Archive for Marguerite Duras

So illusion.

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on December 15, 2008 by dcairns
Awhile back I posted some vague thoughts about 10.30 PM SUMMER, a 1966 Jules Dassin film written by Marguerite Duras which I love, although nobody else ever had much positive to say about it. To my delight, the YouTube clip I put up attracted a very unusual response — Isabel Maria Perez Garcon, who appeared in the film, aged 7, as the daughter of Peter Finch and Melina Mercouri, and who had never seen the film since it had never been released in Spain, got in touch asking if I could provide her with a copy.
I could!
Being nothing if not mercenary, I did require her to answer a few questions, however. Isabel kepy apologising for her English and I kept assuring her that it added character and was a good thing.
Thanks for answer me. I am very happy for your offer. If your copy is in french with no subtitles, don’t worry. We played two versions, one in english and one in french.
-For some reason the English version hasn’t been released in America, just the French one with English subtitles! Anyhow, I have a French copy. I’ll burn a disc and if you give me an address I’ll post it as soon as I can.

I would be enchanted to answer your questions about my work in this film. Then I was seven years old, but I remember many things of those days. Only there is a problem, my english is not very good, but I hope that I apologize.
-That’s OK. I can edit it and fix it for my blog, if you prefer, but I don’t mind leaving it as it is. It proves you’re real!
Thanks for your kindness. I look forward to the DVD, makes me so ilusion!
Of course you can ask everything you want, I try to answer them all, as best as I can.
Now you have a friend in spain for what you need.
I’m sorry, I can’t express myself better, just hope it can understand. You can edit it and fix it or not, as you prefer.
Well, here is the interview.
-Was this your first film? How did you get the part?
Yes, this was my first film, but I worked in TV since 4 years old.
When Jules Dassin arrived in Spain looking for a girl for the character of Judith,
 my agent got me an interview with Mr. Dassin and had to like my way of being,
 because I was the chosen
The three lead actors, Finch, Mercouri and Schneider, are an interesting team.
What are your memories of them?
Of course, they were very interesting. I remember with a special affection for Melina and Peter.
They were very affectionate with me. Peter played continuously with me, he was a man of great tenderness.
Melina to think that I am listening her personal voice saying: BRAVO ISABEL, BRAVO.
Always, when we finished a take, repeating the same thing: BRAVO ISABEL, BRAVO.
Also she was very affectionate, very warm, very mediterranean.
And finally Romy, she was a very reserved woman, very introverted.  She did not speak much with me,
but I remember an anecdote: I had very thirsty and we were about to shoot a scene,
while Dassin gave the typical orders: camera, shooting, action; I said in a low voice that had thirst.
My father was next to the operator, but he don’t  brought me water for not stop work.
Romy was then angered, herself stopped the shooting and immediately brought me water.
Another day we were filming a scene in which Romy and I are lying on a mattress on the floor,
when a flag of which are used to sift the light of the foci fell on us, It  just grazing me a bit in the head,
 but it fell on Romy’s nose, causing a tremendous bleeding and a huge swelling who kept away from
the shooting for several days.
The person who interests me most is the director, Jules Dassin. How did you get on with him?
Mr. Dassin, as I called him it was very nice, very affectionate too,
 he and Melina, his wife,care and pamper me a lot. I spoke with he in English.
The producer put me a particular teacher, she helped prepare the English text
and accompanied me to the filming.
Jules Dassin was a man of great personality. I was absolutely fascinated by those
huge blue eyes and hair that stirred up completely white
-I suppose the reason you never got to see the film at the time is that it’s quite adult. The plot involves adultery, etc. How much did you understand about the story when you were making it?
Though obviously with seven years old had not been able to see the movie, the real reason is that the movie
never came out in Spain. At that time, for censorship and in democracy … I don’t know why.
In that moment I just knew the argument was coming from an English family holiday to spain with a friend
and my mother” was helping a murderer escape. I  never read the script, I just studied my part,
so I did not know the full story.
Any other memories of shooting the film?
I remember the terrible cold that we spent during the filming, because though the story is
in summer, we filming in January. The production’s car came to pick me at 6:30 A.m.
and we were going to the shooting, which was often quite distant from Madrid.
 I loved the smell of makeup in the early morning, have my own caravan to relax in the outdoor filming
my assistant and my own dual lights.
That was a world very different from the TV that was the only one who knew so far and I liked a lot
Thank you again for everything, from heart.


“I like your English, even if it has faults. It’s individual!”

   You have a great sense of humor.

