshima mon amour d’Alain Resnais, c’est un « classique », tout de même. Après, il y a eu certaines adaptation dont on est tous au courant , comme l’Amant qui a été adapté par Jean-Jacques Annaud. On n’était pas d’accord, mais il avait obtenu les droits… Mais ça m’a permis de faire un livre, et un bon livre, de reprendre après quelques années l’Amant et de sortir un livre qui s’appelle l’Amant de la Chine du nord. Un livre où j’ai écrit mon film, c’est-à-dire que l’Amant de la Chine du nord, c’est le film écrit de l’Amant… qui a eu beaucoup plus de succès que l’amant, son film.

L’essentiel de vos récits sont extraits de votre vie, au temps de la gloire du colonialisme français. Est-ce une sorte de nostalgie ?

M. D. : Pas du tout une nostalgie, c’est un décor. Il y a eu le décor de l’Indochine, de ce qu’on a appelé le cycle indochinois, mais après, il y eu d’autres décors, d’autres cycles dans mon œuvre. Il n’y a aucune question de nostalgie. J’y explique plutôt les tares du colonialisme. Et sinon les thèmes de mon œuvre, les thèmes que soi-disant, je reprends, je module et j’étire, le rapport à la mère, la mère qui forcément est toute puissante, mais qui forcément n’est pas à la hauteur. Et puis il y a la rencontre amoureuse, les femmes, des déclinaisons de femmes. Je parle aussi beaucoup dans mes livres des saisons uniques et humides et chaudes. Je parle de transgression sociale. Je parle souvent de colonialisme, mais pas le colonialisme clinquant : je parle souvent de Blancs, les petits Blancs moyens et comment ils se situaient, eux, dans le colonialisme.

Mais je parle aussi beaucoup de la Shoah.

Contrairement à vos écrits résolument tournés vers la passé, vous semblez apprécier la jeunesse, du moins dans le choix de vos compagnons, est-ce une manière de se tourner vers l’avenir ?

M. D. : L’avenir, je n’en ai rien à foutre. Enfin, c’est facile de dire cela quand on est édité dans la Pléiade, mais je suis plutôt – et c’est pour ça que vous me parlez de l’âge de mes compagnons – quelqu’un qui est dans le présent. Ce n’est pas du tout une question d’avenir, c’est une question d’être dans le présent et d’absorber tout ce que peut contenir le présent.

Que cherchez-vous à oublier ?

M. D. : J’écris, donc forcément quand on écrit, on n’oublie pas, on convoque. C’est prétentieux de dire qu’on est seul devant sa feuille. Moi, je convoque et à la limite, on peut dire que je retranscrits ce que j’ai convoqué, donc je n’essaie pas d’oublier : je bois plutôt pour faire face à tous ceux que je convoque, tous ceux que je ne peux pas oublier.

Selon vous, qui pourrait reprendre votre flambeau ?

M. D. : Grand silence

Un flambeau pour éclairer quoi ?

Beaucoup de gens se disent mes héritiers, mais je pense qu’il y a plein de gens qui croient écrire, qui croient écrire des livres, alors qu’ils n’écrivent rien.

Il faut écrire comme une nécessité absolue, dans l’urgence : oui, pourquoi pas ?

Mais le flambeau, non. Je ne suis pas un chef de file, contrairement à ce qu’on a dit, je n’ai pas appartenu au Nouveau roman, je suis juste Marguerite Duras, M.D.

Quelles seraient les qualités essentielles et éternelles de la littérature ?

M. D. : Comme je l’ai dit avant, écrire, écrire avec un but, avec une générosité, ne pas faire semblant d’écrire, mais écrire, se dire que ce qu’on écrit est essentiel.

Pour vous, qu’est-ce qu’un bon livre ?

M. D. : Je ne sais pas.

Si l’on devait vous inviter à dîner, quel serait le menu idéal ?

M. D. : Avant de parler du fond, on va parler de la forme.

Ce serait manger en Normandie, au bord de la mer, dans mon hôtel des Roches noires. Ou alors en-bas de chez moi, à Paris, à Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

De la cuisine paysanne. Je cuisine moi-même comme une paysanne. A Saint-Germain-des-Prés, ça pourrait être aux Prés aux Claires ou au Petit Saint-Benoît. J’aime la cuisine paysannes à Neauphle, dans la maison que j’ai achetée avec l’agent gagné avec Barrages contre le Pacifique… Moi, là-bas, j’aimais bien faire la cuisine, ça prenait du temps. Je la faisais quand mes amis étaient soit en train de dormir, soit en train de se promener. J’avais tout l’après-midi, je faisais la cuisine, je faisais des listes de courses. Des listes de courses qu’on a même retrouvées publiées dans la Pléiade. ‘Faut pas déconner.

