Rideau! - video still

Video editing, 02 mn 34.

Quand l’amour a disparu
Quand le cœur s’en est allé
Du côté des jamais, plus jamais
On ne peut que regretter
L’amour envolé.

[When love has disappeared
When the heart has gone the way
Of saying never, never again
What can you do but lament
The love that has flown away.]

The creation of Curtain! consisted in making the character of Solange Garnier, played by Françoise Dorléac, disappear from a duet in Jacques Demy’s Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (The Young Girls of Rochefort). Removed from the film mostly by way of mirror effects, she has been supplanted by a clone of Catherine Deneuve, who moves and sings by her side throughout the sequence.

The piece makes implicit reference to Françoise Dorélac’s untimely death in an auto accident in June 1967, just a few months after the film’s release. The sequence’s lyrics strangely echo that fatal summer, and the use of moving mattes, which repeatedly create empty spaces in the image, serves as one of the video’s principal metaphors.

Speaking strictly of her figurative representation in the video, nothing but fleeting traces of the actress remain. More than simply being invited to look for the traces of her, the viewer is prompted to remember the young woman’s performance through the performance of her sister Catherine Deneuve, who executes nearly the same movements and steps as she did. Despite the video’s artificial duplication, which ironically accentuates the relationship the Garnier sisters have as twins in the film by reinforcing their physical resemblance, the work prevents a symmetrical relationship between the two. Rather than simply using a mirror effect, Curtain! desynchronizes some of the choreography, which, by inserting a series of slight gaps between Catherine Deneuve’s movements, implies the idea of a duality and restores their proper identity to each of the twins. Practically intact despite the intentional removal of an entire verse from the song, the soundtrack plays on this same ambiguity by restoring the voice of the disappeared sister.

While the video tests the viewer’s ability to recall the film, highlighting his ability to reconstruct it in detail with the help of the reference points and other supporting elements offered by the video, it is primarily engaged with the question of mourning and the power of time to heal the wounds inflicted by the death of a loved one. While grieving the end of summer, the twins song celebrates life and invites the viewer to appreciate its pleasures; and while the moving mattes and artificially manipulated curtains mask entire portions of the image at moments, they also create the sense that the image is opening up and revealing perspectives that seemed lost. There is thus a certain optimism to the work, encouraging the viewer to forget his troubles so as to better immerse himself in the whirling eddies of life.

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Copyright © 2016 Laurent Fiévet