This dissertation sets out to analyze the function of breaks, shifts and ellipses in the films of Maurice Pialat (1925-2003). These shifts and contrasts, which can often be sudden or violent, create problems in relation to the narrative, as they are present between and within the sequences themselves. However, these clashes also appear to contribute to the emotive value of the films and this will be the emphasis of my analysis.
Maurice Pialat made his first feature length film, L'Enfance nue (1968), at forty-three years old, and proceeded to make only ten films in thirty years, a significant number of which he wished he had not made. He was also known for the difficulties surrounding the production of his films and compared to the amount of films produced by his contemporaries, he was an outsider. His relationship to the Nouvelle Vague movement is what René Prédal (2005:7) called a rendez-vous manqué'. This could be a metaphor for his work. Through filming the banal and the repetitions, shifts, breaks in seemingly insignificant events in everyday life, Pialat missed a certain element that made the narratives of the films of the Nouvelle Vague so elaborate.
[...] French Cinema in the 1980s: Nostalgia and the Crisis of Masculinity. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Prédal, R. (2005). A nos amours: Etude critique de René Prédal. Paris: Armand Colin. Sontag, S. (1966). Spiritual Style in the Films of Robert Bresson. Against Interpretation Stéphane, R. (Director). (1969). Choses vues autour de L'Enfance nue [Motion Picture]. France: archives INA. Toubiana, S. (2003). Pialat L'Intégrale (Vol. 1). Paris: Gaumont Video. Toubiana, S. (2005). Pialat L'Intégrale (Vol. 2). Paris: Gaumont Video. Truffaut, F. (Writer), & Truffaut, F. [...]
[...] Sabine Haudepin, who played Elizabeth in Passe ton Bac d'Abord (1979) spoke about her experience, saying: J'ai touché du doigt quelque chose que j'aime plus que tout au théatre aussi d'ailleurs, qui sont les arythmies, vous voyez, les cassures, les chutes, quelque chose de l'ordre du déséquilibre, c'est à dire que tout n'est pas comme ça, brusquement le sol peut s'ouvrir sous vos pieds. In fact, although Pialat's scenes often have a beginning, middle and an end, however abrupt it might me, he suddenly cuts from one sequence to another and compared his ‘method' to automatic writing (1984: in the sense that he never formally stops or pauses but uses shifts instead, creating a block of material that is sequential despite being broken throughout. [...]
[...] Yet through ellipses, sudden breaks and shifts in his work and leaving out the ‘vernis', or polish, of transitions, he succeeds in capturing emotions that have an authentic quality. As the father says, dis pas que ce soit vrai parce que ce qu'on lit on n'est pas là' I am not saying that it's true because what we read, we're not stressing the importance of the truth in the immediacy of live emotions over the conventional ‘récit', or storytelling of past events, present in narrative cinema. [...]
[...] Toubiana (2003) stated, On ne comprend rien au cinéma de Maurice Pialat si l'on ne saisit pas à quel point il lui importe de capter, le plus souvent à leur corps défendant, ces instants de vérité, ces moments magiques et imprévisibles ou les acteurs, professionnels ou amateurs, expriment la justesse d'un sentiment, d'une émotion, d'un geste, la bassesse d'un regard ou, plus rarement, la grandeur morale. In fact, Pialat, as the father, improvised the part of the sequence when he asks his daughter where one of her dimples has gone. [...]
[...] (1992, March 13). Maurice Pialat on Van Gogh. Paris. Projections 9 French Film-makers on Film-making (M. Ciment, M. Sineux, Interviewers, M. Ciment, N. Herpe, Editors, & P. Hodgson, Translator) London: Faber and faber. Pialat, M. (Writer), & Pialat, M. (Director). (1972). Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble [Motion Picture]. Pialat, M. (Writer), & Pialat, M. (Director). (1979). Passe ton bac d'abord [Motion Picture]. Pialat, M. (2003, January 15-21). Propos de Maurice Pialat recueillis par Christian Fevret et Serge Kaganski. Les Inrockuptibles. [...]
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