Marguerite Duras - Director





Nationality: French. Born: Marguerite Donnadieu in Giadinh, French Indo-China, 1914. Education: Educated in mathematics, law and political science at the Sorbonne, Paris. Career: Published first novel, Les Impudents , 1943; subsequently novelist, journalist and playwright; directed first film, La Musica , 1966. Awards: Prix Goncourt for novel L'Amant , 1984, Ritz Paris Hemingway, Paris, 1986. Died: 3 March 1996, in Paris, France.


Films as Director:

1966

La Musica (co-d, sc)

1969

Détruire, dit-elle ( Destroy She Said ) (+ sc)

1971

Jaune le soleil (+ pr, co-ed, sc, from her novel Abahn, Sabana, David )

1972

Nathalie Granger (+ sc, music)

1974

La Femme du Ganges (+ sc)

1975

India Song (+ sc, voice)

1976

Des journées entières dans les arbres ( Days in the Trees ) (+ sc); Son Nom de Venises dans Calcutta desert (+ sc)

1977

Baxter, Vera Baxter (+ sc); Le Camion (+ sc, role)

1978

Le Navire Night (+ sc)

1978/79

Aurelia Steiner (4-film series): Cesarée (1978) (+ sc); Les Mains négatives (1978) (+ sc); Aurelia Steiner—Melbourne (1979) (+ sc); Aurelia Steiner—Vancouver (1979) (+ sc)

Marguerite Duras
Marguerite Duras

1981

Agatha et les lectures illimitées ( Agatha ) (+ sc)

1985

Les Enfants ( The Children )



Other Films:

1959

Hiroshima mon amour (Resnais) (sc)

1960

Moderato Cantabile (Brook) (sc, co-adapt from her novel)

1961

Une Aussi longue absence ( The Long Absence ) (Colpi) (co-sc from her novel)

1964

Nuit noire, Calcutta (Karmitz) (short) (sc)

1965

"Les rideaux blancs" (Franju) episode of Der Augenblick des Friedens ( Un Instant de la paix ) (for W.German TV) (sc)

1966

10:30 P.M. Summer (Dassin) (co-sc uncredited, from her novel) ( Dix heures et demie du soir en été ); La Voleuse (Chapot) (sc, dialogue)

1991

L'Amant ( The Lover ) (co-sc)



Publications


By DURAS: screenplays—

Hiroshima mon amour , Paris, 1959.

Moderato Cantabile , with Gérard Jarlot and Peter Brook, 1960.

Une Aussi longue absence , with Gérard Jarlot, Paris, 1961.

10:30 P.M. Summer , with Jules Dassin, Paris, 1966.

La Musica , Paris, 1966.

Detruire, dit-elle , Paris, 1969; as Destroy, She Said , New York, 1970.

Les rideaux blancs , Paris, 1966.

Jaune le soleil , Paris, 1971

Nathalie Granger, suivi de La Femme du Gange , Paris, 1973.

India Song—texte—theatre—film , Paris, 1975; as India Song , New York, 1976.

Des journées entières dans les arbres , Paris, 1976.

Son Nom de Venises dans Calcutta desert , Paris, 1976.

Le Camion , Paris, 1977.

Le Navire Night, Césarée, Les Mains négatives, Aurelia Steiner , Paris, 1979.

Vera Baxter; ou, Les Plages de l'Atlantique , Paris, 1980.

Agatha , Paris, 1981.

Les Enfants , Paris, 1985.


By DURAS: fiction—

Les Impudents , Paris, 1943.

La Vie tranquille , Paris, 1944.

Un Barrage contre le Pacifique , Paris, 1950; as The Sea Wall , New York, 1952; as A Sea of Troubles , London, 1953.

Le Marin de Gibraltar , Paris, 1952; as The Sailor from Gibraltar , London and New York, 1966.

Les Petits Chevaux de Tarquinia , Paris, 1953; as The Little Horses of Tarquinia , London, 1960.

Des journées entières dans les arbres , Paris, 1954; as Whole Days in the Trees , New York, 1981.

Le Square , Paris, 1955.

Moderato Cantabile , Paris, 1958, and New York, 1987.

Dix heures et demi du soir en été , Paris, 1960; as Ten-Thirty on a Summer Night , London, 1962.

L'Après-midi de Monsieur Andesmas , Paris, 1962; as The Afternoon of Monsieur Andesmas , London, 1964.

Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein , Paris, 1964; as The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein , New York, 1967; as The Rapture of Lol V. Stein , London, 1967.

Le Vice-consul , Paris, 1966; as The Vice-Consul , London, 1968, New York, 1987.

L'Amante anglaise , Paris, 1967, New York, 1968.

Abahn, Sabana, David , Paris, 1970.

L'Amour , Paris, 1971.

Ah! Ernesto , with Bernard Bonhomme, Paris, 1971.

