Bernard Eisenschitz and Jackie Raynal
Between 1931 and 1993, the main Renault plant occupied the whole of an island in a loop in the river Seine to the west of Paris. This was one of the most modern factories in Europe. It was also a bastion of trade-unionism, one of the major hotspots of the events of May and June 1968. Decugis’ film records a process of dismantlement, month-by-month, from April 2004 to March 2005. Demolition began at the downstream end, with the generating plant, then proceeded building by building. The camera remains on the opposite banks, filming the island from across the river. The narration pinpoints and expounds on what is being shown. By March 2005, ‘deconstruction’ is complete. Depollution lasts into 2006.
Cast and Credits
Scen., M.: Cécile Decugis. F.: Sylvain Verdet, Patrice Long, Matthias Denizo, Ernesto Giolitti, Joaquim Villain. Int.: Michel Delahaye (voce). Prod.: Raphaël Pillosio, Jaques Lavergne, Fabrice Marache per L’Atelier documentaire. DVD. D.: 33’. Col.
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.
Cast and Credits
Scen., M.: Cécile Decugis. Int.: Cécile Decugis, Don Whittemore (voci narranti). DCP. D.: 30’. Col. e Bn.
EDWIGE ET L’AMOUR
PARIS HIVER 1986-1987
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