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Save The Paintings: Perfect Memory


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Save The Paintings: Perfect Memory Unlike what is commonly done in movies, on my films they aren’t shown the previous day’s rushes. I never show them what they’ve done so they won’t watch themselves onscreen as if in a mirror and try to correct themselves, as all actors do. They think, “My nose is too far to the right. Next time l’ll face left. That’ll be better.” You see what I mean. How do you ask your performers to learn their lines? What input do they have as to dialogue? I ask them to learn their lines ignoring their meaning, as if they didn’t have a meaning, as if the words were just syllables. As if sentences weren’t made of words but of syllables. The meaning comes upon them unaware at the moment I described earlier, when I set them loose in the film. They learn their lines in a foreign language, only receiving the translation at the moment they’re set free. Yes, if you like. Do you use long takes to allow them to express themselves? To me, the substance of cinema isn’t gestures and words. It’s the effect produced by these gestures and words. So it’s completely independent of me and even them. It occurs completely without their knowledge. It’s what these gestures and words emit, what we read in their attitudes and faces. Like Montaigne said, “We’re revealed in our gestures.” Mr. Louis Malle. Yes, indeed, I think if Balthazar were shot with professional actors, there’d be, I don’t know, something a bit off in the tone of the film. The performers must be unknowns without any ties to acting. What I find exceptional in Bresson’s work, and especially in this film, is that it’s cinema that has burnt all bridges with the theater. It’s a cinema of inner life. We can associate it with many things: Music, painting, these kinds of things. I think, most of all, it’s the expression of thought. In general, when filmmakers begin a film, they entrust the performers, professional actors, to express this thought. These people use their techniques, their methods, their talent. I’d say their talent is the problem. It’s bound to get in the way and prevent Bresson’s thought from retaining all its purity.


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