La Maladie de la mort , Paris, 1983; as The Malady of Death , New York, 1986.

L'Amant , Paris, 1984; as The Lover , New York, 1985; translated b1y Barbara Bray, New York, 1998.

Hiroshima Mon Amor , translated by Richard Seaver, New York, 1987.

Les Yeux bleus cheveux noirs , Paris, 1987; as Blue Eyes, Black Hair , London and New York, 1988.

Emily L. , Paris, 1987, New York, 1989.


By DURAS: plays—

Théâtre 1 (includes Les Eaux et forets, Le Square, La Musica ), Paris, 1965.

Théâtre 2 (includes Susanna Andler ; Yes, peut-étre; Le Shaga; Des journées entières dans les arbres ; Un Homme est venu me voir) , Paris, 1968.

L'Homme assis dans le couloir , Paris, 1980.

L'Homme Atlantique , Paris, 1982.

Savannah Bay , Paris, 1982.

The Square , Edinburgh, 1986.

Yes, peut-etre , Edinburgh, 1986.


By DURAS: other books—

Les Parleuses , with Xaviere Gauthier, Paris, 1974.

Étude sur l'oeuvre littéraire, théâtrale, et cinématographique , with Jacques Lacan and Maurice Blanchot, Paris, 1976.

Territoires du féminin , with Marcelle Marini, Paris, 1977.

Les Lieux de Duras , with Michelle Porte, Paris, 1978.

L'Été 80 , Paris, 1980.

Outside: Papiers d'un jour , Paris, 1981, Boston 1986.

The War: A Memoir , New York, 1986.

The Physical Side , London, 1990.


By DURAS: articles—

"Conversation with Marguerite Duras," with Richard Roud, in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1959/60.

"Marguerite Duras en toute liberté," interview with F. Dufour, in Cinéma (Paris), April 1972.

"Du livre au film," in Image et Son (Paris), April 1974.

"India Song, a Chant of Love and Death," interview with F. Dawson, in Film Comment (New York), November/December 1975.

"India Song and Marguerite Duras," interview with Carlos Clarens, in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1975/76.

Interview with J.-C. Bonnet and J. Fieschi, in Cinématographe (Paris), November 1977.

"Les Yeux verts," special issue written and edited by Duras, of Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), June 1980.

Interview with D. Fasoli, in Filmcritica (Florence), June 1981.

Interview with A. Grunert, in Filmfaust (Frankfurt), February-March 1982.

"The Places of Marguerite Duras," an interview with M. Porte, in Enclitic (Minneapolis), Spring 1983.

Interview with P. Bonitzer, C. Tesson, and Serge Toubiana, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), July-August 1985.

Interview with Jean-Luc Godard, in Cinéma (Paris), 30 December 1987.

Interview with Colette Mazabrard, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), December 1989.

"Jacquot filme Duras," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), May 1993.


On DURAS: books—

Bernheim, N.-L., Marguerite Duras tourne un film , Paris, 1976.

Ropars-Wuilleumier, Marie-Claire, La Texte divisé , Paris, 1981.

Trastulli, Daniela, Dalla parola all imagine: Viaggio nel cinema di Marguerite Duras , Geneva, 1982.

Borgomano, Madeleine, L'Ecriture filmique de Marguerite Duras , Paris, 1985.

Brossard, Jean-Pierre, editor, Marguerite Duras: Cinéaste, écrivain , La Chaux-de-Fonde, 1985.

Guers-Villate, Yvonne, Continuité/discontinuité de l'oeuvre Durassienne , Brussels, 1985.

Fernandes, Marie-Pierre, Travailler avec Duras: La musica deuxième , Paris, 1986.

Selous, Trista, The Other Woman: Feminism and Femininity in the Work of Marguerite Duras , New Haven, Connecticut, 1988.


On DURAS: articles—

Gollub, Judith, "French Writers Turned Film Makers," in Film Heritage (New York), Winter 1968/69.

"Reflections in a Broken Glass," in Film Comment (New York), November/December 1975.

Lakeland, M.J., "Marguerite Duras in 1977," in Camera Obscura (Berkeley), Fall 1977.

Van Wert, W.F., "The Cinema of Marguerite Duras: Sound and Voice in a Closed Room," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Fall 1979.

Seni, N., "Wahrnehungsformen von Zeit und Raum am Beispiel der Filme von Marguerite Duras und Chantal Akerman," in Frauen und Film (Berlin), September 1979.

"Marguerite Duras à l'action," in Positif (Paris), July/August 1980.

Andermatt, V., "Big Mach (on the Truck)," in Enclitic (Minneapolis), Spring 1980.

Lyon, E., "Marguerite Duras: Bibliography/Filmography," in Camera Obscura (Berkeley), Fall 1980.

Murphy, C.J., "The Role of Desire in the Films of Marguerite Duras," in Quarterly Review of Film Studies (New York), Winter 1982.

