Saturday, August 23, 2014
'An unclassifiable filmmaker in 20th century French cinema, Guy Gilles is the director of a little-known body of work, melancholic and poetic, that combines nostalgia for the past with a haunting evocation of the present. His work was a passion of many of the most respected French actors and actresses, and it remains a favorite of film buffs, who love his films for their acute literary references and close attention to private emotion.
From Love of the Sea (1965) to Nefertiti (1996), Guy Gilles developed his films on the sidelines of the New Wave, his work sometimes colliding painfully with the contemporary trends, and often facing the indifference of a public confused by the precious uniqueness of his vision.
'It is in precarious conditions - three years of work and a more than limited budget - that, in his first film, Guy Gilles turned to the sea for a romantic love story of two protagonists who do not live with the same intensity. Already, in the film's many obsessions (thematic and aesthetic), we see the lifelong interests of its director. We meet for the first time the actor who would become his favorite (Patrick Jouane) and number of stars attracted by the enthusiasm of the young filmmaker. He will always convince stars to volunteer their contributions to his cinema: Jean-Claude Brialy, Alain Delon, Jean-Pierre Léaud and Juliet Greco appear in his work repeatedly, contributing to their poetic strangeness a sense of timelessness that one can already see clearly in as early a work as Love of the Sea.
'This atmosphere is also reflected in Au pan coupé (1967), starring Patrick Macha Meril Jouane, who created his own production company, Machafilms, in order to enable the film to be made. The charm of this sensitive film rests on the memory of a lost love. It shows none of the indifference of the work being made and celebrated at the time, by such as Jean-Louis Bory or Marguerite Duras.
'While Gilles hoped to shoot his next film, Le Clair de terre (1969), in his native Algeria, he was forced by circumstance to do so in Tunisia. This delay forced him to replace Simone Signoret in the central role of the retired teacher. Edwige Feuillère accepted the role, and brings much to the film's character and its imperial, faded elegance. Considered Gilles's masterpiece, Le Clair de terre is a concentration of all of his art, lingering between nostalgia and modernity.
'He would never again find this delicate balance, even in Absences répétées (1972), despite winning the Prix Jean Vigo for the film. Darker than his previous films, Absences répétées follows the deadly process of a young man isolating himself in a haze between drugs and a desire to commit suicide. Apart from the very impressionistic Jardin qui bascule (1974) starring Delphine Seyrig, Guy Gilles made no feature films for the next decade.
'Le Crime d'amour (1982) is a flawed film situated between a police investigation and the story of a crazy and tragic love affair between a young man and an older woman (Macha Meril), and it exudes a strange and powerful latent homosexual drive. The film's staging rarely succeeds in articulating these various levels. This failure is even more obvious with Nuit docile (1987) which was met with general indifference from both critics and the French public.
'Although he was already very ill, Gilles then began to make the film Nefertiti, an ambitious international co-production that exhausted him and was considered a fiasco. In 1995, an unfinished version was shown very quietly on television. On February 3, 1996, Gilles Guy died from complications from AIDS. His brother, Luc Bernard, later devoted a documentary to Gilles's work in 1999: Letter to my brother Guy Gilles, filmmaker too soon.
'Parallel to his achievements in film, Guy Gilles was a prolific director for television. He directed a very highly regarded documentary about Marcel Proust (Proust, art and pain, 1971) and another successful documentary about Jean Genet (Holy martyr and poet, 1974). He was also a cultishly beloved photographer and painter, and he wrote several books, most of them as yet unpublished.' -- Cinematheque Francaise
Guy Gilles Website
Guy Gilles @ IMDb
'Absences répétées': A Guy Gilles Retrospective @ Cinematheque Francaise
'(Re) découvrir la splendeur des films de Guy Gilles relève de l'urgence...'
Guy Gilles @ Ciné-club
'L'Amour à la mer de Guy Gilles (1964) - Analyse et critique'
Video: 'Guy GILLES sur GODARD et la nouvelle vague'
'Les courts métrages de Guy Gilles'
Hommage à Guy Gilles
'Je suis formaliste, mais la forme est l’expression de la sensibilité,' Guy Gilles
'Guy Gilles, Nouvelle vague proustienne'
DVD: 3 films by Guy Gilles
Documentary: 'Guy Gilles et le temps desaccorde'
Guy GILLES, souvenirs
Entretien avec Guy GILLES
Une vision plastique du monde (1967)
by Guy Gilles
Je suis tombé amoureux d’Henri Langlois, le Directeur de notre Cinémathèque, le jour où je l’ai entendu affirmer à Henry Chapier, qui l’interviewait pour la Télévision Française, que le cinéma était, il ne fallait jamais l’oublier, avant tout un art plastique.
