Archive for Monsieur et Madame Curie

Quote of the Day: Thou Shalt Not

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2008 by dcairns

‘When I shot LES YEUX SANS VISAGE I was told: “No sacrilege because of the Spanish market, no nudes because of the Italian market, no blood because of the French market and no martyrised animals because of the English market.” And I was supposed to be making a horror film!’

Georges Franju, quoted in Franju by Raymond Durgnat.

I found a copy! It looks excellent. Now if only I could find copies of all the films listed. I already have EYES WITHOUT A FACE and BLOOD OF THE BEASTS, of course, and some rarities — JUDEX, for instance, and an unsubtitled VHS of LA TÊTE CONTRE LES MURS. Ever since I’ve known David Wingrove there’s been a plan afoot for him to translate it for me sometime, but he watched it in preparation and I don’t think he was that keen. I also have SHADOWMAN, which is sort of fun but not really a worthy companion to JUDEX.


But what I’d really like to get is the short films. As good as some of the features are (and EYES is some kind of masterpiece), the best Franju I’ve seen is BLOOD OF THE ANIMALS, and I’m tantalised by the possibility that some of the other shorts — LE GRAND MÉLIÈS, HÔTEL DES INVALIDES, MONSIEUR ET MADAME CURIE — might be equal to it, or even close. I have a vague idea that I’ve seen one of them, LE MÉTRO, long ago, without knowing what it was — perhaps only in a dream.

It’s interesting that Durgnat points out Franju’s relation to the Nouvelle Vague: a colleague of Henri Langlois, “he made what is in effect a first short film a year after Resnais’ VAN GOGH, and his first feature at the same time as HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR,” before asserting Franju’s closer ties with the older generation. And indeed, asides from the lively interview clips of old Georges looking satanic, included on the Criterion DVD of EYES, the only footage I’ve seen of him is in an old BBC documentary on Marcel Carné. Asked if he agreed with the Cahiers filmmakers assessment of Carné’s works, he characterises them as a bunch of “côns” and argues in no uncertain terms that nothing they have made themselves could hold a candle to LES ENFANTS DU PARADIS.

So, despite the iconoclastic and surreal qualities of his work, Franju was more of the old school. This makes it ironic that he’s been played by Jean-Pierre Léaud in the recent fact-based drama I SAW BEN BARKA GET KILLED, but the casting seems auspicious: there’s definitely a physical resemblance, and Léaud has the same kind of furious intensity, a suppressed mania, that you see in Franju’s staring eyes.