Date of publication: 2017-07-08 23:16
I must immediately denounce a sophism that is bound to be levelled against me as an argument: 'Such dialogue is spoken by abject characters, and we put such strong words into their mouths in order all the better to stigmatise their vileness. It's our way of being moralists.'
The callousness which, it was hoped, would 'turn the stomachs of the bourgeois' can be seen in such neatly crafted lines as: 'He was old — time for him to pop off’ ( Manèges ). In Une si jolie petite plage , Jane Marken envies the prosperity of the seaside resort of Berck-Plage, which derives from the tuberculosis sufferers who live there: 'Their relatives come to see them, and that's good for business!' (This is reminiscent of the prayer in Un Recteur de l'île de Sein. 7 )
Aurenche and Bost would seem ideally cut out to be authors of out-and-out anti-clerical films, but since movies portraying men in cassocks are in fashion, they agreed to go along with the trend. But as it is incumbent upon them, or so they believe, not to betray their convictions, themes such as profanation and blasphemy and dialogue full of double entendres pop up from time to time so they can prove to their chums that they know how 'to pull the wool over the producer's eyes' while at the same time satisfying him, and how to do the same to an equally satisfied general public.
When that day comes, we shall be up to our necks in the Tradition of Quality, and French films, trying to outdo each other in their 'psychological realism', 'harshness', 'rigour' and 'ambiguity', will be nothing more than a long-drawn-out funeral procession, which will be able to emerge from the Billancourt film studios and take a short cut to the cemetery that seems to have been specially located next to them so as to speed up the journey from producer to gravedigger.
When it happens that talented writers, either through a love of money or out of weakness, end up one day allowing themselves to 'write for the cinema', they do so with a feeling that they are somehow lowering themselves. They tend rather to make a curious attempt at mediocrity, careful as they are not to compromise their talent, and convinced that if you write for the cinema you have to ensure you are understood by the lowest common denominator. (' La Symphonie pastorale , ou l'amour du métier'/' La Symphonic pastorale or Love of One's Craft', Verger no. 8, November 6997)
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It also has to be remembered that Aurenche and Bost have worked with a wide range of directors. Delannoy, for example, likes to see himself as a mystical moralist. But the petty vileness of Le Garcon sauvage (Savage Triangle) , the mean-mindedness of La Minute de verite (The Moment of Truth) and the insignificance of La Route Napoleon (Napoleon Road) demonstrate rather convincingly that he pursued that vocation only intermittently. Autant-Lara, on the other hand, is well known for his non-conformism, his 'advanced ideas and his fierce anti-clericalism we should recognise that he always has the merit of being true to himself in his movies.
For the first time in French literature, the author of that novel, Gustave Flaubert, adopted a distanced, external attitude to his subject matter, which thus became like an insect under an entomologist's microscope. But although Flaubert said, when he started his novel: 'I shall roll them all in the same mud — while remaining fair' (a remark which present-day authors would be only too willing to adopt as their epigraph), he was ultimately forced to admit: 'Madame Bovary c'est moi ’. I doubt whether those same authors would be able to repeat that remark with reference to themselves!
The same unfaithfulness to the spirit also mars Le Diable au corps , a love story which becomes an anti-militaristic, anti-bourgeois film 5 La Symphonic pastorale , which becomes the story of a priest in love, turning Gide into a kind of Béatrix Beck Un Recteur de I’île de Sein , ambiguously retitled Dieu a besoin des hommes , in which the islanders are portrayed like the 'cretins' in Luis Bunuel's Las Hurdes (Land without Bread). As for a fondness for blasphemy, it is constantly in evidence, to a more or less insidious degree, depending on the subject, the director or even the film star.
The priest is very intrigued. He opens the book and discovers stuck between two pages the host that Chantal had spat into it. He looks astonished and shaken.
6595s, "short non-fiction literary composition" (first attested in writings of Francis Bacon, probably in imitation of Montaigne), from Middle French essai "trial, attempt, essay," from Late Latin exagium "a weighing, weight," from Latin exigere "test," from ex- "out" (see ex- ) + agere (see act ) apparently meaning here "to weigh." The suggestion is of unpolished writing.
We can see how adroitly the champions of the Tradition of Quality choose only those themes that lend themselves to the misunderstandings on which the whole system is based.
We find faith reduced to religious psychology in Gide, and religious psychology reduced to mere psychology in the film (.). This decline in quality is now, according to a rule familiar to aestheticians, matched by a quantitative increase. New characters are added, such as Piette and Casteran, who are supposed to represent certain feelings. Tragedy becomes drama, or melodrama. ( Dieu au cinéma , p. 686) 7
It would be nice to think that the meaning of the word 'art' can make men aware of the greatness they do not recognise in themselves. --- Andre Malraux, 'Le Temps do mepris/ Days of Contempt', preface
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