Philippe Garrel • Director
Liberty, revolution and authenticity
by Fabien Lemercier
Regular on the Lido with four selections in official competition so far and a Silver Lion in 1991 with J’entends plus la guitare, the French filmmaker Philippe Garrel reveals his new work in black and white Les Amants réguliers [+see also:
interview: Philippe Garrel
film profile] dedicated to the impact of the events of May 1968 on a group of young revolutionaries. A quick view of a singular creator who bears the standard of artistic liberty while keeping a salutary humour...
Why does Les Amants réguliers begin with an explicit reference to a film by Jean Eustache?
I intentionally copied a scene from The mother and the whore in tribute to Jean Eustache who was my friend and who committed suicide in 1981. We both came from the cinema of Truffaut and Godard and I think that films must act as a witness and leave a trace without censure. Elsewhere, France has a tendency to strike May ‘68 from History. But Les Amants réguliers subscribes also to a cinema policy, in which L’Atalante by Jean Vigo is the most beautiful film every made.
Which part of the film is autobiographical ?
It’s not such a large part as you might think. Of course, I lived those Paris rooftops chases to escape the police, that civil war. But the film is very romanticized and I got my inspiration more from literature and in particular from Stendhal with The Red and the Black and The Charterhouse of Parma. Because my film sums up how love hurts, then saves you before hurting you all over again.
Apart from a nod towards Bernardo Bertolucci with one of your characters mentioning his film Before the Revolution, how does Les Amants réguliers place itself with regard to Dreamers [+see also:
interview: Bernardo Bertolucci
film profile] (2003) which also treated the events of May 68 ?
In no way can I say that I left him in the shade since it was a huge international production and I can’t compete with Gone With The Wind. But in the spirit of a B movie filmed on the sets of A movies, you could say that I pinched the costumes and the extras from Dreamers. Bernardo Bertolucci’s film is, however, very important since it gives a positive vision of the revolution and it toured the cinema theatres worldwide. And that’s rare, apart from Viva Zapata by Elia Kazan.
How do you cope with the demands of your films against such financial constraints?
I have to shoot very quickly, one take, two if necessary, because the financials means are limited. Les Amants réguliers was shot in 39 days with a 1,5 million euros budget and all the film I used is up there on the screen. But I don’t complain because you can’t make a big film without losing your freedom and art isn’t a question of means. It’s already amazing that films get made. It’s always the impossible that comes out of cinema when it is authentic and independent.
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