Eating Duras

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2008 by dcairns

Everybody who’s done the long-haul film festival thing will have experienced screenings where they suddenly realise they’re too tired to take in what’s happening on the screen. I got tired just a few days into the E.I.F.F. but now I seem to be floating along on a cloud of cinema, still exhausted (I fell asleep this morning and was nearly late for Jeanne Moreau’s L’ADOLESCENTE) but unable to really feel it.

At the screening of Marguerite Duras’ NATHALIE GRANGER yesterday, I had a different problem. It was noon, and I hadn’t eaten that morning, and suddenly I found myself famished. The film is, on the surface, extremely uneventful, following Lucia Bosé and Jeanne Moreau as they float around Duras’ house in capes, do housework, listen to the news, and talk on the phone (but not so much to each other, face to face). As with many “avant garde” films, one is able to think one’s own thoughts, influenced by the film, rather than being completely wrapped up in an unfolding narrative and thinking only the movie’s thoughts.

This led to an unusual viewing experience for me, since what I was thinking about desperately was food. How I would never go anywhere without a snack again. And how I would like to climb up on the screen like Buster Keaton in SHERLOCK JNR and eat the food on it. That apple is the size of a refrigerator! It’s grey, this being a b&w film, but what the hell. People in b&w movies live on grey food and it doesn’t seem to do them any harm. I guess the skin of the apple would be pretty thick, hard to break through, and the surface curves too gently for a person to bit into it. But I could throw my arms around the apples and smell it and maybe cut a piece off with a knife, if I could find one small enough to lift. Or wait until a longshot appears, and the apples are a more normal size.

A baguette the size of a couch! I could break through the crust and crawl inside, tearing at the soft flesh of the bread and cramming it into my mouth, entering the bread and curling up inside, protected by the brittle carapace of the crust and pillowed by fluffy loaf-matter.

Anyhow, that’s what the film made me think of.

EXCEPT for the sudden burst of — what? comedy? — as a painfully young Gerard Depardieu shambles in, and attempts to sell the ladies a washing machine. The youthful Depardieu is always a startling sight for those who know the beefy lummox of today. That impossibly long, strange face, apparently assembled in armature form out of leg-bones, then covered in a translucent coating of unborn calf skin and decorated with a mop. Yet it speaks! And attempts to sell a Vedetta-Tabard washing machine. The ladies stare coolly at Mr. D., giving nothing back as he sweats and stutters his way through a prolonged, incoherent sales pitch. Finally, utterly defeated, he goes to look at their present washing machine. He staggers back, somehow EVEN MORE defeated. “It’s a Vedetta-Tabard,” he mutters, aghast at the cruelty.

Coming out of my ears.

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2008 by dcairns

Wednesday morning I bussed up to Edinburgh Filmhouse for the official launch of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. It was nice seeing some old friends, like Scottish Screen’s Becky Lloyd, whose new baby tried to gum my finger off, Mary Gordon, Shona Thomson, Kristin Loeer, Robert Glassford — and then there was the festival programme as well.

The Jeanne Moreau retrospective includes most of the things I’d want it to, although not her Lillian Gish documetary, and there’s been no mention of Moreau attending. It’d be be a shame if that doesn’t happen. I’m particularly keen to see Joseph Losey’s EVA on the big screen, and Demy’s LA BAIE DES ANGES. Duras’ NATHALIE GRANGER is one of the more obscure films screening, which I should be sure and catch.

New films from John Maybury, Werner Herzog, Errol Morris (who’s attending), Gillian Armstrong, Andrei Konchalovsky, Bill Plympton, Ole Bornedal, Bernard Rose, Terence Davies, Cedric Klapisch, Wayne Wang, Lucky McKee, Shane Meadows, Olivier Assayas, Brad Anderson, plus shorts and lots of films from people I never heard of. I’m going to try and see as many as I can.

Two people from my circle, or intersecting circles — Martin Radich, whom I know, and Chris Waitt, whom I haven’t met, also have features showing.

And there’s Pixar’s WALL-E, and a FEARS OF THE DARK (pictured), a French animation created by Charles Burns (who illustrated the cover of the issue of The Believer I’m in!), which looks rather beautiful.

Appearances by cinematographers Brian Tufano, Christopher Doyle, Seamus McGarvey, Roger Deakins, and actor Brian Cox and stop-motion monster legend Ray Harryhausen (THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS). Fiona squealed in excitement at the thought of the last-named, even though we’ve seen him interviewed in person before.

skeletal army

On that very special occasion, Ray H produced a few of his miniature creations (the skeleton came in a little coffin), and suddenly every child in the cinema was down in front of the auditorium to be close to them. I think we may have been amongst them.