Voilà, de la cuisine qui cuit beaucoup, qui mijote, comme on dit. S’il n’y a pas de citron dans la cuisine, il n’y a rien.

Et puis, il y a l’omelette vietnamienne. L’omelette vietnamienne, avec la cuisine paysanne est ce que j’aime le plus.

Mon fils a fait publier après ma mort, un livre de cuisine : La cuisine de Marguerite Duras. Bon, Yann Andréa l’a fait interdire. C’est vrai que ce n’était pas très littéraire.

Avec François Mitterrand, on parlait beaucoup cuisine, même si je ne l’ai jamais vu manger des ortolans, caché sous sa serviette.

Lors de ce repas, quels seraient les sujets de discussion à éviter ?

M. D. : Aucun. Aucun, à part, peut-être la littérature ou la critique littéraire, mais sinon, il faut parler. Il faut brasser les idées.

Quel fond sonore souhaitez-vous entendre ?

M. D. : Moderato Cantabile. Modéré et chantant. Une musique toujours reliée à la passion. J’aime surtout dans ces repas – et c’est peut-être ce qui pourrait être intéressant dans ces repas -, j’aime la musique quand elle perturbe le développement narratif, quand il faut s’arrêter tellement on est intrigué ou subjugué par la musique et qu’il faut reprendre l’histoire. C’est ça qui est intéressant. J’aime les chansonnettes : Quand le lilas fleurira, Mon amour… Voilà, toutes ces choses-là d’avant-guerre, ou même des choses plus classiques comme l’Art de la fugue de Jean-Sébastien Bach que j’ai beaucoup écouté quand mon fils prenait des cours de piano. Vous êtes au courant. Au courant de ces histoires où les petits garçons prennent des leçons de piano pendant que les mères tombent amoureuses.

 

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14 of Marguerite Duras’ 19 films

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La musica (1967)
‘Marguerite Duras’ La Musica, which she adapted from her own short two-character play, is about a husband and wife who meet three years after their formal separation, when they return to the provincial town where they once lived to pick up their divorce decree. In the film’s longest sequence, which I suspect is pretty much the total of the play, He (Robert Hossein) and She (Delphine Seyrig) come together in the lobby of their hotel, at first acting like anxious, rueful ghosts. They circle each other in carefully choreographed movements; alternately each literally frames the other by his own person and by his mirror image. (Miss Duras loves to see things in and through glass—mirrors, windshields, windows). The revelations, though obliquely made, are quite specific. She was unfaithful. He once planned to murder her, She, unknown to him, once tried to commit suicide. La Musica is intellectually chic moviemaking of the sort that is quite entertaining while it is going on but practically ceases to exist, even as a memory, when it’s over. Hossein and Miss Seyrig read their lines with style and look marvelously unhappy, she, especially, in blond bob that evokes the 1930’s and the image of Lilyan Tashman.’ — New York Times


Trailer

 

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Destroy She Said (Détruire dit-elle, 1969)
‘In a secluded hotel circumscribed by a dense forest Max and Alissa Thor meet Stein and Elisabeth. Max, a professor of future history and an aspiring author, is immediately attracted to the brooding wife of industrialist Bernard Alione, Elisabeth, who is recovering from a miscarriage. Stein, a German Jew and potential writer, is infatuated by Alissa, Max’s young wife and former student. During their sojourn the guests’ identities gradually meld. While playing cards, for example, each guest anticipates the others’ observations. Although her friends remain at the resort, the insecure Elisabeth leaves upon the arrival of her worldly husband. Destroy, She Said is a madhouse in its narrative and dialogue with contradictions within sentences. A triumph performance from Catherine Sellers sells the crazy with wonderful panics and confusion wayward bursts.’ — collaged


Excerpt


Excerpt

 

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Nathalie Granger (1972)
Nathalie Granger is aesthetico-philosophical opus-film. The strictest logic of its visual images step by step moves us, the viewers, to the feeling that we, while observing the still and harmonious life in a quiet and prosperous household, never expected to get – the feeling of the incompatibility between traditional (over-worldly) spirituality (as it exists and flowers in religious and/or ideological beliefs) and… children’s psychological needs. It is the one of the miracles of this film that the concept of traditional (above-worldly) spirituality is not defined but is impersonated by two profoundly intelligent actresses: Jeanne Moreau and Lucia Bose. They both incarnate over-worldliness with miraculous naturalness of complete immanency. They live eternity as if it is possible to breath when you are inside it. To watch Nathalie Granger is challenging as well as a stimulating and rewarding experience for all those who in their life and thinking don’t follow the authoritarian clichés and seductive songs of entertaining ads but are prone to try to make up their own minds about life and the world.’ — actingoutpolitics.com


the entire film

 

