Friday, August 14, 2015

Moderato Cantabile

In 1958 Marguerite Duras published her novel Moderato Cantabile. In 1960 the English translation by Richard Seaver was published. Also in 1960 the author's screenplay of the French text was made into a film directed by Peter Brook starring Jeanne Moreau and Jean-Paul Belmondo. For this film Moreau won Best Actress at Cannes.

In the novel and in the film there is a murder, but it occurs in the first scene and concerns people whose names are never known. The otherwise featureless "plot" follows two accidental witnesses to the murder, who discover a mutual drive to explore its meaning. Moderato Cantabile the film was made one year after Hiroshima Mon Amour, another Duras screenplay revolving around a similar New Wave non-romance.

"Anne Desbaresdes has just declined to take any of the duck. And yet the platter is still there before her, only for a brief moment, but long enough for everybody to notice. She raises her hand, as she has been taught to do, to emphasize her refusal. The platter is removed. Silence settles on the table."

Below, Marguerite Duras in foreground with Jeanne Moreau looking over her shoulder from behind on another film project in 1974, fifteen years after their Moderato Cantabile collaboration.