Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mario Ruspoli, prince des baleines et autres raretés / [Mario Ruspoli, Prince of Whales and Other Rarities]

FR 2011. D: Florence Dauman  DP+SC: Noël Véry, Benjamin Wolf, Florence Dauman. ED: Florence Dauman, Lucas Fretin, Claudine Kaufmann. Interviewees: Raymond Bellour, Michel Brault, Yves Coppens, Françoise Gilot, Richard Leacock, Albert Maysles, Edgar Morin, D.A. Pennebaker. With the participation of Dominique Ruspoli and Noël Véry. PC: Florence Dauman. Digibeta. 76’. Versione francese / French version. From: Argos Films. Sunday 24 July 2012, Cinema Lumière - Sala Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Earphone commentary in Italian and English.

Florence Dauman: “Mario, a childhood friend of my father (who later produced his films), quickly became my favorite companion in childhood, which he delightfully enriched. His first move, which was repeated many times to my great entertainment, was to roll me up in the entryway carpet, heave this shapeless bundle on his shoulders, go into the living room where various guests were before dining, unroll the carpet in the middle of the room and present… Cleopatra! Despite his pivotal role in documentary film history, Mario Ruspoli and his work have been unjustifiably ignored. His widow, Dominique Ruspoli, contacted me so that Argos Film would produce a movie about Mario. The idea struck me immediately, and I wanted to give back to the Prince what he was owed. “Finally, the tribute he deserved” were the words of his friend Chris Marker after having seen the documentary.

“Dominique brought us wonderful gems from their house in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. Reels of film, Nagra soundtracks, photos, paintings. All the music in the documentary is the work of Mario. Archive images, family movies, testimony of his relatives, collaborators, and friends (Edgar Morin, Yves Coppens, Brigitte and Gilles Delluc, Richard Leacock, D A. Pennebaker, Michel Brault, Albert Maysles) have been selected for the film.

“Making a documentary is not enough of a tribute to a filmmaker worthy of the name. Mario’s films must have the opportunity to be seen. It was Gian Luca Farinelli and Cineteca di Bologna, and not I, that gave new life to Mario’s work, restoring all the films produced by Argos and hence allowing them to enthrall audiences once again.” Florence Dauman

AA: A wonderful documentary portrait of and tribute to a many-sided artist. Mario Ruspoli was not only a filmmaker but also a poet (Blues), a surrealist, an author of books (Revivre Venise avec les grands voyageurs), a talented musician, a big jazz fan, a knife collector, an admirer of female beauty, a distinguished beetle collector with an unbelievable eye, a deft handyman with a 35 year old Citroën, an admirer of handicrafts, and a respected researcher of the Lascaux caves. In an early bout with cancer Ruspoli lost an eye: like Ford, Walsh, Nick Ray, and De Toth he belongs to the one-eyed masters of the cinema. Ruspoli was a pioneer of the direct cinema, or perhaps the very first one with Les Hommes de baleine, as confirmed here by Michel Brault, Albert Maysles, D.A. Pennebaker, Richard Leacock, and Edgar Morin. Most importantly, Edgar Morin stresses Ruspoli's capacity to sympathize in his movies about mental hospitals: "he is obviously touched", "he is in a place where humanity is". Regard sur la folie is an important study about institutional psychotherapy: showing the importance of close contact in psychotherapy, and the value of making art in a mental institution. The many-sided Ruspoli made a sensitive study on alcoholism (Le dernier verre) and a portrait of the graphic artist and caricaturist Chaval.

The music track of this enchanting movie consists entirely of Ruspoli's own performances, and the theme blues is "Baby Please Don't Go" sung by him. The visual quality: Digibeta.

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