For Jean-Louis Trintignant (1930-2022)

It is rare that we would celebrate the work of a film actor, not however because we disparage their art, but for the intimacy between the cinematographic art and entertainment which renders this artist’s art suspect. This is perhaps unfair. And if the aesthetic experience, aside from whatever pleasure it brings, changes our perspective on the world, subverting and/or expanding it, then there is no reason to exclude the film actor from our consideration.

In this instance, we mark the passing of Jean-Louis Trintignant for reasons that are undoubtedly personal, for his decidedly remarkable roles in films which were aesthetically formative for us – we are tempted to say “radical” –, that is, for those of us of the collective; in films such as Dino Risi’s Il Sorpasso (1962), Costa-Gavras’ Z (1969), Eric Rohmer’s Ma Nuit Chez Maud (1969), Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist (1970), Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colours: Red (1994), Michael Haneke’s Amour (2012).

Naivety, some will say, or worse, dilettantism, to think that film – or any other art – can change anything concrete. And what does an actor like Trintignant have to do with “radical politics”, or “anarchism”? Nothing, many will say. But since when do we judge art exclusively – today, one alienated form of expression among others – by the ideological identification of its creators? And does not art change us?

Trintignant was film and theatre actor, film maker, and more recently, he gave himself over to public recitals of poetry.

Originally from the rural french south, he would often describe himself as a peasant, and like all good peasants, someone who carefully cultivates what he plants, tends to its growth and harvests, nurturing what remains behind.

We share below a reading (in french) of Jacques Prévert, Boris Vian and Robert Desnos, by Jean-Louis Trintignant, or what we could call Trintignant among the libertarians.

Je voyais les poètes libertaires comme des anarchistes pacifistes … mais ils sont aussi très violents, amoureux, passionnés. Je suis moi-même un anarchiste.

Jean-Louis Trintignant, Le Devoir (22/09/2012)

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