De grands créateurs comme Eisenstein, Murnau ou Stroheim avaient ouvert sur cette voie de magnifiques portes et, excepté Hitchcock et quelques autres, avec leur disparition ces chemins ont été désertés.
Je pense qu’il est pourtant impossible de traduire par d’autres moyens que l’image et la plastique, la poésie cinématographique, au sens wellesien du mot : « la caméra est un œil dans la tête du poète ».
Ni peinture, ni littérature, ni apparenté à aucun autre art existant, le cinématographe est une vision plastique du monde – ceci n’ayant aucun rapport avec l’esthétisme, car s’il m’est impossible de faire ne serait-ce qu’un plan, d’une façon autre que celle qui correspond à ma vision plastique de toute chose, il m’est de la même façon et avant tout, bien entendu impossible de filmer un sentiment, une idée, qui soient en opposition avec mes convictions politiques ou avec mon cœur.
Une fleur, un mur, une rue ou le visage de Greta Garbo sont, je crois, également « véhicules » de poésie et sources d’émotions. Tout dépend du regard posé sur eux.
Auteur de mes films, j’en assume totalement la responsabilité. Je crois à l’importance de chaque détail, plan aussi bien que mot, cadrage aussi bien que son, décors, choix des acteurs, musique .
Plus que le titre de metteur en scène, j’aimerais celui inventé par Sternberg de « metteur en ordre ». Un véritable auteur de film est responsable de chaque chose, dont il doit bien entendu avoir la connaissance profonde. C’est la raison pour laquelle j’ai voulu être capable d’être mon propre caméraman, mon propre directeur de la photographie et j’aimerais, comme Chaplin, savoir écrire la musique de mes films.
Je crois qu’un créateur de films doit avoir une idée et la science de chaque élément du film : scénario, dialogue, image, découpage (son, mots, bruits et musiques) montage. (Resnais, Bresson, Melville ou Godard par exemple).
Le reste étant comme le dit François Truffaut une question d’équilibre à trouver, de dosage de tous les éléments et, enfin, de ce quelque chose d’inexplicable qui fait le mystère et la beauté du cinématographe.
A partir de là, si je suis très strict avec moi-même, je suis au contraire très libre et très ouvert face au travail des autres hommes de cinéma. On peut, comme le dit encore François Truffaut, dessiner ses plans comme Eisenstein ou Hitchcock, ou bien tourner en 16mm et en couleurs avec une caméra délirante comme certains jeunes cinéastes américains, l’important est le film. Un beau film est un beau film.
Depuis mon premier court-métrage en 16mm et en noir et blanc, Soleil éteint, jusqu’au Pan Coupé, comme dans les émissions de télévision que j’ai réalisées pour mon ami Roger Stéphane, il n’y a pas une seule idée ou une image que je n’ai tournée selon mon cœur. Pour reprendre le bel article de Sylvain Godet (à propos d’un film de Rouch), je crois aussi qu’il faut dans ce dur et beau métier de cinéma « gagner le droit de filmer le coucher du soleil ou le lever du jour », et j’essaierai de le mériter, et de faire oublier ceux qui sont du côté des chromos…
Le lever du jour et le coucher du soleil, ces enchantements, sont le cœur de la nature qui bat, et la trace du temps.
9 of Guy Gilles's 19 films
Au biseau des baisers (1959)
'Algiers, summer, Sunday. A young couple in love goes to Tipaza: strolls on the beach, seeing the dancing, ride scooters. Imperceptibly, there is the initial crack in their harmony. "When kissing the years pass too quickly; avoid, avoid, avoid the broken memories" (Aragon)' -- guygilles.com
L'Amour à la mer (1965)
'Waltzes between youths displaced from their country characters, feelings of confusion and Daniel Guy, sailors return to France after the war in Algeria, and Genevieve, also moving between Paris and Brest , young people troubled by their dreams of freedom and hesitations between Paris seductions and sunny beaches of summer ... ' -- collaged
Un dimanche à Aurillac (1967)
'Toute une journée à Aurillac, par un dimanche de pluie. Pêche à la ligne, stand de tir, petit bal, promenades main dans la main sur les routes alentour. Du café à la gare, les lieux, les visages et le temps qui s'écoule sont saisis de manière impressionniste, sans dialogue ni commentaire.' -- unifrance.org
Au pan coupé (1967)
'Un garçon et une fille se retrouvent dans un café, Au pan coupé. Ils s'aiment. Ils vont se séparer pourtant. Il y a chez Jean un manque, une révolte qui le rendent impuissant à vivre. Refaire la monde à sa manière, c'est être libre. À Jeanne qui souhaite le comprendre, il raconte son adolescence troublée, la prison d'enfants, les fugues et toujours le désir de sortir du rang... Un jour il disparaît. Jeanne le recherche et découvre l'impossibilité d'oublier et, à son tour, la force du " manque ". Au pan coupé est le deuxième long-métrage de Guy Gilles, avec un goût de premier film. Il y a deux sortes de films à réaliser, explique Guy Gilles, le film de composition qui explique des situations ouvertes, libres. Disons que la caméra suit des gens qui partent de points donnés, traversent des lieux divers et rencontrent d'autres gens. Puis le film d'inspiration qui se fait dans une histoire intimiste et tourne autour de personnages précis. Au pan coupé est un film intimiste, mais les deux formes de réalisation m'intéressent."' -- guygilles.com
