1978, Michael Snow and Marguerite Duras met for the first time when
Snow came to Paris for a solo exhibition at La Centre Pompidou. Duras
had just finished work on "Le Camion" while Snow had completed the
films "Wavelength", "La Région Centrale" and "Rameau’s Nephew". Neither
one had seen each other’s work.
Dominique Noguez, with the intention of writing an article that was never completed, initiated a meeting between the two at Neauphle-le-Château and transcribed the ensuing conversation. The following is an excerpt…
Duras: They say that you are the champion of combinatronics. So,
according to you then, cinema would be a random machine? According to
you, cinema is a random machine?
M. Snow: I always leave space for chance and luck. Without chance, it becomes work. I want to see or hear something with which I have never been confronted. Basically, I’m a ‘trier.’
M. Duras: Someone was talking about your films when I was at the Hyères Film Festival – talking about ‘experimental cinema.’ That frightened me.
M. Snow: Why?
M. Duras: Society treats liberty as an alienation. It authorizes what can be put aside. One shouldn’t let that happen.
M Snow: I agree. But this identity business gave me the opportunity to discover important filmmakers. The issue is exhibition. You’ve managed to work inside the industry and so your films are released in cinemas…
M. Duras: Gaumont gave me ten million francs to make "Le Camion". For cinema, that’s very little. I don’t know if I was ready. I went for it. If the work print hadn’t been good, we wouldn’t have made prints of the finished film.
M. Snow: Don’t you believe that the reason you are given money is because your films tell stories?
M. Duras: But they will tell you that what I do is not cinema. My films are stories on proposed images. That for me is cinema. For forty years cinema has been ashamed of speech; as ashamed as it is of being intelligent.
M. Snow: But you can be intelligent without words.
M. Duras: When cinema reduces a story to a single image, it takes power over the audience. I know that’s not what you are doing.
M. Snow: But I could make a film with words only. One at a time, written on the screen. That’s an idea I’m having. Maybe you will think that it’s storytelling, but it’s not what I’m after.
M. Duras: And I could make a film where the screen would be black and I would narrate. I’m not sure you’d like it.
M. Snow: Let’s see…or rather, let’s hear! (They laugh.) I’m interested in a film as long as I can represent it to myself as a sculpture – a sculpture of light and time.
M. Duras: I’m more attached to the limitless potential of text; to its limitless proliferation of images.
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