“Nathalie Granger” is aesthetico-philosophical opus-film. The strictest logic of its visual images step by step moves us, the viewers, to the feeling that we, while observing the still and harmonious life in a quiet and prosperous household, never expected to get – the feeling of the incompatibility between traditional (over-worldly) spirituality (as it exists and flowers in religious and/or ideological beliefs) and… children’s psychological needs. It is the one of the miracles of this film that the concept of traditional (above-worldly) spirituality is not defined but is impersonated by two profoundly intelligent actresses: Jeanne Moreau and Lucia Bose. They both incarnate over-worldliness with miraculous naturalness of complete immanency. They live eternity as if it is possible to breath when you are inside it. They show that they can, more exactly – they can without showing it. – But what about Nathalie?

Nathalie, a girl of pre-adolescent age who is being cared for and loved by two extraordinary women – the mother and the “aunt”, unexpectedly started to express stubborn resistance to the very atmosphere of sublime spiritual calmness that characterized their household. At school she started to express animosity towards other kids. What’s happened to this seemingly gentle child in spite of her caregivers’ always positive and patient efforts?

The film answers this question in a provocative yet solidly articulated way mobilizing the power of cinematic medium to make the point gently but irreversibly. The film doesn’t look like a philosophical argument, although it certainly is, and it influences our cognition through a psychodrama that approaches the viewers’ mind through their feelings and their consciousness through their intuitions. This film is not asserting and not stating anything, but it whispers something we don’t understand for a while.

To watch “Nathalie Granger” is challenging as well as a stimulating and rewarding experience for all those who in their life and thinking don’t follow the authoritarian clichés and seductive songs of entertaining ads but are prone to try to make up their own minds about life and the world.

It is, as if, the film was composed by the three irresistible but untouchable, attractive and awe-suggesting “witches” – Marguerite Duras, Jeanne Moreau and Lucia Bose who passes by our being to be never forgotten. In them the very metaphysical sensibility has something demonic in it, and the good, as if, is elevated/condemned to carry a gene of ambiguity. Nathalie (Valerie Mascolo) personifies us all in our childishly wise and immaturely non-conformist reaction on spirituality. The character of Gerard Depardieu personifies our “pragmatic”, instrumental mind as a conventional cover of our frightened unconscious.

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Marguerite Duras is looking at her future which she is already tested in her present tasks.

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Marguerite Duras is looking at the reality of her present challenges and the necessity to meet them in full.

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Nathalie just had a tantrum – she is growing impatient with the reality of life, as if this reality is not a goal in itself but realization of our ready-made expectations. Her reaction is simultaneously – “metaphysical” and “anti-metaphysical”.

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Nathalie’s “aggression” is anti-existential but in the same time it is, as if, “demonstrating” the fruitless incompatibility between “spirit” and “life”.

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Is Jeanne Moreau cleaning eternity to fit actuality – what is reflected to make it ready for reflection, in the best condition for being reflected, or is she cleaning actuality to be able to reflect eternity without distortions?

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What is more real – eternity reflected in the temporary or temporary reflecting and animating eternity? As this shot suggests, eternity looks at the reality of life by bowing down its head to it. Incessant mixing in the film of the metaphysical and existential landscapes, of watching and being watched, of presence and absence suggests that according to Duras, the time has come for spirit and life to accept their… equality and recognize their embrace as an amorous one, not just as a sign of coexistence.

Posted Mar 7, 2012 –   Marguerite Duras’ “Nathalie Granger” (1972) – Glimpse of Eternity In Black and White by Acting-Out Politics