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India Song (1975)
‘Marguerite Duras creates a sensual, yet abstract and enigmatic exposition on longing, isolation, haunted memory, and obsolescence in India Song. Duras integrates highly stylized, yet integrally personal (and relevant) impressionistic images of her youth in then-French Indochina and the radical nouveau roman structure that has come to define the novelist turned filmmaker’s mid-century avant-garde literature within the classical framework of tableaux imagery that redefines the syntax of traditional (and particularly cinematic) narrative. From the opening sequence of ambiguous, (but implicitly colonial) foreign landscapes, Duras establishes the dissociation between the visual and the aural through incongruous and aesthetically formalized tableaux juxtapositions that, in turn, reflect the film’s overarching themes of alienation and estrangement: exclusive use of non-diegetic sound to serve as a surrogate contextual (anti) narrative; visually distanced, non-confronting dialogue through mirrored angles (a technique similarly implemented in Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad); pervasive musicality through a slow rhythm waltz that conveys the film’s paradoxical sense of displacement and stasis through its languid pacing, recursiveness, and melancholic tone; repeated references to leprosy that ingeniously evoke an implicit association between isolation (through disease quarantining) and colonies (lepers and imperialism). Inextricably bound in the performance of the empty social rituals of their class, these aimless, privileged colonialists embody the adrift and inutile fleeting vestiges of a crumbling empire, reduced to the imperceptible glow of an anecdotal setting sun against an inherently sovereignless – and unconquerable – eternal landscape.’ — Strictly Film School


Excerpt


Excerpt


Marguerite Duras à propos de India song (27 avril 1975)

 

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Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert (1976)
‘The film is a sequel to her 1975 film India Song and features Delphine Seyrig reprising her role as Anne-Marie Stretter. The film premiered at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival in Directors’ Fortnight. Duras demonstrates that the disease and suffering of the Indians symbolically infects the Europeans as well. Thus, she asserts: One of the external signs of the fissuring of the seemingly watertight compartmentalized colonial society is the deep sense of malaise and maladjustment which is wearing out its white inhabitants. In spite of the vast paraphernalia of protective artifices, the Europeans find their presence in the colony quite intolerable.’ — collaged


Compression “Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert” (2016) de Gérard Courant

 

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Entire Days Among the Trees (1976)
Des journées entières dans les arbres is a 1976 French film directed by Marguerite Duras, based on her novel. Prior to directing a film version of the novel, Duras had already modified it into a stageplay that had enjoyed a theatrical run.’ — found


The Making of Marguerite Duras’s ‘Entire Days Among the Trees’

 

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Baxter, Vera Baxter (1977)
‘Images of the seaside again at the beginning of the film, when Carlos d’Alessio’s music starts playing. This song will continue to play the entire 90 minutes of the film. It’s maddening! It’s exhilarating. Especially given the contrast between the catchy nature of the relentless music and the lethargy of the main character, a woman deciding whether to rent a very expensive villa with her cheating husband’s money. It’s supposedly the neighbours who are playing the music. But we never see them. A troubled testament to the eternity of love. Whatever happens, however many times we end affairs, we leave each other, we cheat, we lie, we abuse, love never ends. Part of us can never stop loving. Even if the rest of us is ill equipped to deal with it. And it is ultimately this discrepancy that causes us to hurt each other. Not the lack of love. But its eternal presence.’ — Tale of Tales


Excerpt


Excerpt

 

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Les mains négatives (1978)
‘The images of the film are Paris at dusk. A city far too great to comprehend on any level other than the superficial, a city that leaves one reeling in Stendhalism. It’s a blank Paris, before the stories of the day play out, it mirrors the “mains negatives” of the title, presence by absence, the hand-print revealed by the blank left when the area round it is covered in paint. The beauty of the city is revealed by the traces that people have left behind, murals, avenues of trees, monuments. Marguerite spoke of these images as images passe-partout, images that allow the narration to infuse them with meaning. It’s good to watch the film without sound first to understand how fully the perception of the images is informed by the narration. The parallel images you don’t see are of pre-historic petroglyphs, stencilled scuplted hand-prints which Duras describes as being in a cave by the sea. These were, in her interpretation, people simply recording their existence, in front of the immutability of the sea and the granite. What they have in common is that all the hands look the same, there’s an equality to each person’s existence implied.’ — oOgiandujaOo, IMDb


the entire film

 

