India Song (1975, Marguerite Duras)

I brought this book to read on the plane, but the book turned out to be a play, and I finished it before we boarded. It’s not much of a book – there’s mostly stillness and offstage sounds and atmosphere – so I thought I’d watch the newly-restored film while it was still fresh in my head. From the start the order of scenes is shuffled, opening with the beggar woman (never seen), the voices and music separate from onscreen action (not in sync with the scene we’re watching, discussing outdoor lights while the camera is indoors).

Delphine and Claude, with Mathieu Carrière (the guy being followed in The Aviator’s Wife) sitting up:

Delphine Seyrig plays the main character, what slight character there is, loved by both Claude Mann (the Bay of Angels star with blond 80’s hair) and, from afar, Michael Lonsdale (who was in two Losey movies the same year). Stillness, slow dancing and gradual lighting changes, the atmosphere finally broken by Lonsdale’s offscreen screams over an hour in.

Duras’s sixth feature as director, with great use of mirrors in the staging. The India Song itself, by composer Carlos D’Alessio, is great too. Nominated for Césars, losing to Black Moon and a Zulawski – a very arthouse year. Played out of competition at Cannes with Tommy, Moses & Aron and those Loseys, the year that Chronicle of the Years of Fire and The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser took the top prizes. Super interesting and innovative – on the other hand it put me to sleep more than once – Dave Kehr called it “extremely boring in rather fascinating ways.”

Related posts