Citizen Langlois by Edgardo Cozarinsky is an essayistic documentary about Henri Langlois, founder and head of the Cinémathèque française until his death in 1977. I recently rewatched this along with Jacques Richard’s much longer documentary (which is also on the tracker –here–) and liked it even better than the time I saw it first at the Berlin festival some years ago.
The movie mostly consists of archive footage, showing Langlois, the musée du cinéma, collaborators and famous actors and directors. The events around the Affaire Langlois in 1968 take some time here, too, but Cozarinsky succeeds in finding a different angle to focus on Langlois and cinéphilia in general.This rip’s not mine and it’s not perfect either (maybe a bit too large for a 64-minute movie), but, I’m sorry, that’s all I have. The rip’s source is unknown to me, but it seems to come from a beta-tape. It’s in French only with occasional English and German language parts and has no subtitles yet — I nevertheless reckon you’d enjoy the movie without understanding every word of it, because it’s beautifully rhythmized, edited and narrated. Cozarinsky, who mostly works now as biographic movie-essayist, masters the complex task to portray Langlois very well.
Cozarinsky’s documentary portrait of Henri Langlois, the great film historian, archivist and co-founder (with Georges Franju, seen interviewed here) of the Cinémathèque Française, is respectful, informative but never hagiographic. Langlois had an importance unthinkable in Britain – the French government’s attempt to dismiss him from the Cinémathèque was one of the key events in the ferment of 1968 – and his progress from amateur collector to nouvelle vague hero and friend of the stars is related with wit and sensitivity, complete with clips from some of the movies he rescued, fascinating interviews and home-movies (Langlois with Mekas and Ginsberg!).
Edgardo Cozarinsky’s 68-minute documentary about Henri Langlois, the idiosyncratic cofounder of the French Cinematheque and spiritual father of the French New Wave, was awarded the 1995 Forum prize at the Berlin gathering of the International Federation of Film Critics; the jury (of which I was a member) cited it as “a brilliant essay revealing a multifaceted grasp of a major pioneer for whom cinema was the ultimate nationality.” Langlois (1914-’77), a Turkish exile, was forced to flee Izmir when the Turks reclaimed it from Greek troops in 1922, setting off fires that destroyed three-fifths of the city, and Cozarinsky (One Man’s War), himself an exile who left Buenos Aires for Paris, uses film images bursting into flames as a recurring motif–not so much Langlois’ “Rosebud” as the furnace consuming his beloved sled. Langlois’ passion for film preservation and multifaceted hatred for state bureaucracies were the traits of a complex individual, and Cozarinsky’s portrait is far from exhaustive; in keeping with a certain French etiquette, there’s nary a word about Langlois’ homosexuality, and aspects of his paranoia are skimped. But the man is there and recognizable, and so is his divine madness, as reflected in the words of his companion Mary Meerson–that Josef von Sternberg’s lost The Case of Lena Smith “will reappear one day when mankind deserves it.”
799MB | 1h 8mn | 776×352 | avi
Language(s):French, some English + German language parts