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Cesarée (1979)
‘Made up of stills of the Tuileries gardens and its statues by Maillol, Césarée is stamped with the memory of Berenice, queen of the Jews, and of her city of which nothing remains but the name, abandoned following her repudiation. There is this same confusion of time periods and resurgence of narratives in Les Mains négatives. Its dolly shots trace a slow advance through Paris, which is deepened by the reference to the drawings of hands found in many caves dating from the Magdalenian age. Thus comes to a head an ode to humanity, and to all its excluded ones, that daylight, only just risen over the city, has not yet forced into extinction. Its murmur resounds for a long time: “Everything is being crushed, I love you farther than you. I would love anyone hearing me shout that I love you.”‘ — Frac Lorraine


the entire film

 

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Le Navire Night (1979)
‘A huge let-down to audiences at the time, Marguerite Duras’ follow-up to her lush and flamboyant India Song is a very different film indeed. Telling the story of two tragic lovers who never meet (the girl is dying of leukemia and daren’t risk face-to-face contact) Duras sets out to communicate this ‘faceless’ relationship to her audience by – and you really won’t believe this unless you see it – barely even photographing the glamorous trio of actors she has hired to star. So if your notion of sheer cinematic bliss is gazing raptly at Mathieu Carriere or Dominique Sanda (OK, I admit it, mine is) then be warned that Le Navire Night may give you a nasty shock. Long motionless takes of the three actors having their make-up put on or wandering – barely visible – round shadowy rooms. For most of the film, the camera pans along deserted Parisian boulevards, or pores over a luscious red dress hanging on a wall. At the end, Duras announces in voiceover that “the story was never shot.” True, on a purely literal level. Yet the sense of frustrated longing that sustains both non-lovers through their passionate non-affair…if we don’t experience that through the methods Duras uses here, why not? Are we incapable of feeling unless we are prompted by the prescribed visual image? Or are we (as Susan Sontag feared) so saturated by images that we can no longer feel at all? To try and put it more simply, why is Marguerite Duras’ way of telling this story any less valid than the conventional techniques that we, as a film audience, expect and demand? Our answer to that question says little about Duras and her film, and everything about us. Why do we feel the need to reduce an emotional tragedy to a visual image? Is it morally acceptable for a film to do that? At once a negation of cinema as it is, and a reaffirmation of what cinema might be, Le Navire Night is a film to be watched with heart and mind and senses wide open. Or not watched at all.’ — David Melville


Excerpt


Apropos LE NAVIRE NIGHT DE Marguerite DURAS

 

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Aurélia Steiner (Vancouver & Melbourne) (1979)
‘As is the case with other experimental shorts by Marguerite Duras, the images, although beautiful are almost mood-setters, the main images are evoked in the mind of the viewer by the words of Aurelia Steiner, sometimes, though by no means always, synchronising with the images. For example the shot traverses Notre Dame de Paris, which is actually a white building, but here the stone is yellowed by the late-evening sun, and Aurelia talks about voices (“they’re speaking”) telling her of palaces by streams with thickets of nettles and brambles between them, of island temples, and for a moment Notre Dame is on the Ganges. This reminded me the ideas of writer Italo Calvino and his book The Castle Of Crossed Destinies, in which stories are almost exclusively narrated by the placing of Tarot cards in sequences, the evocative symbols (forest, castle, well, mountain, gibbet) being generators of images that are particular to each reader, Calvino accepting how very much of the story rests in just these small kernels. Aurelia Steiner then, will be a unique experience for whoever watches it. In this way it’s almost anti-cinematic, the viewer isn’t forced to see the fixed images that make up the fantasies of standard commercial cinema. In a special edition of Cahiers du Cinema Duras wrote that she was aiming for an ideal, which was of the “image passe-partout”, to use shots that were neither beautiful nor ugly, which would be exchangeable between a series of texts, images that would take their direction from the narration. If she was aiming for images without beauty she would have been better off not using cinematographer Pierre Lhomme, who shot Army of Shadows, and worked with James Ivory and Ismail Merchant. The collaborators do however create a sense of vacuum with the images on-screen, a cavern that Aurelia’s words fill.’ — IMDb


 the entire film

 

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Agatha et les lectures illimitées (1981)
‘This film was recorded in Trouville-sur-Mer, in the lobby of the building where Duras lived. She reads the female part of the text and her much younger lover, Yann Andréa, reads the male part. The dry way of saying the words that express such passionate feelings has inspired much of the tone of Bientôt l’été. Not to mention the views of the sea, and the atmosphere of an abandoned resort town.’ — Tale of Tales


the entire film

 