Fedwik, P., "Marguerite Duras: Feminine Field of Nostalgia," in Enclitic (Minneapolis), Fall 1982.

Sarrut, B., "Marguerite Duras: Barrages against the Pacific," in On Film (Los Angeles), Summer 1983.

Murphy, C.J., "New Narrative Regions: The Role of Desire in the Films and Novels of Marguerite Duras," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), April 1984.

Le Masson, H., "La voix tatouee," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), January 1985.

McWilliams, D., "Aesthetic Tripling: Marguerite Duras's Le navire Night ," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), January 1986.

Cottent-Hage, M., "Le camion de Marguerite Duras, ou comment assurer la libre circulation," in Post Script (Commerce), vol. 7, no. 1, Fall 1987.

Williams, Bruce, "Splintered Perspectives: Counterpoint and Subjectivity in the Modernist Film Narrative," in Film Criticism (Meadville), vol. 15, no. 2, Winter 1991.

Grange, M.F., "Corps filmique entre lisible et visible chez Marguerite Duras," in Cinémas (Montreal), vol. 3, no. 1, Autumn 1992.

Vajdovich, G., "Antiregény és anitfilm," in Filmkultura (Budapest), April 1995.

Johnston, Trevor, "French Lessons," in Time Out (London), 18 October 1995.

DuPont, J., "The Enduring Duras," in Village Voice (New York), 9 April 1996.

Obituary, in EPD Film (Frankfurt), April 1996.

Obituary, in Kino (Sofia), no. 2, 1996.

Obituary, in Classic Images (Muscatine), May 1996.

Obituary, in Skrien (Amsterdam), June-July 1996.

Roy, André, "Marguerite Duras, moderne," in 24 Images (Montreal), no. 82, Summer 1996.

Everett, Wendy, "Director as Composer: Marguerite Duras and the Musical Analogy," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury), April 1998.


* * *


As a writer, Marguerite Duras's work is identified, along with that of such authors as Alain Robbe-Grillet and Jean Cayrol, with the tradition of the New Novel. Duras began working in film as a screenwriter, with an original script for Alain Resnais's first feature, Hiroshima mon amour. She subsequently wrote a number of film adaptations from her novels. She directed her first film, La Musica , in 1966. If Hiroshima mon amour remains her best-known work in cinema, her later films have won widespread praise for the profound challenge they offer to conventional dramatic narrative.

The nature of narrative and the potential contained in a single text are major concerns of Duras's films. Many of her works have appeared in several forms, as novels, plays, and films. This not only involves adaptations of a particular work, but also extends to cross-referential networks that run through her texts. The film Woman of the Ganges combines elements from three novels— The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein, The Vice-Consul , and L'Amour. India Song was initially written as a play, taking characters from The Vice-Consul and elaborating on the structure of external voices developed in Woman of the Ganges. India Song was made as a film in 1975, and its verbal track was used to generate a second film, Son Nom de Venises dans Calcutta desert. This process of transformation suggests that all works are "in progress," inherently subject to being reconstructed. This is partly because Duras's works are more concerned with the quality or intensity of experience than with events per se. The films present narrative rather than a linear, unambiguous sequence of events. In Le Camion , two characters, played by Gerard Depardieu and Duras, sit in a room as the woman describes a movie about a woman who hitches a ride with a truck driver and talks with him for an hour and twenty minutes. This conversation is intercut with scenes of a truck driving around Paris, and stopping for a female hitchhiker (with Depardieu as the driver, and Duras as the hitchhiker). Thus, the verbal description of a potential film is juxtaposed by images of what that film might be.

An emphasis on the soundtrack is also a crucial aspect of Duras's films; her verbal texts are lyrical and are as important as the images. In India Song , sound and image function contrapuntally, and the audience must actively assess the relation between them, reading across the body of the film, noting continuities and disjunctions. The verbal text often refers in past tense to events and characters on screen, as the viewer is challenged to figure out the chronology of events described and depicted—which name on the soundtrack corresponds to which actor, whether the voices belong to on- or off-screen characters, and so forth. In this way the audience participates in the search for a story, constructing possible narratives.

As minimal as they are, Duras's narratives are partially derived from melodrama, focusing on relations between men and women, the nature or structure of desire, and colonialism and imperialism in both literal and metaphoric terms. In pursuing these issues through nonconventional narrative forms, and shifting the burden of discovering meaning to the audience, Duras's films provide an alternative to conventional ways of watching movies. Her work is seen as exemplifying a feminine writing practice that challenges the patriarchal domination of classical narrative cinema. In an interview, Duras said, "I think the future belongs to women. Men have been completely dethroned. Their rhetoric is stale, used up. We must move on to the rhetoric of women, one that is anchored in the organism, in the body." It is this new rhetoric, a new way of communicating, that Duras strives for in her films.

—M.B. White



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