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Returning to my hotel wearing only one shoe


A scene observed but never used
Jean-Claude Carrière Film-maker
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I remember seeing once in the metro... I was on the opposite platform, and there was a very violent scene between a man and a woman. The man was sitting like that, and the woman was going backwards and forwards, furious, telling him, 'You're pathetic! You pretend to be a great man, but you're pathetic! You are nothing, you have nothing!' and the guy was like that, defeated and speechless. The woman's litany was... simply absolutely amazing, and it only stopped when the train arrived, coming between the woman and myself. The train stopped, and they probably got on, I didn't see them, there were a lot of people, the train pulled away... and in front of me, the platform was empty. It was as if I had imagined that scene, I have never been able to place it anywhere, but it was amazing, that was real cinema, you just had to put your camera there, waiting for the train, and everything was there, including oblivion and including absence.

Je me souviens avoir vu une fois dans le métro, et j’étais sur le quai opposé, sur le quai en face, une scène très violente entre un homme et une femme. L’homme était assis comme ça, et la femme allait et venait devant lui comme ça, furieuse, en lui disant : tu n’es qu’un minable! Tu dis que tu es un seigneur mais tu n’es qu’un minable! Tu es un nul, tu n’as rien! Et l’homme était comme ça, abattu, ne disant rien. La litanie de phrases que cette femme lui a déversées on peut dire, c’était absolument extraordinaire et ça a été interrompu tout simplement par l’arrivée d’un métro qui est passé entre la femme et moi. Le métro s’est arrêté, ils sont probablement montés dans le métro, je ne les ai pas vus, il y avait beaucoup de monde, le métro est parti et le quai en face de moi était vide. C’était comme si j’avais moi même imaginé cette scène, je n’ai jamais pu la mettre où que ce soit, mais c’était formidable, c’était vraiment du cinéma. Il suffisait de mettre sa camera là, attendre le passage de métro, tout était là, y comprit l’oubli, y comprit l’absence.

French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière (1931-2021) began his association with films aged 24 when he was selected by Jacques Tati to write for him. This early experience led to further contact with other film-makers, including Luis Buñuel with whom Carrière collaborated for many years. He wrote screenplays for films including Belle de Jour, The Discreet Charms of the Bourgeoisie, Tin Drum and Danton.

Listeners: Andrzej Wolski

Film director and documentary maker, Andrzej Wolski has made around 40 films since 1982 for French television, the BBC, TVP and other TV networks. He specializes in portraits and in historical films. Films that he has directed or written the screenplay for include Kultura, which he co-directed with Agnieszka Holland, and KOR which presents the history of the Worker’s Defence Committee as told by its members. Andrzej Wolski has received many awards for his work, including the UNESCO Grand Prix at the Festival du Film d’Art.

Tags: Paris metro

Duration: 1 minute, 10 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2010

Date story went live: 18 October 2010