My Gleanings

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jean-Luc Godard tribute to Jacques Becker April 1960

The April 1960 issue of Cahiers du Cinema (table of contents) featured some tributes to Jacques Becker who had died on February 21 of that year. Among the tributes was one from Jean-Luc Godard published on page 4. Below is my translation of that written eulogy.

NOTE: rose du Fontennelle "it is within the memory of the rose not to see the gardener die"

"As Molière, Jacques Becker died on a field of battle, incredible and terrible, that of artistic creation. It was the hour when Caroline regretted bitterly having ditched Edouard. When Casque d'or (L'or du Cristobal, plainly) held back tears as Manda mounted the scaffold. It was Saturday night. The studio telephoned to say that the mixing of Le Trou was done. Our brother Jacques took another breath. Mortally wounded for I do not know how long a time, he could now leave the field of battle with no dishonor, And a few moments later, Jacques Becker indeed ceased being alive. It was Sunday morning at the hour when Max played his preferred '45s, when Lupin rejoined the princess at Maxim's and day broke,at last, on 7, Rue de l'Estrapade.
There are several good methods to make French films. In the Italian style like Jean Renoir. In the Viennese style as Max Ophuls did. Or a la New York such as Melville. But only Jacques Becker was, and remained, French in the French style, French like the rose du Fontennelle or the bande à Bonnot.
During the recording of Le Trou, I crossed paths with him by chance. Already ill, he was more beautiful that ever. He talked to me about the Three Musketeers. Quickly, I understood, The black moustache, the grey hair, this was the d'Artagnan of Twenty Years After. And it was Arsene Lupin, also. One only need to compare a photo of Becker at the wheel of his Mercedes 300 SL with the opening shot of The Adventures of Arsene Lupinto see that Robert Lamoureaux was his spitting image.
Thus, Jacques Lupin, alias Artagnan Becker is dead. We pretend to be moved, for we know, since The Testament of Orpheus that poets only pretend to die."

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