Agnès Guillemot - Writer





Editor. Nationality: French. Born: Agnès Perche, in Roubaix, 1931. Education: Attended IDHEC, Paris, 1956–57. Family: Married the director Claude Guillemot. Career: 1956–57—editor for Télévision Canadienne (Télé-France); 1957–59—assistant editor at IDHEC; 1960—worked on TV news series, and then on series L'Education sentimentale , 1971, L'Amour du métier , 1972, La Clé des champs , 1973, and Les Secrets de la Mer Rouge , 1974; since 1980—teacher of film editing at IDHEC.


Films as Editor:

1953

La Faute des autres (Guez—short)

1955

Walk into Paradise ( L'Odyssée du Capitaine Steve ) (Robinson and Pagliero) (asst)

1958

Vous n'avez rien contre la jeunesse (Logereau—short); Voyage en Boscavie (Herman—short)

1959

Voiles à Val (Perol—short)

1960

Le Gaz de Lacq (Lanoe—short); Thaumetopoea (Enrico—short); Un Steak trop cuit (Moullet—short)

1961

La Quille (Herman—short); Une Femme est une femme ( A Woman Is a Woman ) (Godard)

1962

Une Grosse Tête (De Givray); Vivre sa vie ( My Life to Live ) (Godard); "Il Nuovo mondo" ep. of Rogopag (Godard)

1963

Le Petit Soldat (Godard—produced 1960); Les Hommes de la Wahgi (Villeminot—short); Les Carabiniers (Godard); Le Mépris ( Contempt ) (Godard); "Le Grand Escroc" ep. of Les Plus Belles Escroqueries du monde ( The Beautiful Swindlers ) (Godard); Jérôme Bosch (Weyergans—short); Une Semaine en France (C. Guillemot and Chambon—short)

1964

Bande à part ( Band of Outsiders ) (Godard); Une Fille à la dérive (Delsol); Rues de Hong Kong (C. Guillemot—short); La Jonque (C. Guillemot—short); Les Tourbiers (Weyergans—short); De l'amour (Aurel); Une Femme mariée ( The Married Woman ) (Godard) (co)

1965

Alphaville ( Une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution ; Alphaville: A Strange Adventure of Lemmy Caution ; Tarzan versus I.B.M. ) (Godard)

1966

Masculin-féminin ( Masculine-Feminine ) (Godard); Dialectique (C. Guillemot—short); Le Chien fou (Matalon); Nature morte (C. Guillemot—short); Made in U.S.A. (Godard)

1967

"Anticipation" ep. of Le Plus Vieux Métier du monde ( The Oldest Profession ) (Godard); La Chinoise (Godard); Weekend (Godard)

1968

Les Gauloises bleues (Cournot); Baises volés ( Stolen Kisses ) (Truffaut); One Plus One ( Sympathy for the Devil ) (Godard); La Trêve (C. Guillemot)

1969

"L'amore" ep. of Amore e rabbia ( Vangelo '70 ) (Godard); La Sirène du Mississippi ( Mississippi Mermaid ) (Truffaut); L'Enfant sauvage ( The Wild Child ) (Truffaut)

1970

Domicile conjugal ( Bed and Board ) (Truffaut)

1974

L'Age tendre (Laumet)

1975

Le Grand Matin (C. Guillemot—short); Cousin cousine (Tacchella)

1976

Un Type comme moi ne devrait jamais mourir (Vianey); Le Pays bleu (Tacchella)

1977

Monsieur Badin (Ceccaldi); Jean de la lune (Villiers); Les Violons parfois (Ronet)

1978

Folies douces (Ronet); Le Concierge revient de suite (Wyn)

1979

Il y a longtemps que je t'aime (Tacchella)

1983

La Diagonale du fou ( Dangerous Moves ) (Dembo)

1985

Escalier C (Tacchella)

1987

La Brute (C. Guillemot); Fuegos (C. Guillemot)

1988

La Lumière du lac (Comencini)

1990

Un Week-End sur deux ( Every Other Weekend ) (Nicole García)

1991

Nord ( North ) (Beauvois)

1994

Le Fils préféré ( The Favorite Son ) (Garcia)

1995

N'oublie pas que tu vas mourir ( Don't Forget That You're Going to Die ) (Beauvois)

1996

Mémoires d'un jeune con (Aurignac); Parfait amour! (Breillat)

1999

Romance ( Romance X ) (Breillat)



Publications


By GUILLEMOT: articles—

Cinématographe (Paris), March 1985.

Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), November 1990.

