In 1988, Jean-Luc Godard wrote a short preface to the Correspondence from François Truffaut, published by Hatier by Gilles Jacob and Claude de Givray. The gesture is all the more notable since the two men broke up in 1973, following an exchange of letters of such violence and cruelty that it crucified an already tested friendship. Fifteen years later, and four years after Truffaut’s death, this text is simultaneously the tomb of this friendship, of the New Wave and of the youth of the person who composed it. It is also one of the most sincere and moving proofs of Godard’s inclination and talent for writing.
“The article of Artsno. 719, of April 22, 1959, said: “We won” and then, a little further, ended with: “… because if we have won a battle, the war is not over”. I had signed, as happy as Athos with a success for d’Artagnan. It was the presentation at Cannes of the four hundred blows, official representative of France. In those days, magic still existed. The work was not a sign of something, it was only this thing (which did not need a name and Heidegger to exist). And the public gave him a sign, or not, depending on his mood at the time.
Along the Croisette, a strange trio advanced under the cheers: an old bird with large wings already gray, a young hoodlum emerging from the darkness of a book by Jean Genet or Maurice Sachs, pale and stiff, holding by the hand a still youngest boy, escaped that one from the first novels of René Fallet, and who was to become the French equivalent of Pasolini’s Ninetto. Cocteau, Truffaut, Leaud. The angel Heurtebise said the passwords: look left, look right. smile at France Evening and France Roche! Salute the Minister! Slow down ! Accelerate! That time was good. And future glory had not yet woven the mourning of happiness. Because the war was lost in advance, because, of course, of the advance, precisely that we had on it. (This modern war between the digital and suffering, the said and the unsaid, because seen and recorded.)
“What bound us like teeth and lips, what chained us tighter than the fake kiss in Notorious, was the screen, and the screen alone”
These few banal letters, without any apparent necessity, tell a different story than the stories they tell about this or that, or this or that. A little as if Sénécal had taken the decision to publish Frédéric’s correspondence, and that all the sentimental education had never seen the light of day. Everything has to be started over. Why did I quarrel with François? Nothing to do with Genet or Fassbinder. Something else. Fortunately remained nameless. Idiot. Remained. Fortunately, while everything else became a sign, mortal decoration, Algeria, Vietnam, Hollywood, and our friendship, and our affection for reality. Sign and song of the sign. What bound us like teeth and lips – when we bought our poor Voltigeurs on leaving Place Pigalle from the Bikini or the Artistic, and a film by Edgar Ulmer or Jacques Daniel-Norman (ô Claudine Dupuis, ô Tilda Thamar) before going to rob my godmother to pay for the next day’s sessions – which chained us tighter than the fake kiss of Notoriousit was the screen, and the screen alone.
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