Marguerite Duras & Paul Seban – La musica (1967)

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Synopsis:
‘Marguerite Duras’s La musica, which she adapted from her own short two-character play, is about a husband and wife who meet three years after their formal separation, when they return to the provincial town where they once lived to pick up their divorce decree.’
– Vincent Canby Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – Agatha et les lectures illimitées AKA Agatha and the Limitless Readings (1981)

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One of Duras’ most fascinating treatments of the dialectical relationship between sound & image, what is spoken & what is left unsaid, is an evocative “adaptation” of her then unperformed play, Agatha. Featuring Bulle Ogier & Yann Andréa as the wandering protagonists, & Duras & Andréa’s disembodied voices on the soundtrack, it is equally a haunting meditation on the relation between humanity & its geographic surroundings. Shot in Duras’ beloved Trouville, whose remarkable array of beachside villas the writer-director considered “the most beautiful tracking” shot in “the history of cinema”. Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – Les mains négatives (1978)

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Marguerite Duras (1914 – 1996) was one of France’s most famous writers of the twentieth century. Her talents ranged across fiction, film, playwriting, andjournalism, and all through her long career, just the mention of her name could be counted on to start a spirited discussion in a Parisian café or in an American or English college literature or women’s studies department. A compulsive worker, Duras wrote 34 novels and a wide variety of shorter works, returning to writing even after a stroke robbed her of the use of her dominant hand. Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – Nathalie Granger [+Extras] (1972)

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The most insidious thing about the nouveau movie, which is a polite way of describing Marguerite Duras’s newest, most minimal film, “Nathalie Granger,” is that it traps you in its own time, unlike the nouveau roman, which can be skipped through or read at leisure in an afternoon or a year. You can’t skip through “Nathalie Granger.” To see it you are forced to watch it for as long as it lasts, while, in turn, it watches its characters, rather as if the camera were a Siamese cat whose feelings had been hurt. Without betraying the slightest interest, the camera records the physical appearance of two expressionless women who look a lot like Jeanne Moreau and Lucia Bose. They share a house with their two children, one of whom, Nathalie, is apparently a problem. “She wants to kill everyone,” says one of the women, who seem to be interchangeable. “She wants to be an orphan, or a Portuguese maid.” Nathalie, however, remains docile—this being a minimal movie. Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – India Song (1975)

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Poetical tale of Anne-Marie Stretter, the wife of a French diplomat in India in the 1930s. At 18 she had married a French colonial administrator and went with him on posting to Savannakhet, Laos. There she met her second husband who took her away and for 17 years they lived in various locations in Asia. Now in Calcutta, she takes lovers to relieve the boredom in her life. Told in a highly visual style with little dialogue but a constant voice-over narrative by the different characters. Continue reading

Benoît Jacquot & Marguerite Duras – La mort du jeune aviateur anglais AKA The Death of the Young English Aviator (1993)

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La mort du jeune aviateur anglais tells the story of a British airman whose grave Marguerite Duras discovered near Deauville. Although we don’t know where fiction begins, Duras’ narrative has a remarkable authenticity. A veritable manifesto of spontaneous writing, brilliantly directed by Benoît Jacquot, where the “direct writing” of Duras meshes perfectly with the unpretentious approach of the filmmaker. (Allocine) Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert (1976)

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When the film Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert was initially shown in 1976, many viewers found it hauntingly beautiful but deeply perplexing. Some, seeing it as a sign of Duras’ inability to separate herself from the making of India Song, even ascribed the film to a kind of postpartum depression. Since that time, the film has been placed in perspective as an inseparable component of the India cycle as a whole, although little has been written, with certain notable exceptions, on its specific relation to the other works. Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert is a purely metanarrative epilogue that culminates the progressive decomposition of spectacle as well as the dismantling of the neocolonial subject conceived as specular identity that was initiated by previous works in the India cycle. The film confirms the paradoxical character of the mimetic illusion, whose mirror functions as an ontological abyss for the desiring subject. Its seductive ideal of absolute identity and mastery in fact results in passivity and impotence. Conceived as a means of guaranteeing individuals the illusion of a form of immortality, it actually removes them from the arena of real action, enslaving them to a sterile fantasy. Continue reading