On GUILLEMOT: articles—

Chaplin (Stockholm), December 1968.

Film Comment (New York), March/April 1977.


* * *


Agnès Guillemot's 45-year career places her as one of France's most important, respected, and influential editors. She teaches editing at IDHEC in Paris, edits television series, documentaries, and narrative features, and through the 1960s, established the basic editing style of modernist filmmaking, contemporary television commercials, and music videos. She began cutting film during the Nouvelle Vague period and remains strongly associated with that era.

As Jean-Luc Godard's favorite editor, Guillemot edited all of his films from 1961 to 1969, with the exceptions of Pierrot le fou , Deux ou trois choses que je sais d'elle (both edited by one of her former assistants, Françoise Collin), and Le Gai Savoir . Collaborating with Godard on 13 features and four episodes of compilation films, and having an assistant edit two others, she must share responsibility for the deconstructive narrative techniques and reflexive visual style usually credited to Godard. Although the similarity of the editing strategies in Deux ou trois choses and Pierrot le fou to all Godard's other films suggests the director's overriding influence, and Guillemot herself admits that an editor must embrace the personal rhythm of each director and not impose her own, Guillemot's reification of Godard's theories cannot be underestimated. By introducing a sense of musical rhythm and a disregard for spatial and temporal continuity, her work with Godard avoided the realist dictates of linear narrative and provided a locus for ideological analysis. This radicalizing of conventional editing eventually emerged as her most important legacy.

Within any one film, Guillemot's editing appears contradictory, or perhaps dialogic; in any case, her work seems, at first glance, an impossible melange of styles. She combines or juxtaposes the formal symmetry of long takes, the precise rigor of classical match-action editing and shot/reverse shot, the playfulness of reflexivity, and the spontaneity of jump cuts. These characteristics exactly demonstrate the musical and open narrative signature of the Nouvelle Vague. Guillemot cites her strongest work as Une Femme est une femme , with its interplay of words and music as in an opera, and Les Carabiniers for the crescendo of the postcard sequence. In Alphaville , she reinforces Godard's parody of American science fiction by employing standard editing techniques only to abandon them at moments of highest narrative expectation. In Le Mépris , she uses jump cuts sparingly as a metaphor for Camille's confused mind, ironically embedding them in a fluid pattern of graceful tracking shots. In Masculin-féminin , she plays off the symmetrical tension of the title to visually explore the energy of romance; initially, fast-paced jump cutting represents a new love, slowing to long takes as the romance dissolves. In Weekend , she summarizes her collaboration with Godard by fully exhibiting her varied and "contradictory" style of editing, a style perfectly suited for encapsulating Godard's "end of cinema."

Guillemot's late career allowed her to adapt radical Nouvelle Vague modernism for more mainstream cinema; as New Wave stylistics became accepted and standardized, she expanded the confining logic and limitations of classic linear narrative. She edited films for François Truffaut (including two of the Antoine Doinel series), Jean-Charles Tacchella (including the Oscar-nominated Cousin cousine ), and Richard Dembo (the Academy Award-winning La Diagonale du fou ). By comparing these films to her Godard period, one can easily see Guillemot's influence on contemporary film editing. Eschewing only the reflexivity of her Godard period, she employs the other techniques (especially visual and aural jump cuts) to stress spatial and temporal ellipses. Contained within classical match action and shot/reverse shot sequences and countered with long takes, these ellipses open up a narrative, regardless of how confining ( La Diagonale du fou 's chess match) or how limited ( Cousin cousine 's conventional love story) and offer the potential for social critique. Her editing on La Lumière du lac and Un Week-End sur deux accomplishes exactly this—expanding the parameters of linear narrative with humorous spontaneity, rhythmic pacing, and critical observations of modern society. She has also edited ten shorts and features by her husband Claude Guillemot, alternating between traditional documentary style and her Nouvelle Vague techniques.

Guillemot's New Wave cutting also influenced most contemporary film and television editing. Even though the link between her editing during the 1960s and today's television commercials and music videos loses its political edge, the continuation of her style in these formats seems incontrovertible (the 1989 Lee Jeans ads, particularly, acting as a direct homage). The formal symmetry of shot/reverse shot placed within long takes, invisible match-action editing alternating with jump cuts, a playful reflexivity, and loosely structured "nonnarratives" are now accepted as standard practice (almost every music video is edited this way). Like most historical avantgarde artists, her work seems much less radical today because of its wide appropriation. Nevertheless, Guillemot must be credited with modernizing editing during the 1960s, an accomplishment which continues to influence visual media today.

—Greg S. Faller

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