Scen., M.: Cécile Decugis. Int.: Cécile Decugis, Don Whittemore (voci narranti). DCP. D.: 30’. Col. e Bn.
This ‘roman’ (both romance and novel) of her father is narrated by Cécile Decugis’ voice – somewhat hoarse, unsentimental and unforgiving. It is a ‘photo-roman’, a story in stills (a few cinematic shots excepted). It starts as a chronology of her father’s and mother’s lives: characters like everybody else – and thus unique. The photographs in the family album record the feeling of time past through the gradual changes in body language, in women’s dresses, in artefacts of self-representation – cars, planes. A digression leads us twenty-five centuries back, to the time the city of Hyères was founded: nothing the audience should worry about any more than the meticulous, Nouveau Roman-style inventories of automobiles, aeroplanes, or trees in a garden. But the world at large soon bursts into the story: Mermoz’ transatlantic flight comes to a triumphant end the day Cécile Régine, the daughter of René and Paule, is born; for the eye of the still camera, René mimics a couple of ominous politicians called Chamberlain or Hitler. René comes down with tuberculosis. Following in the footsteps of Jean Vigo, he goes to Villard-de-Lans for a cure, and dies aged 37. The narrative had started as a dispassionate chronicle, it now switches to a Giraudoux mood: “Paule, who used to say pleasantly that she preferred to ski at night because, since she didn’t see anything at night, she knew no fear, was forced to look at the day and now she knew fear”. One single photograph, a self-portrait of the filmmaker as a ‘roaring’ teen-ager, reveals the void left by the father.