My Gleanings

Friday, April 27, 2007

Jacques Becker Interview- Cahiers du Cinema Feb 54

In February 1954, in the middle of the period over the winter of '53-'54 when the elements that made Cahiers du Cinema what it was coalesced, that magazine printed its first taped interview, an interview of Jacques Becker which was conducted by Jacques Rivette and François Truffaut. This is a short excerpt from that interview.

Interviewer -- There seems to be in your work Casque d'or the conscious will to recreate, to reinvent the gestures of the epoque: the gestures of Gaston Modot, the stance of the dancers. . .

Jacques Becker -- Yes, there is a pre-WW I aspect to the behaviour of people. Even the actors who are no more than 30 or 40 years old, thanks to the costumes which we have tried to make simple (they are not operetta-like), thanks to the moustaches, since the actors have real moustaches, recall a little of the gestures, attitudes, physical behaviour which they observed in their grandparents when they were children. As well, for Simone Signoret's method. We got it together real smoothly.

Interviewer -- But this "childhood memory" aspect, isn't it also found in the dialogue? There are many schoolchild-like inflexions.

Jacques Becker -- That this dialogue is very linear,if not to say rudimentary and extremely economic must be taken inot account: Reggiani, for example, utters only about sixty or so words -- but it is not at all improvised. It was spoken as written. . .

Interviewer -- But it had been written. . . Jacques Becker -- Contingent on the play of the scene, of course. Since I wrote while seeing the scenes, I had the charcters say the minimum things necessary for the understanding of the situation. It is in as much as it was written by a director that there is that tone. . . do you understand? A character enters, there are two guys who are waiting for him. He gestures to go back outside and says, "I'm coming back". There is no need to say anything else. "I'm coming back". that is the end of it. Scenarist-dialoguists never get the idea to be happy with that. But, if they wrote the dialogue while cutting directly as I did for Casque d'or, they could not draw out the dialogue at leisure. When you direct, you write dialogue sparingly because you look give the most of life and truth possible to the direction and acting; thus you are constantly obliged to review the text right on the set. In the studio, when you suddenly feel that a phrase sounds awkward out of the mout of the actor, it must be sorted out to redo it for him so that it is spoken naturally. (page 13)

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Blogger craig keller. said...

Your blog is stupendous, absolutely marvelous. I'll try to link to it soon on Masters of Cinema.


27/4/07 23:33  

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