30 mai 2011

French critics legacy 4

Dave Kehr: "The studios aren't distributing anymore, it's not on TV anymore... [..] But when you realise how much films were made in that period, and how many are actually in circulation, it's pretty startling. Very tiny percentage. Mostly it's the Oscars pictures. And that's what's gonna survive unfortunately. And I don't think that's what represents the best of what came out of Hollywood. And the same for Germany, Italy, France, Japan... We just have the very surface of the stuff that is accessible. [..]
The one thing that America has never done and that the French did very early on, was to move beyond movies as nostalgia. Here, home videos have always been pitched to people who remembered these movies when they were kids. And as that audience dies out, those films go out of circulation because we never moved to that next stage: works of art are interesting in and of themselves, not because they evoke nice days of our youth. [..]"

Dave Phelps: "The culture they are preserving is American culture. Paris has devoted 3 or 4 small cinemathèques that show different classical Hollywood films every day. [..]"

Dave Kehr: "The French also have a huge back lot of stuff they're not seeing. Pierre Chenal, Henri Calef... and another couple of dozen people who worked in the 20ies, 30ies, 40ies who were really major [sic] interesting filmmakers, of which nothing is on commercial distribution. And maybe you can see some of it in museums..."

Dave Phelps: "So if France is keeping a lot of our culture, maybe we should be [doing the same for them]"

Dave Kehr: "That would be nice! I don't think we're going to be returning that favor anytime soon... [..] But France is the only country that has a huge archive that is supported by tax money. Every ticket you buy, there is a percentage that goes to the CNC, and that preserves their film culture. French film culture, of course, but they also have an awful lot of American film culture, that they are slowly repatriating to the Library of Congress, UCLA... We should have a program like that. The new facilities at the Library of Congress are the best in the world, and it's a gigantic collection of movies. And we're preserving more and more stuff, it's just that we can't see it, movies don't come out of the vault. [..]
It's also a byproduct of the 60ies where we all learnt that our feelings is what really matter, not so much the objects, just the expression of it. I love that movie, I love it, but why? And they can't explain it. But it's not important to them. It resonates on some level. How is it affecting ME. Is it boring? It's not about the movie anymore... [..]"

What's going on? The American Film Critic Society recently lifted the embargo on French Culture or what? Is it not frowned upon anymore to mention France, to praise French critics? It's about time American culture is starting to compare itself with something else than America.
The next step will be to stop being fatalistic about it, and try to put faith in the idea that it is POSSIBLE to change the system imposed to your limited, conditioned sheep consumption, with some efforts and some commitment. You can't always rely on the French to preserve and analyse American films for you. An heritage you later appropriate like if you invented it on your own while snubbing French critics.

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1 commentaire:

HarryTuttle a dit…

"Peut-être que nous, petits Français cinéphiles, et moi plus que n'importe qui, on hérite de cette obligation de se coltiner l'histoire du cinéma parce qu'il n'y a que nous qui l'avons écrite et qui l'avons vécue de façon aussi sérieuse, aussi irremplaçable. C'est un peu notre question."

Serge Daney (Cahiers du cinéma, n°458)