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He’s Still One of Us [1971]

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 November 2022

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Summary

The film, Le Moindre geste (The Slightest Gesture), which I’m told ‘was chosen by the Semaine de la Critique's selection committee and will thus be shown at Cannes’, came very close to remaining rolled up in large tin cans that might have contained preserves, as so often happens to those ‘abnormal’ children for whom fate is rolled up in the places intended for them. And what can be done about this?

The fate common to the being I’m going to talk about and the kilometres of film that carry his image will perhaps clarify a little what I mean when I talk about attempt.

A film can be a masterpiece or a dud; a small celebration or an adhesive strip that captures ideas in the spirit of the times like sticky paper did flies, back when it was used and bicycles filled the streets.

That Yves, who's ‘severely retarded’, escaped his fate, which was to live in a home for halfwits—demeurer dans une demeure à demeurés—and that this strange film did not remain eternally autistic—as is the case with abandoned objects—entail two events that merge into one.

Yves and his father étaient là—they were here—earlier. The father spoke to me. Yves had picked up a pencil sharpener on my desk and was handling it with three fingers and that air of his that involves seeing a lot more in an object than its common use—of which he's suspicious. In 1957, ils étaient là, but at the time, was there, in the Allier, and his father had said to me that we ought to destroy the wall he saw, an adobe wall four or five metres high that was the surviving part of a destroyed barn. Yves didn't say anything, caught up as he was in the habit of never addressing his speech to anyone; he was clumsy, ruddy, black-haired, bumbling, and placed a wall of silence between ‘the rest of us’ and himself; and though there could not have been any more human there, nor more of all that which life entails, it took us years, walking side by side, day after day, and from place to place, from the Allier to the Cévennes, to make the film that ‘would thus be shown at Cannes’.

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Publisher: Amsterdam University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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