Jit wrote me the other day that he thought Marguerite Duras had surely a very peculiar way of directing.
I remember that she was very proud of INDIA SONG.
She had recorded previously the music and the dialogue, and played this soundtrack during the shooting, so that the actors didn´t have to bother about speaking their parts: they just had to listen to themselves.
In INDIA SONG there are moments where Delphine Seyrig, Mathieu Carriere or Michael Lonsdale don´t even open their mouths. They are there, as memories of the voices, presents and absents, like memories are, like ghosts are.
Of course, Duras thought that was a discovery and a stroke of genius.
She was her fan number one, and humility was not one of her virtues. But she was right!
Asked during the tournage of AGATHA OU LES LECTURES ILLIMITÉES why she had engaged Bulle Ogier to say nothing, to remain silent, she answered: pour la couper de sa voix (to cut her from her voice). Which is meant as "taking posession of her voice, making it mine". And doing this, to show just the body.
The bodies in INDIA SONG.
I remember the three of them, lying on the floor, heavy flesh under the heat.
I wrote to Jit that Bresson worked in a parallel way: exhausting so much the actors that, after repeating 40 times the same scene, they abandoned themselves and started acting unconciously, automatically.
This same search of what the body will do or what the body will "say" once it is separated from the words.
There is this scene in WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES where the mob breaks into the hospital and destroys everything. And then suddenly there is this shot of the naked old man and everything stops.
This is one of the most powerful scenes in cinema, and pardon the over-the-topness. But it is!
And what it shows is the evidence of a body.
Its majesty and its presence. Its indeniability.
We are, first of all, bodies.