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Growing up with Russian cinema

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So yes, I confirm it. I am indeed Raoul Coutard. According to what I have been told, I was born on the 16th of September 1924, in Paris, at the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital. My mother was actually born there, which means that I am a true Parisian, of at least two generations- My maternal family came to Paris in 1870 and it was quite interesting because my grandfather who was very young when he arrived, was obviously- It was during the war, he was on the federates' side. Which means that my entire maternal family was a left-wing family- in fact we had a large red flag of the Tours congress in the house. And obviously, I was brought up listening to stories about Louise Michel, the federates, etc. Of the Commune? Of the Commune. So. My Dad was from Mayenne. He was extremely unlucky because he had just finished his military service, which at the time lasted three years, in 1914, which means that he endured four years of war, which meant that he served seven years as a soldier. And then, they thought it wasn't enough, so they sent him to do two years in Germany during the occupation. So all in all he got stuck serving nine years in the army. And- Did he talk to you about it? No, he didn't talk about it much. I talked to him about it, because I mean at the time. There was a tremendous number of injured people etc. who trailed around the streets, there were loads of disabled people driving around in their little bangers, there were all those people we called 'broken faces'. So obviously the war was still something relatively present. And I mean he didn't really like about those- to talk about the problems he had during the war. He was obviously very close to my mother's brother, and that must be why he married her. My father, on the other hand, he worked as an accountant for the factories- Not the factories- At the Hoffmann-Laroche Headquarters, the pharmaceutical products. I had more or less, a relatively happy childhood, it was a time when women stayed at home to look after the children, so I was really pampered by my mother. I mean maybe- maybe a little too much, but well.
Bon alors donc, je confirme. Je suis bien Raoul Coutard. D'après ce qu'on m'a raconté, je suis né le 16 septembre 1924 à Paris, à l'hôpital de l'Hôtel-Dieu. Ma mère était d'ailleurs née à cet endroit-là, ce qui fait que je suis vraiment un Parisien, au moins deux générations- Ma famille maternelle était venue à Paris en 1870 et c'était assez intéressant parce que mon grand-père qui était tout jeune à l'époque quand il est arrivé, naturellement il a été- C'était pendant la guerre, il était du côté des fédérés. Ce qui fait que disons toute ma famille maternelle était une famille de gauche- Il y avait d'ailleurs le grand drapeau rouge du congrès de Tours qui était dans la maison. Et naturellement j'ai été élevé en écoutant les histoires de Louise Michel, des fédérés, etc. De la Commune ? De la Commune. Bon. Mon père était lui de la Mayenne. Alors il avait une chance extraordinaire parce qu'il venait de finir son service militaire qui durait à l'époque trois ans, en 1914, ce qui fait qu'il s'est tapé quatre ans de guerre, ce qui lui a fait donc sept ans comme militaire. Et puis on a trouvé ce n'était pas assez, on l'a envoyé deux ans en occupation en Allemagne. Donc il s'est tapé neuf ans d'armée. Il t'en parlait de ça ? Il n'en parlait pas beaucoup non. Je lui en parlais, parce que je veux dire à l'époque. Il y avait énormément de gens qui étaient des blessés etc. qui se trimballaient dans les rues, il y avait plein de mutilés qui se baladaient avec leur petite bagnole, il y avait tous ces gens qu'on appelait les gueules cassées. Donc forcément la guerre était quand même encore un truc relativement présent. Et il n'aimait pas beaucoup, je veux dire- Disons parler de ses problèmes qu'il avait eus pendant la guerre. Il était naturellement très copain avec le frère de ma mère, c'est comme ça qu'il a dû l'épouser. Mon père travaillait lui par contre comme comptable dans les usines- Pas les usines- A la direction des produits pharmaceutiques Hoffmann-Laroche. Moi j'ai eu disons une enfance qui était relativement heureuse, c'était encore l'époque où les femmes restaient à la maison pour s'occuper des enfants, donc j'ai été chouchouté par ma mère. Peut-être je veux dire- Peut-être un peu trop je veux dire, mais enfin bon.

French cinematographer, Raoul Coutard, has been nominated twice for the César Award for best cinematography which he won in 1978 for 'Le Crabe-tambour'. He has made over 75 films and documentaries, including 'À Bout de Souffle', Le Mépris' and 'Band à Part'. He remains the most acclaimed French cinematographer of his generation and one of the key figures of the New Wave.

Listeners: Bernard Cohn

Bernard Cohn est un réalisateur et écrivain français, ayant réalisé cinq film ainsi que de nombreux reportages et séries télévisées. En tant qu'assistant réalisateur, il a travaillé avec plusieurs grands cinéastes, notamment Luis Buñuel, François Truffaut, Otto Preminger et Woody Allen. Il fut membre fondateur du ciné-club Ciné-Qua-Non et a participé à la rédaction et traduction en anglais, de plusieurs ouvrages sur le cinéma.

Benard Cohn is a French filmmaker and writer, who has directed five films as well as numerous documentaries and television series. As an assistant director, he worked with many important filmmakers, including Luis Buñuel, François Jacob, Otto Preminger and Woody Allen. He was a founding member of the Ciné-Qua-Non cinema club and has acted as editor and translator for various publications on the world of cinema.

Duration: 2 minutes, 57 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008