“Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost....” – Charlie Chaplin
There is a great story about François Truffaut, which Toubiana describes as being an important experience for him. In 1975, after taking over Cahiers a year earlier with Serge Daney, they go see Truffaut, who was angry at the magazine, and after they speak Truffaut tells them, “You should never have made Cahiers an ultra-leftist Maoist magazine. It’s unreadable and too theoretical. That’s not what Bazin wanted. You should have created another magazine.” And, “I’ve listened to you, and moving forward I’ll have an open neutrality towards the magazine.” This was Truffaut’s way to test them and to see if they would change. It was the start of the magazine’s return towards its original cinephilia (Truffaut would help them get financing, too). Toubiana describes how the Eighties Cahiers interview with Truffaut was a highlight of his career and it was the start of a truly valued friendship. Since Truffaut’s untimely early death (he was only in his fifties), Toubiana at the time featured an issue of Cahiers on him, wrote a biography (with Antoine de Baecque), and now there’s an upcoming Cinémathèque exhibition. One can see the Truffaut influence at Cahiers in this period through their reconnection with the original nouvelle vague but also on some of their miscellaneous interest, in particular that of a sensitivity and representations of childhood. For example, there is the cover feature they dedicated to E.T., which after seeing it at Cannes, Truffaut reportedly send Spielberg a letter that said, “You belong here more than me.” (Godard, on the other hand, aligned himself more with the American cinema of Woody Allen, who he would cast in his King Lear). Spielberg is also important at Cahiers today and whose reevaluation started in the Two-thousands (in face of reluctance since some of its past chief editors like de Baecque and Emmanuel Burdeau would never be described as Spielbergian.). Toubiana is a big fan of Raymond Devos, Andy Warhol (“he understood that we’re living in an era of reproduction;” and Toubiana also owns a revolver drawing and a Campbell Soup painting), Aragon (he recites a great poem), Charles Trénet (they play the song Boum, and Cocteau was also a fan), Sils-Maria (and the new Assayas film), and (finally) pastis. The episode of Remède à la mélancolie ends with Toubiana in a charming manner asking Bester out for a drink. If the weather’s nice, try to enjoy it!
* Bester’s interview with Antonin Peretjatko is well worth listening, too.