Sunday, December 05, 2010

Jean-Pierre Melville the Jazz Musician

I love this quote from Bertrand Tavernier about Jean-Pierre Melville's crime films. I think he nails the high artistry Melville achieves, even though he is not as philosophically oriented (or wordy perhaps?) as some of the Nouvelle Vague contemporaries in the middle '60s.

TAVERNIER: "...those films I will not say are philosophical, but they are like thoughtful reexamination of a genre, like a jazz musician would take a standard by Gershwin and redo it in his own way. He is taking-- He's taking This Gun for Hire, combine it maybe with one or two other films, and he makes his own version. He is playing part of the melody, but in such a way that it's-- he has taken different chords, playing with different kind of harmonies, yet you have the melody." - Tavernier in 2008 on an interview on the Criterion DVD for Melville's Le Deuxième Souffle (1966).

While many Melville films have enjoyed quite a high profile, such as Le Samouraï (1967), when I see one as incredible as this (Le Deuxième Souffle), I wonder why it has been relegated to the shadows for so long-- and I then wonder how many other awesome Melville films are out there that we still can't see...! I don't think this film was even on VHS, so this really is a treat of a release. Check it out now!

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