Le Clair de Terre (1970)
'Pierre Brumeu, a twenty-year-old young man, leads a drab life in Paris with his father, a man he does not understand very well, and his friends Michel and Sophie. Father and son live in the memory of Pierre's mother, who died too early. One day, Pierre decides to go to Tunisia, the sunny country where he was born...' -- IMDb
Absences répétées (1972)
'Guy Gilles sait comme personne donner à voir les mille et un éclairs du spectacle quotidien et de la mémoire. Série de flashes montés vifs, émiettant le réel en notations rapides – ce qui n’empêche pas l’acuité de l’observation ni la précision de la mémoire. Avec ce fourmillement de lumières et de reflets, de visages aperçus dans l’éclair d’un coup d’œil et d’objets une seconde élus par l’attention ou le souvenir, Guy Gilles compose une symphonie pointilliste, vrai poème qu’enrichit une bande sonore, musiques, bruits, paroles, montées avec autant de sensibilité habile que les images.' -- Le Nouvel Observateur
Le Jardin qui bascule (1974)
'This is an interesting film that the public and fans of Delphine Seyrig should seek out. She is given a substantial role and makes the most of it. The film is genuinely odd in that it feels like two unrelated tales; Karl (a hit-man) dispatches his victims coolly. Then he enters the tranquil world of Kate and falls in love, with tragic consequences. The film is beautifully shot and well observed, its complex characters interacting and developing. For no apparent reason Jeanne Moreau appears and sings a song by Stephane Grappelly. There are shades of Rohmer and painterly influences. The French countryside has rarely appeared lovelier. At times the camera simply lingers on a tree or glass which creates an atmosphere. The performances are terrific, Guy Bedos, usually a comedian, plays it straight here with great success. However, the film belongs to Seyrig, one of the most totally underrated and truly great actress' of theatre and cinema.' -- IMDb
Un garçon de France (1985)
'L'action se passe à Paris en 1959, avec des retours en arrière. Un adolescent à la recherche d'une mère qu'il n'a pas connue entre dans l'âge d'homme et découvre l'amour.' -- guygilles.com
Dis papa, raconte moi là bas (1993)
'Les temps cependant sont durs et ce n'est que cinq ans après Le crime d'amour qu'il parvient à filmer Nuit Docile, avec Claire Nebout et Patrick Jouané, peut être son film le plus personnel. C'est ensuite un nouveau retour aux sources, avec un documentaire: Dis Papa, raconte moi là-bas, où Richard Berry interprète le rôle d'un père pied noir qui explique à son film ce qu'était son Algérie.' -- guygilles.com
p.s. Hey. So, starting tomorrow I'll be working on the shooting of the next scene in Zac's and my film. It'll take three days, starting at 9 am each morning and ending at 10 pm. What this means as far as the blog goes is that I won't be doing the p.s on Monday and Tuesday, and you'll be getting rerun posts on those days. I will catch up with the comments left here between now and then when things return to normal with new posts and p.s.es appearing for a while again on Wednesday. ** gucciCODYprada, Cody! Thanks a lot for slipping out of your wonderland to say hi. The reading is barely happening, unfortunately, and will surely stay in the barely category until we finish shooting the film on September 5th because I will be almost nothing but a film preparing and realizing machine until then. Then I'll get the great treat of reading! Oh, wow, you'll be going on Amman's world tour? Sounds like a bunch has already happened since you got there? Whoa. Yeah, very cool that you'll come through Paris, and if you have time for a coffee or something while you're here, I'll feel very ... blessed? Man, I can't wait to hear more details about your time there and what's going on. Big love, me. ** Sypha, Hi. Yeah, total connection with and resemblance to the snow globe post and to the snow globe medium or genre or whatever you want to call it. The growing thing in many of terrariums is a nice twist. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Yeah, I'm almost surprised that Cornell didn't make a terrarium. Or maybe he did. I look forward to your Ira Sachs interview. Everyone, David E. has interviewed the filmmaker Ira Sachs, director of the very lauded 'Keep Your Lights On' and the new, buzzed about film 'Love Is Strange'. No doubt a fascinating read, so please click this and be magically crossfaded over to the Fandor site where you can do that. * Thomas Moronic, Hi, T. Cool, thank you for your super rich thoughts inspired by the post. Yeah, thank you. I guess I think a lot about scale in regards to them. Which makes me think about scale in fiction. How technically the characters imbedded in texts are these tiny, reduced figures, but how they're also immeasurable and 'god'-sized, pill-like at the same time. In the figurative/narrative terrariums, I also like how they're like daydreams of humans as insects. And other stuff. Yeah, too, about your fairytale thoughts. Another thing about fairytales that interests me is how raw and clunky and presumptuous the writing in them often is. Or seems