Became ours - Weekend - Kommersant
The Carabinieri, Jean-Luc Godard's most important film, came out 60 years ago. Critics called it a failure, the audience left the cinemas, but since then there has hardly been a more violent, sober and terrible statement about human nature and violence. At the request of Weekend Zinaida Pronchenko explains why today it is worth revisiting this universal parable of war.
In 1962, Godard was overwhelmed with love, bordering on passion, for Roberto Rossellini. After the filming of “Live Your Life,” Godard was abandoned by Anna Karina, who could not bear the tantrums and whims of the self-proclaimed genius. Later, Godard will say: "Anne left because of my countless shortcomings, but the real reason is different - I just could not talk more about cinema with her." With whom, apparently, he could and wanted to discuss the intricacies of the seventh art, it was with Rossellini. Several times Godard, as if flirting, called Rossellini "his master" in the press. In vain. And this love of Godard did not meet reciprocity. In mid-May, Rossellini visited Paris, watched “Live Your Life” at a screening specially organized for him, then, when Godard volunteered to personally take “his master” to the airport, he remained silent for a long time and at the end of the trip gloomily declared: “Jean-Luc, you you are on the verge of Antonionism!” According to eyewitnesses, the car of Godard, who listened to the review, almost flew into a ditch.
However, in the summer, Godard and Rossellini met again - in the suite of the Rafael Hotel, to begin work on a joint script based on the play Carabinieri by the Italian playwright Beniamino Joppolo. Joppolo was one of the most significant post-war authors in Italy, his novel "Wooden Horses" was considered a cult among the creative intelligentsia of the left. Rossellini planned to stage The Carabinieri for a theater festival in Spoleto, and entrust the cinematic version to an obsessive Parisian journeyman. Jean Gruault, who had already helped to adapt texts by Rocher and Diderot for Truffaut's Jules et Jim and Rivette's The Nuns, was also involved in writing the script.
But even before the project "Carabinieri" took on at least some shape, Godard and Rossellini took part in the almanac "RoGoPaG", which was immediately banned from distribution in Italy due to the short film "Ricotta", filmed by Pasolini, which was considered offensive by the censors. feelings of believers. For RoGoPaG, Godard, inspired by the science fiction novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (in 2007, Francis Lawrence will film this book at the initiative of Will Smith), composed the novella The New World, which was a kind of draft of the Carabinieri, that is, a sketch on the theme of "happy beginning of the end of the world." According to the plot, the protagonist, played by Jean-Marc Bory, a longtime friend of Caye du Cinema, after a serene forty-eight hours of sleep, learns from the newspaper L'Humanite in the morning that he is almost the only survivor of a nuclear explosion. Outside the window, the open Arc de Triomphe and the decapitated Eiffel Tower lie in ruins, a gray day is dawning, which no one will see. In the "New World" one can recognize the beginnings of Godard's comic-apocalyptic worldview, most clearly expressed, probably, in Alphaville. But the "Carabiniers" seem to form an ideal double feature with the "New World" - as if explaining to the viewer what preceded the nuclear explosion. Namely, another senseless and ugly war.
"Carabinieri" begins with a quote from Borges: "More and more I strive for simplicity, I use the most general metaphors, only they are eternity - the stars, for example, are like eyes, and death is like a dream." This epigraph is an antithesis to Brecht's maxim so beloved by Godard: "realism is not about the truth of life, but about what life really is." At the junction of transcendental poetry and chopped prose, the events of The Carabinieri take place - the story of one war unleashed on the orders of one king, but which killed millions - including the protagonists. It is, as it were, an abstraction, an archetypal fairy tale, necessarily starting with generalizations - temporal and geographical: in a certain kingdom, in a certain state, a man lived ... Only in Godard's fairy tale assumption continues with an absolute imperative - a man lived and was killed. For the indefinite article is always followed by the definiteness of human aspirations: to kill in order to rule. This theorem does not need justification. There are no unknowns in this equation, except perhaps the places of burial. Given: life. Required: kill.
So, in a certain state, a certain king sends messengers to his subjects - peasants named Michelangelo and Ulysses and their wives Venus and Cleopatra, who live in the middle of a desert, barren land, blown by cold winds.
