In the middle of the last of these three conversations, Margaret Doras said to Godard, “But you live in condemnation, Jean-Luc.” This is not entirely unexpected, because it was clear from the start that these conversations were not just about craft, techniques, writing and filmmaking, but that these conversations had an irrational mystical character. She worries about him, this is the gesture of motherhood.
They have nothing to say to each other, not in the simple and classic sense of dialogue, and they express it clearly, Margaret Doras, the writer who, in the prime of her fame, began directing films from her script or writing. Texts as movies on the spot, and Jean-Luc Godard, the filmmaker whose films live on parts of the literary world in which he built it.
Two French institutions, selfish, and imbecile. Two stars from France’s cultural scene who have learned to navigate public spaces, but are hesitant to talk to each other, want to avoid the impression of a professional plot.
There is respect and adoration on both sides, plus a bit of adulation
They met three times between 1979 and 1987, and the three talks are now also available in German. They are annoying, spoilers, and weird, too. The bewilderment in which they end up again and again is fruitful, as the original dialogue Socrates had intended. There is respect and adoration on both sides, plus a bit of adulation. But also unwavering insistence.
The book is included in two texts by the editor, Cyril Begin, and he accompanies the dialogues with countless comments that are helpful in all respects. When the two reach the point, Béghin rips open it again by putting the strings into appropriate contexts, in Duras or Godard. A convoluted dialogue growing out there, a rhizome that reminds us of the way Roland Barthes built his books.
It took a specific reason to lure Doras out. Godard did so when he requested their collaboration in October 1979 for his movie “Sauve qui peut (la vie)”. After years of retreating (to television, to political work in a group, to various countries in Europe and the world, to the world of work, to new electronic media), he wanted to return to the cinema, to the screen.
He had seen Doras’ Le Camion when she was sitting with Gerard Depardieu at a table in their Neauphle-le-Château and they were reading a movie script with the traveler and a truck driving around the country at night. A purely projective film in the state of creation. Another form ContinuationThat is still on its way to a completed narrative.
“It takes effortless choppy photos. Your insides become visible.”
Doras was supposed to speak about “Sauve qui peut …” in one of the lessons, but then she did not want to appear in front of the class and stayed in the next room. Godard then compensated for the rejected conversation of his own accord, which led to the first dialogue. Parts of it and the entire absurd situation are based on “Sauve qui peut …”. Jack Dutronk plays a filmmaker named Paul Godard in the movie. His girlfriend is Denise Rambo, played by Natalie Bay.
Denise is busy on her bike, in search of a book. Frida Graf wrote in 1981. “Godard stops the flow of images in slow motion and by expanding the easel.” Distressed photos pick up effort. Their insides become visible – what is ingested in another way so that the illusion of continuity in service arises the narrative … perhaps it becomes Work in progress Never a book, because part of defining the imagination is that its creative impulse does not translate into things. “
The second meeting between Doras and Godard was a year later, when it came to a possible project on the topic of incest. Doras openly narrates how desire was between her brothers and siblings, and addresses the psychological and social dimensions of the problem – how the incest taboo relates to the origin of bartering. The third meeting was in December 1987, on the TV show “Océaniques”, this dialogue, which was recorded in Doras’ apartment in Paris, closely corresponds to the coordination of the artist’s speech, but they dismantled the form and institution of the television with him. They make the dialogue machine vibrate and stutter.
Sartre is “the Solzhenitsyn of a country without labor camps,” says Doras
Doras continues to ask specific questions in these dialogues, Godard likes to give vague answers. She wants to lure him out of the reserve and already knows he doesn’t have any. She asks if he has read to her “Vice Consul” or “In Search of Lost Time.” Godard recounts his attempts to mobilize Faulkner’s “Absalom, Absalom” and what Sartre intended for him. On the other hand, Doras argues that he was not a writer, “Solzhenitsyn for a country without a camp,” Duras could be that difficult.
Then Godard admitted that he was so pissed off that he once put people like Jan Delaney and Steven Spielberg – they’re not filmmakers, just filmmakers. They also have differing opinions about Claude Lanzmann’s “Holocaust.” Godard believes the film came too late after the end of the Holocaust. Doras tries to explain to him why he is not allowed to film “The Beau”, a recent bestseller, and whether he is serious about filming Kierkegaard’s “Diaries of the Seductress”.
Godard says I love words, they are like goblins. “But with you or Beckett, they are kings.” But he does not want to know anything about the secrets of writing from Doras, he appreciates it because it came to the cinema from abroad. That was cool about Nouvelle Vague, the way he loved and championed writers from the start who were fascinated by cinema and who made movies themselves.
At the time, bourgeois criticism had only drawn attention to amateur writers, Sasha Gitri and Marcel Baniol, Jean Cocteau and Doras – Godard and his friends loved them because they showed that there is no such thing as pure cinema, and cinema is always impure. Godard wrote in one of his enthusiastic early reviews about one of the two American directors who taught him pictures and sounds that everything is cinematic, but he sighed after that, maybe it was not all cinema.
They both want to free the word from the context of the meaning
Cinema and literature, Godard and Doras, are like the prologue and posterior of a medal that neither one talks to the other. Godard’s words – as you know from countless films and interviews – contradict these dialogues with the Duras stuffing. They have the same resonance space, especially when Doras speaks her sentences by herself, because it makes her speak in slow motion, and verbal extension of the pregnant woman.
They both want to free the word from the context of the meaning, which concerns only the content, to return it to arbitrariness. And preventing pictures from slipping to the same rhetorical level. “Nothing is less than the political rhetoric of the authority … that is, the language of political shopkeepers, the language of propaganda. Wonderful comedians. Nothing contradicts the real word any more.”
He hasn’t really read the books that Godard brings to his films; It is traversed like a landscape on a train. The volatility that Doras mentions could be a deficit for men in general. She says that there is something in writing, “In principle, in its definition, this is intolerable to you, something that attracts you and makes you flee, something intolerable. You do not stand up to what is written.” Cinema is fragile, Godard knows that himself, only a camera tripod will have three legs and a limp three-legged animal.
Do you feel cold? Doras asks, after a break from the TV show, when Godard reaches out across the table. No, he says, I just wanted to touch your hand … your hands were tied together for a moment. You have to read these dialogues as a stage show, free game, or practical modern thinking – in France they are actually played on stage by the actors. You should hear the two talking, remember their voices, and watch the accompanying films, “Le camion” and “Sauve qui peut … (la vie)” https://www.sueddeutsche.de/kultur/. “In my films, no one speaks, only voices,” says Doras.
Margaret Doras, Jean-Luc Godard: Dialogues. With an introduction, notes and a conclusion by Cyril Begin and input from Jean Clyder. Translated from the French by Tim Terzascalec. Spector Books, Leipzig 2021.223 pages, 16 €.