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Marguerite as She Was

A Film by Dominique Auvray

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Marguerite Duras (1914-1996) - best-known as the author of The Lover and for the screenplay for Hiroshima, Mon Amour (the classic 1960 New Wave film directed by Alain Resnais) - was one of the most prolific, controversial, and renowned cultural figures in post-war France. Between 1943 (when she published her first book) and 1995 (when she published her last - That's All), Duras directed 19 films and wrote more than 70 novels, plays, movies and adaptations.

A friend of Duras, Dominique Auvray was also the editor of three of her films: Baxter, Vera Baxter (1976), Le Camion (1977) and Le Navire Night (1978). Given access to an amazing breadth of archival materials, photographs, television interviews, extracts from Duras' films, and home movies from the 1950's through the 1990's, Auvray has crafted a personal portrait of the woman.

Speaking about her youth and family, Duras discusses her mother and brothers in Indochina and their transposition in Un Barrage Contre Le Pacifique. She also describes her move to Paris to study at the Sorbonne, her loves and friendships there (the famous Rue Saint-Benoit group of 50's Paris, with Robert Antelme, her first husband, Dyonis Mascolo, the father of her son, Edgar Morin, Claude Roy, and many others).

film still

Duras also speaks of her work, her political engagements, and social commitments. And we see her directing a rehearsal of Savannah Bay with Bulle Ogier and Madeleine Renaud in 1984, and on the set of Agatha (1981) and Nathalie Granger (1972), which was shot in her own home.

Throughout the film Marguerite Duras goes from pain to joy, from the serious to the anecdotal, with lightning speed. As it moves along with the years, themes and locations of her life, MARGUERITE AS SHE WAS becomes a moving portrait of a complex woman, mother, journalist, militant, friend, filmmaker and writer.

"This loving portrait of the writer and filmmaker... is poetic, allusive and elusive - much like her art. The video is suffused with her passion for literature, the process of writing, and cinema."—The Chicago Reader

"Highly Recommended! A masterful introduction to a woman of great depth and consequence. Few documentary makers are able to create the sense of intimacy between subject and viewer that Dominique Auvray has... A treasure trove of documents, television footage and still images are...brought to life by fluid camera work. The most striking undercurrent throughout the film is Duras' approach to revenge as motivation to write and to right the past wrongs. Students will be tempted to seek greater understanding of this woman... Auvray leaves the audience curious and fascinated with Duras. "—Educational Media Reviews Online

"Touching and intimate... The English subtitles are well done and accurately convey what is heard; the quality of the sound and the picture is excellent. Highly recommended! "—Library Journal

"Engaging… A vivid portrayal of a dimensional Marguerite Duras: writer, woman, mother, social activist, journalist, friend and filmmaker. The montage-like composite is especially fitting for Duras, because she almost always wrote as if she were of two minds (a participant and an observer), with the result that nearly all her work is personal and (at some level) autobiographical. One of the chief virtues of this film is a gracefulness and subtlety that is too often lacking in documentary profiles. As an exemplar of its genre…this film should be of value in a wide range of areas, including film criticism, women's studies, and modern literature."—Leonardo - Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology

"Tip of the Week Selection! [The film has] incredible charm."—New City Chicago

2005 National Women's Studies Association Film Festival
2003 Michel-Mitrani Prize, FIPA
2003 Montreal International Festival of New Cinema and New Media
2003 Belfort Film Festival (France)

61 minutes / Color
English / English subtitles
Release: 2003
Copyright: 2002

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This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Biographies, French Culture, Literature, Theater, Western Europe, Women's Studies

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