“Mobilization,” the younger and slightly silly Michelangelo reads through the warehouses, “what does this mean?” “That means war!” Cleopatra explains to him. “War is wonderful! add the messengers, sipping coffee and lighting Diplomat cigars. “War allows you to visit foreign countries and enjoy life in its various aspects!”
For the role of Ulysses, Godard engaged almost a debutant Marino Maze, who played before the "Carabinieri" only in "The Leopard" - and then a third-rate character. Michelangelo is portrayed by cinematographer Luc Mullet's younger brother Patrice. The part of Cleopatra went to the singer Catherine Ribeiro, at the time of filming Godard's mistress, whom he described as a cross between Anna Magnani and Maria Felix. Finally, Venus is played by Genevieve Galea, Guy Bear's companion and mother of the future eighties icon Emmanuelle Bear.
The unexpectedly starless casting is motivated by several considerations. First of all, Godard, who was already nurturing the project "Contempt" with Brigitte Bardot and Michel Piccoli, wanted to give himself a respite from performers with a worldwide reputation, who demanded the director's full attention and sometimes even subordination on the set. On the other hand, the universal parable of the war, in which not a single death is embellished - there are no heroes, only brutal executioners who eventually turn into disfigured corpses - had to be told by actors whose faces did not become familiar, but, it seemed, could flash in a crowd waiting for a train to arrive or leaving a factory.
“Carabinieri” was filmed in three weeks at the end of 1962, the group celebrated Christmas right in the field, not far from Orly airport, with a traditional line-up: Georges Beauregard brought the money, Raoul Coutard was behind the camera, Bernard Ortion fiddled with scenery and props. In particular, Ortion took out American jeeps on which heroes are carried and, of course, an impressive ammunition consisting of a beret, three Thompson submachine guns, a Mauser, a Luger and two bayonets, which were borrowed by familiar veterans of the First World War.
Scenes of the war - and especially the execution of prisoners - imitated the chronicle, which during the occupation was usually shown before a movie show. The scenes of the world resembled theatrical rehearsals. The main artistic achievement of the "Carabinieri", according to Charles Bitch, Godard and Coutard considered the work with the image - the 16-mm film was washed to such a state that each frame looked as if saved from the fire, and there was no gray at all in the black and white chromatic scale. shade. During the war, everything is extremely clear: either black or white. People, objects and phenomena are free to make a choice - either you are for, or you are against, or you are on the side of good or evil. A sentence has only a subject and a predicate. Dot. No participial revolutions after the decimal point.
Of course, "Carabinieri" failed at the box office. Already working on "Contempt", Godard went to one of the cinemas on the Champs Elysees on the day of the premiere and stated: by the beginning of the session there were forty people in the hall, by the end there were four. Criticism also did not spare the picture: all the conceptual decisions went unnoticed, many reviews were called "Indeed, in the last breath." The audience was enraged by Godard's tone. His frank bullying, perceived as pure cynicism. Particularly annoying was the episode in which Michelangelo and Ulysses, returning from the war, showed their wives the loot for an incredibly long time, taking out postcards with views of captured cities or photographs of raped girls from a suitcase. In war, as promised by the king, it is completely optional to pay in a restaurant, shop, brothel. Moreover, there is no need to pay the population of the enemy country. It was yours, it's ours. The only misfortune is that after the war one does not want to return to a world in which one again has to pay. So the war must go on and on and on...
France was not ready for the "Carabinieri", as well as 14 years later for "Monsieur Klein" Losey. The decision of the leadership not to talk with the French about either the “strange war” or the occupation led to the fact that only pretentious films like “The Longest Day” released in the same 1962 enjoyed success. In the war on the screen there is only a place for a feat. Everything else is fakes about the war, denigrating the prowess of the army.
In the rare interviews that accompanied the release, Godard tried to reach out to the viewer: “what is terrible in any war is that very quickly both those at war and those in the rear replace all emotions with complete stupefaction. And those who try to retain the ability to think just as quickly begin to experience only nausea. This is my film, shot with minimal means - without cannonades and fireworks. Of course, Godard's voice was not heard. The next time Godard returns to the topic of war, except for a few political paintings of the seventies, with the same unalloyed hatred, showing through in every line, in every plan, more than thirty years later, in Mozart Forever, a picture about the war in Yugoslavia. Enlightened Europeans go to Sarajevo with theatrical tours to soften morals. But the stage is already occupied. Of all the arts, war is the most important. The whole world is a theater of war.
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