Un Siècle d'Écrivains: Antonin Artaud. 45:47 min., color, silent, 1992. Listed under Antonin Artaud. Ubuweb's description:
En janvier 1947 sur la scène du Vieux-Colombier, Artaud donne l'ultime représentation de son "Théâtre de la cruauté" : une scandaleuse et mémorable conférence où, pour s'incarner, il se déchire devant un public médusé. Un portrait non chronologique et structuré, plutôt que par sa vision du théâtre ou sa critique hallucinée de la société occidentale, par des motifs qui traversent tous les écrits d'Artaud : angoisse, impossibilité d'être au monde, incapacité à "atteindre" ses pensées.Uh oh. Looks like a job for Google Translate:
In January 1947 the scene of the Vieux-Colombier, Artaud gives the ultimate performance of his "Theatre of Cruelty" an outrageous and memorable conference where, to incarnate, he tears before a stunned audience. A portrait not structured chronologically, rather than his theatrical vision or hallucination of his critique of Western society, for reasons that go through all the writings of Artaud anxiety, inability to be the world's inability to "reach" its thoughts.Fair enough. This isn't so much by Antonin Artaud, the French writer/actor/dramatist, as it is about him. Makes sense, given that he died in 1948 and this was made in 2000. Production credit would seem to go to the equally French actor/producer/director André S. Labarthe. From what I can gather, it's one episode of a television series whose title translates to A Century of Writers. The video has no subtitles, so best of luck to the non-Francophones, myself included.
But film and television are fully audiovisual media: even if you can't understand what's being said, you can still experience the sound design and the play of images. I would venture to say that you could draw about 90 percent of full enjoyment from all my favorite films without understanding their dialogue. (And given how low-dialogue my own filmmaking aesthetic is turning out to to be, how much allegiance could I have to the stuff?) Donald Richie fell in love with Japanese cinema before he knew the language. In fact, watching movies in tongues I don't understand — which might as well just be "in tongues" — keeps with my recent self-styled cinematic training of watching things either completely without sound (so as to focus on the assembly of the visuals) or completely without images (so as to focus on the assembly of the sound). This would, I suppose, land somewhere between.
There are some pretty cool images here: architecturally-intensive tracking shots, a nude at a piano scoring a silent film-within-the-film. There are also some pretty pedestrian ones — several of them in the kind of runny slo-mo that only Wong Kar Wai has ever pulled off, and even then not really — and I can tell you now that, if you're into extreme close-ups of typewriter ribbons running through their machines, you're in for a treat. But strong or weak, these visuals seem to serve a technique of which I approve, and which I may not have seen as clearly had I been linguistically able to concentrate on words and narrative.
Labarthe's story of Artaud, you see, appears to be told mostly in voiceover, and the Artaud figure — the fellow in the white hat, I assume — only rarely enters the frame. What's actually shown onscreen is pitched intriguingly between the way fiction would deliver its materials and the way documentary would: old photographs and film clips, turntables, trains, floppy dogs, urban scenery, sketches, notebook page after writing-filled notebook page, and yes, that typewriter. At times, the imagery feels almost abstract, though again, that just be my noncomprehension on duty. As for the way that the words "ARTHUR RIMBAUD" morph into the words "ARTAUD" at the beginning, well, I got nothin'.