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L’homme atlantique (1981)
‘An autonomy of the soundtrack, giving back to writing and to the voice of the writer its importance. A black screen with few images from rushes of the previous “Agathe”.’ — MUBI


the entire film

 

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Les enfants (1985)
‘7 year-old boy Ernesto intrigues people around him for several reasons. Despite such a young age, he looks like a man on his 40’s and also seems a little more intelligent than any of his peers – and the latter fact is what causes him to quit school, refusing to attend it because he doesn’t want to learn the things he does not know. His family is very supportive of his actions, even though they don’t have any clue of what’s to become of him; at the same time the school headmaster and a journalist are concerned about Ernesto’s real motivations for leaving school.’ — IMDb


the entire film

 

 

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p.s. Hey. ** Armando, Hi. ** Steve Erickson, The fallout from the Louis C.K. accusations, now admitted, should be especially interesting to watch evolve. Everyone, Steve Erickson has reviewed the deluxe reissue of R.E.M.’s AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE album. Check it out. I was pretty much over REM by the time that one came out. Good reason for a recheck. Pretty hard to believe it’s their pinnacle, though, but I guess it depends on what you think were their strengths, and, hey, apples and oranges. Well, the ‘everyone is really bi’ idea certainly suits gay guys who either like to or can’t seem to help but have sexual fantasies about movie stars and pop stars and stuff or who love trading celebrity gossip and conspiracy theorizing and so on. ** Amphibiouspeter, Hey, not a ton sup, you? She looked almost like that, same hair and style and etc.. for most of her life, as far as I can tell, but those could have come from one photo session. She and her writing are pretty much as witty as folks and ever writing get. Ha ha. I’ve done the catacombs three times, which was two times too many, and I never felt a weird thing, but I don’t think my concentration ever takes the non-visible into account, apart from, you know, smells and music and stuff. I think I generally see the paranormal as, like, a particularly golden kind of fictional material that can be employed in things to create a particularly nice, odd, spooky effect. I have this lifelong ‘no fun’ pragmatic side that clicks on like a smoke detector. Have a blast in Scotland. Where you going,  what are you doing? ** Jeff J, Hi, Jeff, great to see you, man! I saw on FB that you aced your final novel revisions! Yes! Creating a new voice: Generally the first thing I do is strip my voice down to the basics, until it’s almost like speech. I do that in my head, like I try to pay closer attention to how my thoughts literalize and to the way I naturally phrase and edit things I want to say when I’m talking unselfconsciously. Then, to build a new voice, I always wait until I know what I want to write about and how and let that gestate for a bit and focus mentally, and then I start working on how I want the related wordage to manifest. And then I just try things out and experiment freely and have patience with myself, I think. Is that helpful? I haven’t read the Krauss book. I’m kind of wary to, but I will. Everyone I know who knew Kathy really doesn’t like that book and generally thinks it’s too agenda driven, whereas people I know who didn’t know her generally seem to like it. I’m not sure why that Compton-Burnett book is my favorite of hers. I think it’s darkest one, and her always meticulous and amazing prose seems particularly turbulent in that novel, which I really like. The California trip was really good. Gisele says the ‘Crowd’ premiere went very well, but the piece needs a lot more work to be what it’s supposed to be, so we’ll be further refining it in hopes of getting it closer to home between now and the Paris shows in December. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi, David. I hope the event tonight goes really well. Oh, good, yes, I will restore your LaTouche post, and if there are dead things for which I need your help, I’ll let you know. Thanks! ** Sypha, Hi. If you get the right people around you to work with on a film, it can compensate for one’s introversion or social shyness. Zac and I are both hardly extroverts or social bunnies, but that wasn’t really a problem because we had a crew who took care of things we weren’t so good at. Asses rule, and I can imagine that breasts do too, ha ha. The more offbeat the fetish the better, I say. Pouring through the master and slave sites every month looking for slaves is not exactly a chore or sacrifice for me. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! I bet you were exhausted. It sounds totally taxing. Yes, Gisele said the ‘Crowd’ premiere went very well. Presumably she’s right. That means the piece works well even though it’s not at its maximum effectiveness yet, so that’s a relief, if true. Back to the gallery today for you then, but I do hope you get Sunday off. I’ll light a candle. I’m just trying to use this currently not so busy time to get the new film script ready enough to show Zac so we can start serious work on it. That’s my goal du jour. And maybe some art and a concert tonight. How did your weekend treat you? ** Misanthrope, Hi. Yeah, the trick is, or one of the tricks is, to make the dialogue both show rather than tell and also be exciting or intriguing in and of itself at the same time. So you get and feel what the actors are saying, but you also get pleasure and rush from the way they’re saying what they say. Dialogue can work in a multi-level way. It doesn’t seem that difficult to do that, and yet I’m amazed that it’s so very rare, even with otherwise interesting films, to find really well written dialogue. Filmmakers seem to let themselves be lazy about how dialogue works. Big mistake. The dialogue should just as exciting as the visuals and performances and stuff. No, I certainly don’t think being gay means giving up any options. Sweet about your scales’ good news. Weekend plans? ** Keaton, Hey. Yeah, it’s easy for me to say stifled sounds like an exciting challenge when I’m over here zooming around. Nice Paris ghost sighting. Very detailed. There’s this walking tour here you can take that supposedly guides you to and through some of the most ghost-inhabiliting buildings and stuff, and I keep meaning to take it, but it happens at 2 am or something, and I hate staying awake later than 11. Nice, nice thoughts and talk about the bisexuality thing. Huh. Made me think. Is still making me think. Cool. ** Nik, Hi, buddy. Yeah, I am finally non-jetlagged. Took a while. Gisele says the ‘Crowd’ premiere went really well. I wasn’t there, but I’ll see it/check in on it/work further on it very soon. Oh, really, cool, about the video game comparison helping. You probably think about video games like I do. A lot of people don’t think that way. A lot of people say they think the way I think about video games is too nerd on LSD. Good luck acing the one-act, and it’s exciting to imagine you working carefully on it. Yeah, writing a film script feels pretty different than writing fiction, but, at the same time, it doesn’t feel like I’m accessing a different set of skills. The most interesting and challenging part is that I can only be precise with the dialogue, the spoken aspect. Everything else — setting, the characters’ appearances, the trajectory’s rhythm and speed, the way the viewer’s attention span is shaped and manipulated, etc. — can only be a proposal. All of that can only be decided when the available locations are chosen and the casting finished, and, in my case, once Zac has decided how he thinks the script should effectively visualized. It’s very interesting to try to make the speech/dialogue focus and shape that unknown, overall thing that the film will ultimately be. I don’t know, does that make sense? I can try to say more or talk more precisely to whatever decisions or dilemmas you have with your work if you want. Thanks, man. Great weekend! ** Okay. For those for whom this weekend’s post might be causing deja vu, there was a post on my murdered blog about Duras’ films, and I was going to restore it, but I thought it was kind of crappy as well as festooned with dead video embeds, so I just made a new post on that very same topic, if it matters. See you on Monday.

