From the French

On Film / The Daily — Jun 23, 2020
Gérard Depardieu and Maurice Pialat during the making of Loulou (1980)

By happy coincidence, four substantial texts have been translated from the original French just in the past few days and weeks. Three of them are extracts from books, and the fourth is an entire, freely available book. Andrew Castillo has spent his time in lockdown translating Chris Marker (The Impossible Book), a memoir by Marker’s adopted daughter, Maroussia Vossen. This swift little volume, originally published in 2016, is “an unprecedentedly intimate look at the relationship the two shared from her birth to his death,” writes Castillo. “Vossen proves to be a deft guide to Marker's idiosyncratic world.”

Srikanth Srinivasan has taken a break from translating Luc Moullet’s Politique des acteurs and turned to a chapter from Les fantômes du souvenir, a 2016 memoir by the renowned critic and author Serge Toubiana that addresses his turbulent friendship with Maurice Pialat. “One doesn’t understand anything about Pialat if one doesn’t notice that characters in his films embody figures of resentment,” writes Toubiana. “For him, the criteria for artistic success never included a film in its entirety; he was only satisfied with moments, when he thought he was able to capture life, to find the right rhythm, to locate himself at the right distance from human beings and things, and when the actors had stopped performing and let themselves go, finally allowing their soul to show through. Pialat strongly believed in the truth of each moment. It was his absolute criterion.”

Laurent Kretzschmar has been translating the work of critic Serge Daney for a good number of years now, and the latest addition to the site where he collects these translations is an enthusiastic endorsement of Valeria Sarmiento’s Notre mariage (1984), an adaptation of Corín Tellado’s novel written by her husband, Raúl Ruiz. “As in all successful melodramas, only the structure counts,” wrote Daney for Libération in a 1985 piece later republished in Ciné Journal 1981–1986. “As in Buñuel, the more limpid the filming the more it intimates a tortuous and, deep-down, utterly insalubrious story. At each moment in Notre mariage, something irremediable happens, choices are made, irrevocable decisions are taken. It is even this exaggerated gravity that leaves a light, similarly Buñuelesque irony hovering over the film.”

Both Toubiana and Daney were editors at Cahiers du cinéma around the time that Olivier Assayas was writing regularly for the magazine in the early 1980s. On Friday, Assayas will deliver Sabzian’s third annual State of Cinema address—online, in French, with English subtitles, and freely accessible worldwide. “Cinema in the Present Tense” is the title of Assayas’s talk on contemporary cinephilia. As a taster, Sabzian has posted Veva Leye’s translation of Laurence Schifano’s preface to Présences, a collection of Assayas’s writings on cinema published in 2009. “Each of his films, without exception,” writes Schifano, “is a mark in a personal research, of encounters and at the same time of an epoch and its romantic and poetic aura.”

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