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Out on the town with Man Ray


Differences between Europe and America
Jules Engel Film-maker
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The interesting thing about that world, that when you're doing you... no one asked me, 'Have you ever done anything like that?' They don't ask those things. 'You want to do a film? Okay, we do a film. You want to paint? We're going to paint', you know? Here it's different because here they ask you, 'What have you done?' You see, I was involved with a play... what is the name of this play where this kid goes on a war… very famous French literature...?

[Q] Le Petit Prince?

Is what?

[Q] Le Petit Prince

Le Petit Prince, yeah. So here we are, going to do the [Le] Petit Prince. And this guy who was going to be on the stage is from Belgium, fluent French, fluent French and he teaches school in Belgium and he teaches school at Paris and then he eventually became the head of the French Cinémathéque, was the head of that, yeah. And the interesting thing, we did that film, I mean, we did that play, Le Petit Prince. And again, it's one of those things, we did it, we ran for a month, you know, I didn't get a dime. I didn't get a dime out of it. I don't know what the leading man got because it's only the two of us, you know? But he was on the stage constantly, but I did all the artwork because it's a lot of animation in the film, in the story. So I did all that, you know, and more. And we worked... when the rehearsal, we worked whether I would tell him, 'Go a little faster, go a little slower', and stuff like that. But you can't do that here. No way. I mean, here was a guy, does a lead and I'm working with him and no one ask me, 'Have I done anything like that before'? You know? Just, 'You want to do it? Well, let's do it'. That's the beauty of it. The only other problem is, who's going to take the money home and who's not going to take anything home? That's just one of those things. But that's French, that's French, whatever that is, you know? But it's more in fun. It's fun, you know? You're doing something. And it's very interesting because a guy who did the lead, a very fine actor, and they wanted him for a lead of a particular play, I forget. He turned it down. He turned it down. And it would have been thousands of dollars for him because it played for three years in Paris. And he turned it down, he didn't like it. And it was a good play, a good play. It was something about that didn't fit his personality, he said, 'No thank you'. And the guy comes in and next thing he's offered three years in Paris on the stage with that play. A famous play, a very famous play, yeah. But these are the characteristic. And then you, when you go into that world, you have to be a little bit aware that you're not in Los Angeles or you're not in New York. This is, this is France. This is Europe. But this is French, this is French. And if you're comfortable, it's fun and you have a good time. But don't expect them to function or behave like we do here. It's not the same thing. They make an appointment with you at 10:30, you're lucky if they show up at 12:00. I mean… And they don't say, 'I'm sorry'. No excuses, you know? No nothing because they show up an hour and-a-half later. And that's, again, the texture there, you know? You have to buy that, you have to accept that and... So we lived there for three years and it was fun, but eventually I had to get the hell out of Paris. Because it's not today, it's yesterday. The lifestyle, the thinking, the buying, the selling, it's yesterday. It's not today. But you enjoy the place because it's special, it's beautiful, it's magical but I prefer New York today, what the world is, not Paris. Yes, Paris is beautiful, don't misunderstand me, but the texture is in New York, what today's about.

The late Hungarian-American film-maker Jules Engel is best known for his contribution to the field of animation. His work includes the dance sequences in Walt Disney's 'Fantasia' and the creation of 'Mr Magoo'. His films and lithographs are housed in museums all over the world and have won many awards.

Listeners: Tamara Tracz Bill Moritz

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

William Moritz received his doctorate from USC and pursues parallel careers as filmmaker and writer. His forty-four experimental and animation films have been screened at museums in Paris, Amsterdam and Tokyo, among others. He published widely on Oskar Fischinger, James Whitney, Bruce Conner, the Fleischers and 200 pages of animation history for an AbsolutVodka website. He wrote chapters for the "Oxford History of Cinema", appeared in several television documentaries, curated art exhibits and received a lifetime achievement trophy from the Netherlands Royal Academy for his work with visual music. He has served on film festival juries and received an American Film Institute filmmaking grant. His poetry and plays are also performed and published. He is a leading expert of Oskar Fischinger and recently published a biography of him. He teaches at The California Institute of the Arts.

Tags: Le Petit Prince, France, Belgium, French Cinémathéque, Los Angeles, New York

Duration: 5 minutes, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008