Philippe Meyer: “The diversity of Bertrand Tavernier’s inspiration has never ceased to amaze”



The cross : What is your reaction to the news of Bertrand Tavernier’s death?

Philippe Meyer: In recent months he had suffered a lot. He didn’t complain and kept urging his friends to read this or that book, to watch this or that movie again. Like always. He sent me pages of his memoirs which he continued to write. I kept asking myself: but how does he manage to conserve such energy? Bertrand, unchanged, until the end …

I knew he was, as they say in the Jura, “On its remainder”. I was preparing for it, but knowing it doesn’t take away from the violence of the news.

For two weeks, every evening, I see a film by Bertrand. It was my way of staying with him, of trying to be close to him. I’m in Paris ; he was at Sainte-Maxime. These sessions only dilated the admiration I had for him, in front of the diversity of the subjects he tackled, the genres he dealt with, the diversity and variety of actors, the daring, the formidable cinematheque that he became the Institut Lumière, his work as an editor, his attachment to film music, to all film music.

This man was a fountain of curiosity, loyalty, dissatisfaction. It flowed all the time. I’m almost the same age as him, I had the chance to meet lots of people, and not the least, who taught me a lot, marked, showed me but him… The one who says that no one is irreplaceable did not know him.

Tell us about the friend, his qualities …

PM: His dissatisfaction always pushed him towards meetings, readings, films… He never wanted to entrust someone else with the distribution of roles in his films. He went to the theater every evening to see the actors play, to support them, to admire them, to spot them. The actors and technicians, he was not afraid. They were interlocutors. One day, I asked Philippe Noiret: “Was there a role for which you would have gone to the sleeve to a producer?” “ He replied: ” Yes. Commander Dellaplane in Life and nothing else but I did not need. “ Noiret, in this film, wore his father’s decorations …

Other figures have also counted a lot, such as Christine Pascal. He talked about it a lot. I would like to add that I have been on several of his shoots. I have always been struck by the politeness and the time he spent with the extras. He was a Lyonnais. If he was awkward at expressing his feelings in life, he expressed them wonderfully with his means, film and writing.

What sort of curiosity, so insatiable, was hers?

PM: She was responding neither to a fad, nor to a current of opinion. She was sincere, free, free from intimidation. He translated it into his Journey through French cinema and in his role as editor.

It was also a musical curiosity. I happen to have a disco provided. I remember that he sometimes came to my house in search of specific pieces for his film scores. I was taking my day. One disc led to another. We never finished. In return, he would take you to an unlikely restaurant he had just discovered. It was also a curiosity of the thousand and one little things in life. But still dissatisfied. He had never read enough books, listened to enough music, watched enough movies, or met enough people. Make no mistake: he showed rigor in his research.

What place will it occupy in collective memory?

PM: It will leave a double place. That of the author he was. The diversity of his inspiration never ceases to amaze. We got used to seeing him go from Let the party begin at Death live, of The Princess of Montpensier at In the Electric Mist, with such different actors. And that of the man of transmission which culminates with his admirable Journey through French cinema which is a masterpiece of sharing. And the passengers on that trip, there will be. I keep making the litany of what I’m going to miss, starting tomorrow morning. As long as we know that it didn’t happen, it didn’t happen. Now it is …

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