My Gleanings

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Positif at Cahiers -- Robert Benayoun and Louis Seguin Dec. 1961

In their annual year-end special issue in December 1961, Cahiers du Cinema spotlighted "La Critique" (Criticism). The issue featured the responses of 36 French film critics to a battery of 14 questions asked by Cahiers. Question 14 was, "Speaking frankly, what to you is the contribution -- positive or negative -- of Cahiers du Cinema?". Among those who replied were 4 Positif regulars. What follows is my translation of the reaction of two of those Positif critics - Robert Benayoun and Louis Seguin.

Robert Benayoun (page 56)
On a critical plane, Cahiers du Cinema has made a negative contribution. They contradict themselves too often. Their extreme (and markedly useful) positions on Hitchcock, Rossellini, Donen, Huston, Bunuel, Anthony Mann and others have received throughout the years refutations too obvious for a guest to twist the knife in the wound intra-muros. No worthwhile theory has emerged there, no precise tendency has arisen there. Three schools of illusionists have exercised their powers there, destroying each time the preceding thesis.
On the other hand, on the plane of present expression, Cahiers has unquestionably encouraged the accession to direction of several talented directors, such as Philippe de Broca and Jacques Demy, The emphasis which at 146 Champs Elysées has been placed on the school of direction has in the end led to a new kind of Maecenas, confidential and semi-masonic which has clearly changed the situation of French cinema. From this crucible, films of often contradictory styles have emerged which demonstrate less a real viewpoint than an indeed new method. Alas, this method, greatly limited, seems to have already seen its day.

Louis Seguin (page 81)
Little of any good, put apart from some "interviews". I do not even believe that Cahiers has contributed anything whatever.
But why your misgivings? Are your critics so faint-hearted, so overwhelmed by a threat that is rather powerless to not dare to speak "frankly" here?

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