By MCN Editor

Pialat/Godard (1984), translated by Craig Keller

JEAN-LUC GODARD:  I think what gets called an “auteur film” has been a real — in the end every catastrophe is beneficial, maybe — but has been a real catastrophe, and those who get called auteurs [authors] these days in movies, people wouldn’t dare call them auteurs in literature.

MAURICE PIALAT: […] Wrong or right, those I recognize as having always had something like ambition, that gets closer to the auteur, but the auteur as he’s understood in theatre. In fact, what I have regrets about in all my films has to do sometimes with the absence of the scenario, and even when it’s there, it’s too diffuse, poorly put together, not worked out enough. And when it comes right down to it, if I continue making films in a certain sphere, and since we’re condemned to intimist cinema due to a lack of access to funding, I’d essentially have to turn into a writer — whereas I don’t consider myself a writer — I have a lot of trouble writing — I’d end up writing a film the way one writes a theatrical play. I don’t think it’s what you yourself are looking to do; you’ve shown as much up to the present.
GODARD: When “auteur” gets said, it conjures up what became of Duvivier, or even Carné in a sense… I mean: the subject was no longer there; you find it more in Guitry, Pagnol, or Cocteau, or in Renoir, who was accused of doing rush-jobs, and we said: No, he rushes things through in the name of a superior interest. This is what it was, this auteur notion. Or because it was in your self-interest, or out of fatigue, or out of going off and having a good time…
PIALAT: Neither out of self-interest nor going off having a good time.
GODARD: Are you being serious?
PIALAT: Oh, of course I am!
GODARD: Because for me, I realized that whenever I’d say that, actually, itwasn’t sincere. I said to myself: “I’d really like for once to shoot a film on the equivalent of the big soundstage at MGM, or have a big film to make every now and then.” But I see that that wasn’t really me being sincere.
PIALAT: I put a lot of time into mulling it over, and I continue to believe that you have to have a decent budget to shoot. I think the importance, the quality of the means at hand, exert their influence on the merit of the works produced. Not a little bit — a lot. After shooting Loulou [1980] I had the desire to write a book, as objectively as possible, which would have revisited the script pages, the notes in the margins. I let it go because I figured it would put people to sleep. But the shoot of the film had been exhausting. The three lead actors were no longer around at the end of the shoot, they’d all taken off. I had to wait one year before redoing continuity shots.
Pialat/Godard (1984), translated by Craig Keller

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