Philippe Garrel's Les amants réguliers (dear MUBI, please don't use the horrific English title) came back to my mind while watching the news (including CNN) about the Middle East and Syria. Having friends somewhere far can make you watch television and look for the news. This is when remembering Les Amants réguliers brought back a nagging question: how can a film become newsreels? Newsreels of the past. A documentary report of things that were never filmed. Looking at some photos of Paris in May '68, you can see these young boys and girls, these gestures, these actions...but who ever filmed what they did just after or before the demonstration? The way they loved and doubted? The way they really lived to change the world? There are so many so-called historical films, from Gladiator to Days of Glory or Saving Private Ryan, but never a feeling that one is watching the newsreels of the past. Not a reconstruction, not an imitation of (past) life, not a set designer's proof of genius, and above all, not a superficial imitation of the way newsreels looked like. No, just a tale and a reflection from someone who would know that cinema is about recording. The question lies in the capacity to record the past. As it lies in the capacity to record dreams and ghosts (nothing surprising then in the fact that Garrel's following film has a ghost in it). Document and record. This is what Les Amants réguliers has done: to record what has not been filmed. Moments and episodes that one lived in the absence of cinema. Too busy living them, at the time. Cinema was then supposed to help, spread, express or else to state how cinema itself was to change (see Godard, as always). Only one (maybe only one) never forgot that many things had needed to be recorded and had never been recorded, and that it remained necessary to record them, even 40 years later. Philippe Garrel knows that the stories have to be told, sooner or later. Not as stories in the Hollywood definition: story as in journalism. And this is how the journalist is a poet. Wishing well to my Syrian friends, filmmakers under fire, long repressed poets, who will some time record the newsreels of an everlasting fight.
Newsreels of the past—Les Amants réguliers:
Newsreels of the present—May '68 in Paris:
Beauty is in the streets—Paris, 1968: