Alain Resnais (R) at work.
“It matters not what I want to really mean in my movies. But it matters how each viewer realizes it with his/her own feelings” – Alain Resnais (1922-2014)
Not long after my arrival in Paris at the end of my two-month-long visit to Bangladesh, I came to know that Alain Resnais - a great filmmaker of France as well as the whole world, was no more. He passed away on March 1, 2014. A melancholic feeling of losing a dear one filled my heart. He was a maestro who led the group, adding a new dimension to French films with the help of their creativity, new technology and vibrancy. He was one of the filmmakers who brought about what critics term as 'Cinema du nouveau' (nouvelle vague) period.
Born in the city of Vannes in the north-western part of France, Renais embarked on the art of capturing views with his 8 mm long camera, a gift from his father, at the age of 13. His higher education was in film editing. Then his journey for short films started. Finally, he came up with full-length films that earned him global acclaim.
Back in 1945-1946, Resnais along with my mime guru Marcel Marceau took part in the battle against Germany as it had captured France during the Second World War. He also came to meet Marceau in a theatre school in Paris, and their friendship developed. Not long after the war, he made a film “Night and Fog” depicting the torture unleashed by Nazi men in the concentration camps. Some outstanding short films in addition to worldwide-circulating movies earned him fame and critical acclaim overnight. His first movie “Hiroshima mon amour”, released in 1959, is still an awe-inspiring movie in France as well as the whole world. His movie in 1969 shed light on contemporary issues. Of his later works, “Je t'aime Je t'aime” was a movie based on science fiction.
Politics and war were in the centre of many of his movie plots. I was fortunate enough to work with him in his film in 2006, and to watch him closely. The cool-tempered man impressed me the very day we met. It was for only 10 days that I got the opportunity to learn from him. When I went to bid him farewell, he embraced me and asked me to stay back for a while for a drink. Then he said, “Do you know why I chose you for this role in my movie? The image of this character cannot be portrayed aptly by normal artists. It requires mime training. I know you have been the most favourite student of my friend Marcel Marceau. When you see him, please convey my regards to him. It has been quite long since we met.”
Later, I came to know he shot two short films on Marcel Marceau. The movie I played a role in 2006 was named “le cœur” (“Heart”). During his 60-year career in films, he made 23 short films and 20 full-length movies. In addition, he edited 18 movies, wrote scripts for three and played roles in two. He was conferred with innumerable awards, including France's most prestigious César Award, 'Golden Lion' at the Venice Film Festival (1960) and a Silver Lion, a Grand Prix at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival (and a Lifetime Achievement in 2009), the 'Golden Star' by French press, and three 'Silver Bear' awards from Berlin Film Festival.
A few days before the release of his final movie, he breathed his last. As it appears, he got immersed in the words of his last movie title “Love, Drink and Sing”.
Paris-based Bangladeshi artiste Partha Pratim Majumder is an internationally-renowned mime performer.