Monday, February 09, 2009

Après les grèves / Avant la lutte

Bonne écriture


Bon, é-créatures.

Before I hold forth on this Swanberg business, or get on to acknowledging a few recent developments in the Dardosphere, I thought I'd make a brief detour and post the following image, with translation. It comes from the original program for Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin's Tout va bien [Everything's Going Fine, 1972], which MoC friends-and-associates Nick Wrigley and Soraya Lemsatef were sweet enough to send along as part of a gift-package assembled during a recent Paris trip.

Godard and Gorin's statement is doubly apropos at Cinemasparagus in light of a forthcoming post on Jerry Lewis's 1961 The Ladies Man — a film, like Tout va bien, that I revere, and whose cross-section dolls'-house gets cited obliquely via the latter film's factory set. Both Godard and Gorin were, of course, not only intensely familiar with Jerry Lewis's work, but also, by way of their 1972 invocation, were in a sense setting themselves down upon familiar ground: it was Godard who pronounced in 1967, on the eve of his kiss-off to the presiding commercial-theatrical system, that "Jerry Lewis is the only one making courageous films in Hollywood today. What's more, he knows it." What's more, Godard and Gorin knew of the debt owed by Lewis to the output of his longtime friend and movie-mentor: the filmmaker Frank Tashlin. It might do to alert, or at least remind, my readers to the fact that Tashlin started out his life in film by directing some of the most memorable Merrie Melodies / Looney Tunes shorts for Warner Bros.' animation wing — an experience that fed back into such live-Tashlin masterworks as The Girl Can't Help It [1956] and The Disorderly Orderly [1964] — and the eye-meltingly Techni-dyed, sight-gag-based sketch-schema of Lewis's own directorial career, too.

Hence the closing line.

[JLG]: This is the story of a crisis.

[JPG]: That of a couple

[JLG]: Him: Yves Montand, a filmmaker who's put himself out of work after 1968.

[JPG]: Her: Jane Fonda, the correspondent in France for an American radio network.

[JLG]: This is the story of a crisis within a crisis.

[JPG]: Of the crisis of a couple within a society in crisis (France in 1972)

[JLG]: That's all folks!

— Jean-Luc Godard / J-P Gorin

The Ladies Man by Jerry Lewis, 1961:

Tout va bien [Everything's Going Fine] by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin, 1972:

Trebly apropos because Swanberg's films also deal with a couple — the same one, in fact, as Godard and Gorin's picture: cinema / life.


36 by W. S.

Let me confess that we two must be twain
Although our undivided loves are one:
So shall those blots that do with me remain,
Without thy help by me be borne alone.
In our two loves there is but one respect,
Though in our lives a separable spite,
Which though it alter not love's sole effect,
Yet doth it steal sweet hours from love's delight.
I may not evermore acknowledge thee,
Lest my bewailèd guilt should do thee shame;
Nor thou with public kindness honour me
Unless thou take that honour from thy name:
But do not so; I love thee in such sort
As, thou being mine, mine is thy good report.


39 by W. S.

O, how thy worth with manners may I sing
When thou art all the better part of me?
What can mine own praise to mine own self bring,
And what is't but mine own when I praise thee?
Even for this let us divided live
And our dear love lose name of single one,
That by this separation I may give
That due to thee which thou deserv'st alone.
O absence, what a torment wouldst thou prove
Were it not thy sour leisure gave sweet leave
To entertain the time with thoughts of love,
Which time and thoughts so sweetly doth deceive,
And that thou teachest how to make one twain
By praising him here who doth hence remain.



  1. Sorry, but Shakespeare's sonnets role here escapes me. Not an unwelcome reminder, but why, please?
    Miguel Marías

  2. I was curious as to whether you feel your own experiences as a filmmaker create a different relationship with or appreciation of Swanberg's films. It's a question that could, I suppose, be asked in relation to the work of any filmmaker, but in Swanberg's case there seems to be a certain line of invective that implies "I could do that myself" - except that, of course, most people don't make the attempt (it reminds me of the kind of comment you're likely to overhear in any gallery of "modern art").

    The text from Tout va bien is intriguing; the line about "en chômage" seems especially hard to fully capture in English, almost as if the filmmaker takes himself out of the game following 1968, yet that seems an awkward idea in translation.

  3. Maybe, but you're right in that the nuance should have been included — I've since modified the text.


  4. I didn't mean that your incidental translation was awkward, incidentally, simply that it's hard to capture the nuance succinctly.


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