dimanche 26 septembre 2010

This is indeed Life itself !

La littérature tient une place importante dans l'oeuvre de Jean-Luc Godard. J'avais déjà mentionné un premier exemple ici (Eluard, dans Alphaville).

En voici un autre, extrait de Vivre sa Vie (ce qui me permet de clore la série d'articles consacrée à ce film). Dans le dernier des douze tableaux du film, l'un des personnages (d'ailleurs doublé par Godard) lit des passages d'une nouvelle d'Edgar Poe, le Portrait Ovale.

J'ai le choix ici de la reproduire en langue française, tel que dans le film, dans la traduction de Baudelaire. Ou bien dans sa version originale.

Je choisis la seconde option.
Les plus organisés d'entre vous, pourront copier-coller-imprimer le texte...

Quant aux plus pressés, ils peuvent passer directement au troisième paragraphe, puisqu'il s'agit de l'explication du "making of" de ce portrait si troublant, aperçu puis contemplé pendant près d'une heure quelques lignes plus haut par un visiteur :

"A la longue, ayant découvert le vrai secret de son effet, je me laissai retomber sur le lit. J’avais deviné que le charme de la peinture était une expression vitale absolument adéquate à la vie elle-même, qui d’abord m’avait fait tressaillir, et finalement m’avait confondu, subjugué, épouvanté."

I thus saw in vivid light a picture all unnoticed before. It was the portrait of a young girl just ripening into womanhood. I glanced at the painting hurriedly, and then closed my eyes. Why I did this was not at first apparent even to my own perception. But while my lids remained thus shut, I ran over in mind my reason for so shutting them. It was an impulsive movement to gain time for thought--to make sure that my vision had not deceived me--to calm and subdue my fancy for a more sober and more certain gaze. In a very few moments I again looked fixedly at the painting.

The portrait, I have already said, was that of a young girl. It was a mere head and shoulders, done in what is technically termed a vignette manner; much in the style of the favorite heads of Sully. The arms, the bosom and even the ends of the radiant hair, melted imperceptibly into the vague yet deep shadow which formed the background of the whole. The frame was oval, richly gilded and filagreed in Moresque. As a thing of art nothing could be more admirable than the painting itself. But it could have been neither the execution of the work, nor the immortal beauty of the countenance, which had so suddenly and so vehemently moved me. Least of all, could it have been that my fancy, shaken from its half slumber, had mistaken the head for that of a living person [...] At length, satisfied with the true secret of its effect, I fell back within the bed. I had found the spell of the picture in an absolute life-likeliness of expression, which at first startling, finally confounded, subdued and appalled me. With deep and reverent awe I replaced the candelabrum in its former position. The cause of my deep agitation being thus shut from view, I sought eagerly the volume which discussed the paintings and their histories. Turning to the number which designated the oval portrait, I there read the vague and quaint words which follow:

"She was a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely than full of glee. And evil was the hour when she saw, and loved, and wedded the painter. He, passionate, studious, austere, and having already a bride in his Art; she a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely than full of glee: all light and smiles, and frolicksome as the young fawn: loving and cherishing all things: hating only the Art which was her rival: dreading only the pallet and brushes and other untoward instruments which deprived her of the countenance of her lover. It was thus a terrible thing for this lady to hear the painter speak of his desire to pourtray even his young bride. But she was humble and obedient, and sat meekly for many weeks in the dark high turret-chamber where the light dripped upon the pale canvas only from overhead. But he, the painter, took glory in his work, which went on from hour to hour and from day to day. And he was a passionate, and wild and moody man, who became lost in reveries; so that he would not see that the light which fell so ghastlily in that lone turret withered the health and the spirits of his bride, who pined visibly to all but him. Yet she smiled on and still on, uncomplainingly, because she saw that the painter, (who had high renown,) took a fervid and burning pleasure in his task, and wrought day and night to depict her who so loved him, yet who grew daily more dispirited and weak. And in sooth some who beheld the portrait spoke of its resemblance in low words, as of a mighty marvel, and a proof not less of the power of the painter than of his deep love for her whom he depicted so surpassingly well. But at length, as the labor drew nearer to its conclusion, there were admitted none into the turret; for the painter had grown wild with the ardor of his work, and turned his eyes from the canvas rarely, even to regard the countenance of his wife. And he would not see that the tints which he spread upon the canvas were drawn from the cheeks of her who sate beside him. And when many weeks had passed, and but little remained to do, save one brush upon the mouth and one tint upon the eye, the spirit of the lady again flickered up as the flame within the socket of the lamp. And then the brush was given, and then the tint was placed; and, for one moment, the painter stood entranced before the work which he had wrought; but in the next, while he yet gazed he grew tremulous and very pallid, and aghast and crying with a loud voice, 'This is indeed Life itself!' turned suddenly to regard his beloved: -- She was dead!"

the Oval Portrait, Edgar Poe (1842)
Texte Intégral

Vivre sa Vie
, Jean-Luc Godard (1962)

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