15 Comments

  1. David Ehrenstein

    Thanks for using my article to kick off this Duras weekend. it’s a shame so little of her work is available on home video — particularly “India Song.” But as you can see there’s a lot on You Tube. Duras’ chief cinematic innovation is to privilege the soundtrack over the image. The sheer poetic intensity of her language usage is intoxicating. Most curious is her elevation of Fag-Hag-dom to a State of Grace. She saw her relationship with Yann Andrea as The Absolute Romantic Ideal. He was a gay man disappointed in love as the object of his affection turned out to be straight. In his despair he turned to Duras for solace and affirmation — and got it in spades. He was so close to her that he recorded her last spoken word and had them published as a book — “C’est Tout” He died not all that long after she passed.

  2. Steve Erickson

    I sometimes do google searches on terms like “out gay actors” because Gay City News wants me to list all openly LGBT participants in the films I review, and I had no idea, for instance, that the star of the last Dardenne brothers film THE UNKNOWN GIRL is lesbian or that Kristen Stewart is now openly bisexual when I wrote about PERSONAL SHOPPER. (Neither did my editor, obviously, or he would’ve added this.) But this sometimes leads me to lengthy lists of supposedly closeted actors, and a lot of fantasizing seems to go into them – they seem to be a mixture of people who have long been rumored about like Tom Cruise, Queen Latifah and John Travolta, really cute guys and actors who have either played gay roles, said gay-friendly things in interviews or are not conventionally masculine. Rumors about gay rappers seem to follow the same pattern – there are tons of websites claiming Kanye West and Drake are gay, probably because they’re not hyper-macho and don’t say “faggot” constantly (or ever, as far as I know), but no one seems to think that Rick Ross is compensating for anything with his completely fictional persona as a cocaine kingpin who scores with dozens of women when he’s not busy killing his rivals (and his highly controversial verse about slipping molly in a woman’s drink and raping her while stoned, although he phrased it more euphemistically.)

  3. Armando

    VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE ONE AND ONLY, MY HERO WHOM I LOVE SO FUCKING MUCH; MR. LEONARDO DICAPRIO HIMSELF!!! <3 <3 <3 I LOVE YOU, L.!!!