to be. When I read them, I don't understand how they work on children. They seem like twitching corpses made of writing or something. They're strange. Right, never more does writing become a matter of playing with failure and incapacity than when trying to write about sex maybe. I would say about love too, but love has no physical form, so it's really hard in a different way. ** Hyemin Kim, Hi. I'm really glad the terrariums pleased you and made you think. Interesting. I've never been into growing plants and nature either outdoors or indoors, and I don't know why. People used to tell me that you grow into that interest, but I never have. I think the rhythm of my interests is at odds with the rhythm of growing things or something. But I think it's really interesting when people are into that and do it. It makes me feel peaceful, or, no, it makes me think about the peacefulness inside the people who do that. Thanks, yeah, it's going to a long, intense weekend and early week, but we're all pretty excited about it too. Wow, selling those Rohmers is a big sacrifice, but, then again, they were just an object in that form, I guess. I never buy DVDs. It's weird. I don't know why since I buy books and records a lot. ** Kier, Hi, K. No way, you're making little snow globes! That's so incredibly exciting to hear, I can't tell you! Oh man oh man, you have to take photos of them okay? I wish holographic cameras were a real, affordable thing. Your day was nice with drama and crazy cool bread food. Yeah, really nice day you had, at least in prose form. But surely in the real world too. Cool. My yesterday: In the morning, they delivered the snow making machine. It's much smaller than we had imagined, which is kind of spooky since we need a lot of snowfall, but maybe it's the little snow machine that could, hopefully. We won't even get to test it until tomorrow morning when we're setting up the scenery and getting ready to shoot. It looks like a cross between a small cannon and a vacuum cleaner. Then we rehearsed for most of the day. The Krampus costumes arrived, and, as we had figured, they're kind of lame and awful looking (gorilla costumes), so we have to figure out how to distress them -- but not too much since they're rentals -- and how to light them so they'll look better in the scene. They're also really hot, and the performers were kind of dying in them. Still, that aside, the rehearsals went really well, so well that we cancelled the ones today so we can do the ton of last minute other things we need to do instead. Our performers are so great, as performers and as people. We're really lucky. After the rehearsals, I had to move a bunch of equipment and stuff into the storage area we're using, and then revise the script, which got changed quite a bit in the rehearsals, and other stuff. Film, film, film, basically, It was a good day, though, and hopefully we'll get everything ready today. How was your weekend, or, wow how were your next several days since I won't be able to catch you up on my days for the next, what, four days? ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. I remember your fondness for L'Anarchiste. eBay should really figure out how to have a scratch-and-sniff option for situations like this. Enjoy the smell and your weekend, my friend. ** Misanthrope, Hi, G. Mm, no, I don't find them creepy. Weird? They're pretty, maybe even too pretty in some instances. Yeah, I guess I'm weird or something. Yeah, that's some Hulkster ribbing right there. I like the Hulk. I maintain a fondness for him from the old days that his recent days have not diminished. Vaguely apropos, I've been wanting to do a Randy 'Macho Man' Savage post for ages, and I think I'll just go ahead and do that. I guess if I were in the States, I'd probably go 'oh, god' not that 'lift, bro' fucking thing again, but, over here, I've heard nary a peep of it. Oh, I'll go find your FB message. I haven't been over there, Shit, yikes. ** Chris Cochrane, Chris! My old buddy! Hey! So sweet to see you, sonic maestro! Well, we ended up having switch from having a band in the scene to having an electronic music guy, a noise/laptop guy, and not even a real one but a guy playing one and miming along to preexisting music. Finding a band was impossible on our budget. It should have been you! I believe you about your extremely loud project, and you're right that there is a virtual guarantee that I'll love that. Record something of it, please. And send something/ anything to me, yes! Maybe Thurston will call you a pussy, ha ha. Whoa, Chris, I miss you, man! Tons 'o' love! ** Right. Guy Gilles: I literally only discovered his films five days ago, so I'm almost as new to his work as you will be this weekend. The Cinematheque here is mounting a big retrospective of his films. He's very obscure, even in France, but I guess he's being rediscovered right now. I think his work looks very interesting, and I'm digging into it as we speak or, rather, type. Lastly, again, you'll see revived posts and very brief 'hi'-style p.s.es until Wednesday. Enjoy them, if you can, and type stuff, and I'll see you on Monday in limited form and then again full blast on Wednesday.
Posted by Dennis Cooper at 12:04 AM