Duras, Marguerite

(1914-1996)
   Director and screenwriter. Marguerite Duras was born Marguerite Donnadieu in Gia Dinh, Vietnam, during the period of French colonization of what was then Indochina. Her parents were teachers. Her father fell ill and returned to France in 1918 and died in 1921. Duras lived in France with her family for a few years and then relocated to Indochina with her mother and brothers in 1924. Her mother struggled to support them on a teacher's salary. Duras left for France again in 1932, and earned a degree in law and political science at the Sorbonne. She later worked for the French Colonial Office. In 1942, during the German Occupation, Duras joined the French Resistance. Her husband, Robert Antelme, was taken to the Dachau concentration camp and was rescued by François Mitterand. The Holocaust would become one of the central themes of her work. Her first novel, Les Impudents, was published in 1943. Her later novel, Un barrage, was the basis for René Clement's 1958 film, This Angry Age. In 1960, Moderato Cantabile was adapted for Peter Brook's film of the same name.
   Duras entered the cinema more directly when Alain Resnais invited her to write the script of his film, Hiroshima mon amour (1959), and in fact, both she and Resnais would often be grouped under the same critical rubrics by scholars, including le nouveau cinéma, or new cinema, and cinéastes rive gauche, or Left Bank directors. She has also been linked with Agnès Varda, both through her feminist approaches and her categorization as an avant-garde artist. Duras also scripted Henri Colpi's Une aussi longue absence (1961) and codirected La Musica (1967) with Paul Seban. Duras was a widely respected novelist, screenwriter, and left-wing intellectual before her independent directorial debut, Détruire dit-elle (1969). She also published a text of the same name with Les Editions de Minuit in 1969. Both works were shaped in part by the events of May 1968.
   Duras's films were frequently interwoven with her novels and plays — she referred to films as "un livre sur la pelicule" (a book on film), though she resisted conventional cinematic adaptations of her texts. While her films, like her novels, are clearly autobiographical, intentional contradictions in her interviews and writing suggest both a resistance to readings of her work as strictly autobiographical and also recognition of the fragility of powerful, yet unreliable and chaotic memories. Her preoccupation with the voice (and also the sound of silence) in her writing was reflected in her foregrounding of sound in her films.
   In the 1970s, Duras directed some of her most well-known works, among them Nathalie Granger (1972) and India Song (1975). India Song, starring Delphine Seyrig, is Duras's most prominent film. In India Song, off-screen voices are dislocated from the image track and seem to function independently. Duras reemployed the soundtrack of India Song for her next film, Son Nom Venise dans Calcutta désert (1976), yet created a new set of images.
   Duras's next major film was Le Camion (1977), in which she appeared with Gérard Depardieu. Filmed in Duras's home, Le Camion features Depardieu reading from an unrehearsed script. The film's unusual approach to acting, her real recording of an imagined film, and her complex presentation of narrative has received energetic critical attention. Duras continued to foreground actors' reading of scripts in Le Navire Night (1979), where she reads alongside director Benoît Jacquot. The soundtrack of the film recounts a romance conducted via telephone, while the visual track conjures images of Paris. The disjuncture between sound and image is a hallmark of Duras's films. Duras directed lesser-known works in the 1970s, some of which have limited distribution: Jaune le soleil (1971), La Femme du Gange (1973)—both starring Catherine Sellers—Des journées entières dans les arbres (1976), with Madeleine Renaud and Bulle Ogier, and Baxter, Vera Baxter (1976), with Seyrig and Claudine Gabay. In 1979, four short films by Duras were released: Césarée, Les Mains négatives, Aurélia Steiner (Melbourne), and Aurélia Steiner (Vancouver). The last and longest of the four was inspired by Elie Wiesel's memories of the Holocaust recorded in his autobiographical novel, Night (1958).
   In the early 1980s, Duras directed Agatha et les lectures illimités (1981), a film about forbidden love featuring the images of actors Ogier and Yann Andréa and the voices of Andréa and Duras. In L'Homme atlantique, Duras projected a black screen through much of the film as she reads from her novel of the same name. After L'Homme atlantique, she made Il Dialogo di Roma (1982) and her final film, Les Enfants (1985), codirected with her son, Jean Mascolo, and Jean-Marc Turine. In the mid-1980s, Duras departed from the cinema and focused on her writing. Her novel L'Amant won the prestigious Goncourt Prize in 1984. Jean-Jacques Annaud adapted the novel for his film, The Lover. Duras disagreed with his representation of her work.
   See also Women.
   Historical Dictionary of French Cinema by Dayna Oscherwitz & Mary Ellen Higgins

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Duras, Marguerite — (Marguerite Donnadieu / April 4, 1914, Gia Dinh, French Cochin China [now Vietnam] March 3, 1996, Paris, France)    Born to French parents, both schoolteachers, she spent her childhood and adolescence in French Cochin China and Cambodia (with two …   Encyclopedia of French film directors

  • Duras, Marguerite — orig. Marguerite Donnadieu born April 4, 1914, Gia Dinh, Cochinchina died March 3, 1996, Paris, France French novelist, playwright, film director, and screenwriter. Indochina was the setting for Duras s first successful novel, The Sea Wall (1950) …   Universalium

  • Duras, Marguerite — (1914 1996)    Director and screenwriter. Marguerite Duras was born Marguerite Donnadieu in Gia Dinh, Vietnam, during the period of French colonization of what was then Indochina. Her parents were teachers. Her father fell ill and returned to… …   Historical Dictionary of French Cinema

  • Duras, Marguerite — (1914 1996)    novelist, playwright, screenwriter, film writer Born Marguerite Dennadieu in French Indochina, Marguerite Duras as she is known, was left in poverty by the death of her father when she was four, leaving her mother struggling to… …   France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present

  • Duras, Marguerite — orig. Marguerite Donnadieu (4 abr. 1914, Gia Dinh, Cochinchina–3 mar. 1996, París, Francia). Novelista, dramaturga, directora de cine y guionista francesa. Indochina fue el escenario de la primera novela exitosa de Duras, Un dique contra el… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Duras, Marguerite — • ДЮРА , Дюрас (Duras) Маргерит (р. 4.4.1914)    франц. писательница, сценарист, режиссёр. Училась в Парижском ун те. Как романист дебютировала в 1943. Нек рые из её романов экранизированы реж.: Р. Клеманом Плотина на Тихом океане (1957); П.… …   Кино: Энциклопедический словарь

  • Marguerite Duras — Born 4 April 1914(1914 04 04) Saigon, Vietnam Died 3 March 1996(1996 03 03) Paris …   Wikipedia

  • Marguerite Duras — Nacimiento …   Wikipedia Español

  • Duras (lot-et-garonne) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Duras. Duras Duras vue du château …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Duras — (Marguerite Donnadieu, dite Marguerite) (1914 1996) écrivain et cinéaste français. Romans: Un barrage contre le Pacifique (1950), Moderato cantabile (1958), l Amant (1983). Théâtre: les Viaducs de Seine et Oise (1960). Scénario: Hiroshima mon… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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