    • Misanthrope

      11/11/74….Never Forget! 😀

  4. Chaim Hender

    Howdy,

    I must’ve commented yesterday at the exact same moment you were going live with the new post, so I thought I’d cut and paste:

    I saw you wrote a few days ago about wishing you’d run into Wes Anderson and I thought I’d share a story.

    A few years ago in Chicago, my friend and I knew Wes Anderson was doing an event in town, but we couldn’t find tickets. Instead, we went to the Art Institute . As we were entering the Miniature Rooms gallery, my friend told me that he read in an interview somewhere that Anderson loves the Miniature Rooms and tries to visit whenever he’s in Chicago. Sure enough, we ran into him and his entourage. My friend’s more of a movie buff than I am so he recognized Roman Coppola.

    We sheepishly introduced ourselves to Anderson, trying to toe the line between dorky and pushy fanboyishness. Anderson is one of the gentlest and most reserved people I’ve ever met. I probably felt the closest ever to what I imagine it would feel like to meet Wilde. He was very grateful for our kind words about his work, gave us tickets to the event later in the afternoon, and (after some pressing) spoke with us a little bit about how he’s enchanted by slight differences in decor between miniatures that are close in the times and places they portray.

    I’ve posted here a few times before as “Corey Heiferman” but I’ve been going by my Hebrew name “Chaim” ever since I emigrated from Western Massachusetts to Tel Aviv two weeks ago. For the first time in years I feel like the world is full of possibilities in every area of life. I’d be interested in anything you have to say about the joys and frustrations of starting anew as an expat from USA.

  5. Dóra Grőber

    Hi!

    I’m so, so happy to hear the premiere went well! Congratulations!
    Did you manage to show Zac the film script? Ah, and what kind of art and/or concert did you see?
    My Saturday workday was a merciful one; it was mostly quiet. And I finally have a day off today so I’m doing… exactly nothing, haha. I’m just listening to music and reading and watching series all day and it’s super nice. I needed some alone-time before I go back tomorrow.
    I hope you had a lovely weekend too, Dennis!!

  6. Steve Erickson

    I followed up my homemade iTunes Bowie remix playlist by downloading Prince remixes and rarities from YouTube yesterday (although I had two songs from a Twitter friend who used to do a blog where he posted rarities by Bowie, Neil Young, Television and other artists – he has a huge collection of Prince bootlegs and was about to launch another blog posting them when Warner Bros. threatened to sue him and he took down all his blogs containing rare and unreleased music.) I haven’t put it all together as one playlist yet, but I have about 70 minutes of music now.

    I spent 75 minutes talking today with the actor whom I have cast in my next film. He seems like a very nice and smart guy, He dislikes the fact that he has gotten typecast as serial killers and appeared in many horror films. There’s a lengthy passage in the script where the character talks about his experience acting on a TV cop show that goes into detail about the nature of acting, and basically I mixed stuff I’ve learned from directing actors and interviewing them with my own imaginings about what it would be like to pretend to be someone completely different from myself. I talked with him about that, and he said that he likes playing people who are different from him because it’s a chance to escape from his daily life and his own identity.

    I am seeing MY FRIEND DAHMER, a film about Jeffrey Dahmer’s high school years, tonight. It’s based on a graphic novel (by one of Dahmer’s real-life classmates) that I haven’t read, and it’s supposed to be very creepy and disturbing without exactly being a horror film. Did you see the Dahmner biopic that came out circa 2000? It’s not very good, despite starring Jeremy Renner, who looks a great deal like him? One actor I approached several years ago sent me a short film in which he plays a serial killer obviously based on Dahmer.

    • Bill

      Curious to hear what you think about My Friend Dahmer, Steve. It was probably the oddest film I’ve seen at Frameline in years.

      Bill

    • Misanthrope

      Steve, I mentioned this Dahmer movie a bit ago on here. The lead is a former Disney star, Ross Lynch. Those kids run away from Disney as fast as they can when they get the chance.

  7. _Black_Acrylic

    Interesting to learn about Duras’s film career, which I was unaware of until now. I’ll try and track some of these down or failing that, to get them streamed.

    Friday night’s mini Yuck ‘n Yum AGK karaoke event at the NEoN festival went down well. It was in this really huge freezing cold industrial building and we were in a cage type thing just off the main room. We got a warm reception and good participation. I took this photo of Alexandra singing along to Total Eclipse Of The Heart.

