Letter to a Soapbox Son-of-a-Bitch

May 3, 2011 § Leave a comment


I’m sending back your letter to Jean-Pierre. I read it and I find it disgusting. It’s because of that letter that I think the moment has come to tell you, in detail, how, according to me, you act like a shit. I don’t give a damn what you think of Day for Night. But what I do find pathetic on your part is that, even now, you go to films like that when you know very well in advance they don’t match your idea of cinema or your idea of life. It’s my turn to call you a liar. At the beginning of Tout va bien, there’s this line: “To make a film, you need stars.” That’s a lie. Everybody knows about how you insisted on having Jane Fonda – who refused – while your financers told you to pick anybody. Your couple of stars, you got them Clouzot style. Since they work with me, they can work for one tenth of their salary for you, etc. Karmitz, Bernard Paul need stars. You don’t. So that was a lie. You’ve always had it, this way of posing as a victim, like Cayatte, like Boisset, like Michel Drach, a victim of Pompidou, of Marcellin, of censorship, of distributors who cut films, while in fact you get by very well doing exactly what you want, when you want, the way you want, and above all, keeping this your image as a pure tough guy, that you want to keep , even if at the expense of people who can’t defend themselves. When I saw Vent d’Est and the sequence “how to make a Molotov cocktail”, the only feeling I had for you was contempt. And a year later you shied away when we asked you to distribute La Cause du peuple in the street with Jean-Paul Sartre. The idea that men are equal is just theory for you. You don’t feel it. You just want to play a role and it has to be a big role. I think the real militants are like cleaning ladies: it’s not pleasant work, it’s daily, it’s necessary. But you, you’re like Ursula Andress, a four minute cameo, time for the flashbulbs, a few striking quips, and, poof, you disappear, back to the lucrative mystery. Shitty behavior! Really shitty behavior! For a while after May 68, nobody knew what you were doing. Rumors spread: he’s working in a factory; he’s formed a group, etc., then one Saturday we hear, it’s announced, that you are going to speak on RTL. I stayed in the office so I could hear you. It was one way of finding out, getting news about you. Your voice was trembling; it seemed full of emotion. You announced that you were going to shoot a film, The death of my Brother, about a black worker who was sick and whom they let die in the basement of a television factory, and listening, and inspire of the quiver in your voice, I knew first, that the story was probably not precisely true, or that you had tarted it up, and, two, that you would never make the film. And I said to myself: if this dead guy had a family, then they are going to live with the hope that the film is going to be made? There’s no role in the film for Yves Montand or Jane Fonda. But for fifteen minutes you gave the impression that you were “doing good”, like (Prime Minister) Messmer when he announces that the voting age is being lowered to 19. Fake! Dandy! Show off! You’ve always been a show off and a fake, like when you sent a telegram to de Gaulle for his prostate. Fake, when you accused Chauvet of being corrupt because he was the last, the only one to resist you! Fake when you practice the amalgam, when you treat Renoir and Verneuil as the same, as equivalent; fake when you say you are going to show the truth about the movies, who works for no pay, etc. If you want to talk about it, okay…

(This letter was written by Truffaut himself, a response to Godard’s attacks on his work.)

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