Godard ON Godard
Filming Le Petit Soldat: Suzanne Schiffman. Raoul Coutard. Godard
88: Frere Jacques
Like Moliere, Jacques Becker died on a strange and terrible battlefield: that of artistic creation. It was the moment when Caroline bites her finger till she draws blood because she has left Edouard when Golden Marie (Cristobal's Gold, of course) forces back her tears as Manda climbs the scaffold. It was Saturday evening. The studio telephoned to say that the mixing of Le Trou was complete. Our brother Jacques breathed again. Mortally wounded for so long, he could now give up the struggle without dishonour. And a few minutes later, Jacques Becker was no longer alive. It was Sunday morning, the hour when Max plays his favorite record when Lupin meets the Princess at Maxim's when the day finally dawns over 7 rue de I'Estrapade.
There are several good ways of making French films. Italian style, like Renoir. Viennese, like Ophuls. New Yorker, like Melville. But only Becker was and is French as France, French as Fontenelle's rose and Bonnot's gang. I happened to meet him during the sound mixing of Le Trou. Already ill, he was more handsome than ever. He talked about Les Trois Mousquetaires, and suddenly I understood. That dark moustache, that grey hair ... he was d'Artagnan in Twenty Years After. And he was Lupin too. Just compare a photograph of Becker seated at the wheel of his Mercedes with the opening shot of The Adventures of Arsene Lupin and you will see that Robert Lamoureux was his spitting image.
So Jacques Lupin, alias Artagnan Becker, is dead. Let us pretend to be moved, for we know from Le Testament d'Orphee that poets only pretend to die.
89: Le Petit Soldat
It was under the benevolent eye of script-girl Suzanne Schiffman that we shot scene 7/2b of Le Petit Soldat, a film whose theme is not real but newsreel: in other words, with hand-held camera (fist clenched, like the Spanish Republicans in L'Espoir), a good deal of tracking, some over- and underexposed shots, one or two rather blurred, to tell the story of a French secret agent who refuses to carry out a mission, but eventually does so after misadventures which include his capture and torture by a rival network. A story, in other words, for the benefit of distributors, which once deciphered becomes that of a man who feels that his reflection in the mirror does not correspond with his own image of himself, a man who thinks women should not be over twenty-five, a man who loves dear old Haydn's music, a man who wishes he too were able to carve his way with a knife, a man who is very proud of being French because he loves Joachim du Bellay and Louis Aragon, and who yet remains a little boy - so I have called him The Little Soldier.
The Ten Best Films of 1960
Les Bonnes Femmes (Claude Chabrol)
The Savage Innocents (Nicholas Ray)
Give a Girl a Break (Stanley Donen)
Sansho Dayu (Kenji Mizoguchi)
Moonfieet (Fritz Lang)
Nazarin (Luis Buiiuel)
Poem of the Sea (Alexander Dovzhenko)
Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock)
Le Testament d'Orphee (Jean Cocteau)
Tirez sur Ie pianiste (Francois Truffaut)
Godard/ Godard ON Godard/ Marginal Notes While Filming: August 1959-August 1967