    I got some bad news earlier that day though, in that my funding application from the Dundee Visual Artists Award scheme got knocked back. It was to book a flight for Alex to help install the Seattle show in April, but yeah it was all rushed and I realise now it should really have been him who applied. Annoying as I thought it was nailed on but anyway, I’ll try figure out some other way to get him over there.

  8. Nik

    Hey!

    How’s your weekend been? Really great to hear “Crowd” went well, do you know how you want to move forward with the dialogue?
    I had no idea how prolific Duras was as a director. I’m vaguely familiar with her work, having only read Malady of Death and seen Hiroshima, Mon Amour. Some of these look interesting, I’ll have to make some time to really get acquainted with her films.
    Honestly, I only recently got back into videogames as a pass time. It used to be all I did growing up practically, and come high school I thought I’d “grown out of them”. Suddenly in college there has to be at least an hour dedicated to Katamari every week haha.
    I get what you’re saying about the dialogue shaping that unknown thing, that’s definitely what a lot of this editing process has been for me. So far editing’s been shaving off all sorts of exposition, in an attempt to let the story speak for itself without the hokey confrontational bits spoiling the whole thing. The scripts better for it, I just really hope that the piece is still actually about something, if that makes any sense.

    Hope you have a good week!

  9. Bill

    Hey Dennis, will definitely check out some of Duras’ films; haven’t seen any of them, I’m embarrassed to say.

    It’s been one of those distracting weekends. I’ve just barely started organizing the early 80s/90s SF art punk post. Will try to make more progress soon.

    Just started Mariana Enriquez’s stories; a blast so far:
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30375706-things-we-lost-in-the-fire

    Bill

  10. Misanthrope

    Dennis, I’m like Ben: never knew Duras had a career as a filmmaker too. Interesting.

    I agree with everything you said about dialogue. Yeah, I think it’s part laziness and probably part that we’ve been taught -or it’s been implied- for so long that dialogue isn’t actually action. Or something like that.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about Call Me by Your Name, which I just finished reading. Something dawned on me: there’s no way Aciman isn’t very aware of your work. The themes are pretty much the same and there’s a riff of a scene that I’m sure was in one of your books or essays…or maybe even that you just mentioned here. (I’m thinking it might have been in Ugly Man, can’t quite remember.) The difference, of course, is that his take on the same things is the opposite of yours. Almost an anti-Cooper novel in a weird sort of way. Hmm…

    Of course, I could be totally wrong about this, hahaha. That happens quite frequently.

    Ah, my weekend? Very laid back. Listened to a lot of music, ate some decent food, watched some football, scoured the net looking for clips of upcoming movies, etc. Got a fair amount of good sleep. A good weekend, in my opinion.

    How was yours?

  11. Keaton

    Buzzing indeed! I’m not stifled really, just need to make better living
    arrangements. As a good friend of mine used to say, “Ain’t
    nobody gonna beat my ass.” My creativity is flowing and can see itself,
    if blushing in the mirror. That ghost experience gets worse, it was
    was just bad all around. Haha, youre not missing much in your town.
    All the bars above the ground kick me out and the ones below think I’m
    weird. I do better with the streets in Paris, it was the most amazing feeling
    to get lost in the Marais and end up at sunrise on Montemartre, a pocket full
    of glory and that wonderful fountain up there with the kids under it. Haha,
    bisexual, I love the word, its so manly. My teen girlfriends handed me acid and
    a Burroughs biography and said get to it. I just went with it. Have to say
    post IT-boy, and post-testing, I’m over the sex discourses. I try to explain
    the sex-obsession is a new thing, but no one understands as they slop around
    the old AIDs rag. I like Lacans lack/drive/object theory the best for sexual
    objects. It’s awful when I realize what the fundamental fantasy really looks like!
    Hehe. Really enjoyed Duras Golden Fruits, the only book with orange pages I own.
    Salut

  12. Sypha

    Dennis, yes, in a way asses and boobs are somewhat similar looking… one could almost say that breasts are the asses of the chest, just without the alimentary canal (I promise I’m not stoned right now).

    Have you ever read anything by C.J. Bradbury Robinson? A few months back I came across an interesting web article detailing his friendship with William S. Burroughs, and how Burroughs wrote an introduction for his novel Williams Mix back in the early 70’s (which I guess was supposed to be released by Olympia, but it never happened). It seems that Robinson sells his books through his website now, but I don’t know anyone else who has read his work (even Goodreads seems to have almost no reviews at all) so I want to get another opinion before I plonk down any money on them (as they’re kind of pricey). I only ask you because I know you had a day about him on this blog a few years back (along with a few other writers, though I forget the other ones you showcased that day), which leads me to believe you’re somewhat familiar with his work.

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