April 4, 2010

Joachim Gatti (2009)


Joachim Gatti (2009), a new video by Jean-Marie Straub, is available for viewing online at the beautiful REVUE LEUCOTHÉA.

In July 2009, young French filmmaker Joachim Gatti was seriously injured by the police during a peaceful demonstration in Montreuil. A flash ball bullet hit him in the face, rupturing one of his eyes.

A translation of the video's text:

(Voice of Straub)  
Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote:

Only the dangers of society as a whole trouble the philosopher's tranquil sleep and tear him from his bed. Someone can slit his counterpart's throat with impunity under his window; He only has to put his hands over his ears and argue with himself a little to prevent nature, which revolts within him, from identifying him with the one who is being assassinated. Savage man does not have this admirable talent, and for want of wisdom and reason he is always seen heedlessly yielding to the first sentiment of humanity. In uprisings and street fights the populace assembles and the prudent man distances himself: the dregs of the people, the women of the markets, separate the combatants and prevent honest people from slitting each other's throats.

And I Straub, I say to you that it is the police, the police armed by Capital,
who kill.


Il n'y a plus que les dangers de la société toute entière | qui troublent le sommeil tranquille du philosophe et qui l'arrachent de son lit. | On peut impunément égorger son semblable sous sa fenêtre; il n'a qu'à mettre ses mains sur ses oreilles | et s'argumenter un peu pour empêcher la nature qui se révolte en lui | de l'identifier avec celui qu'on assassine. | L'homme sauvage n'a point cet admirable talent; | et faute de sagesse et de raison, | on le voit toujours se livrer étourdiment au premier sentiment de l'humanité. | Dans les émeutes, dans les querelles des rues, | la populace s'assemble, l'homme prudent s'éloigne : | c'est la canaille, ce sont les femmes des halles, | qui séparent les combattants | et qui empêchent les honnêtes gens de s'entr'égorger. |
Et moi Straub je vous dis que c'est la police armée par le Capital, c'est elle || qui tue.


The Jean-Jacques Rousseau text is from Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes (Première partie) (1754), Discourse on the Origins and Foundation of Inequality (First Part).

The English translation above is a combination of those of Louis-George Schwartz (readable here along with a short introduction to Joachim Gatti by Nicole Brenez: "History has not been told, socialism has not yet existed, capitalist terror reigns, the imperatives are pressing....") and Roger D. and Judith R. Masters (The First and Second Discourses. St. Martins Press. New York. 1964).

The still-frame from the video above is cropped a great deal; this in one last effort to respect the wish of Joachim Gatti not to have his picture posted on the internet.


The vanity of reason, with all its turning heads, about which Rousseau speaks here was, I believe, made into a painful film -- The Rules of the Game (among others by Renoir) -- and verbalized by Renoir in its most famous line: "The awful thing about life is this: Everyone has his reasons."

The "force of natural pity" I know well (not well enough) from the incident of police brutality I witnessed and wrote about here, now four years ago; it was an uncontrollable tensing and sprint toward the beating, not away; but I was stricken with reason at that moment (outnumbered, outgunned, unorganized, ineffective...), and given a pit in the stomach that doesn't go away...

Perhaps a purely physical manifestation of "natural pity" was filmed once: In Vigo's L'Atalante, Michel Simon cuts his hand with a navaja, lifts the wound to his mouth and Dita Parlo...


Rest in Peace Oscar Grant III, shot in the back while unarmed, cuffed and detained by Bay Area (BART) transit police in January 2009. The murder was caught on video, none of the police involved have been convicted.


Ted Fendt said...

Great post, Andy. Thanks for the link. Now if only I could get the video to load!

Andy Rector said...

Thanks Ted. Just in case you're not on the right page for the video (it's a bit confusing): one must click the first essay in the Table of Contents, then click the little forward arrow in the lower right hand corner, paging through all the articles until the last item, which is the movie.

Matthew Flanagan said...

Thanks so much for this, Andy.

Ted Fendt said...

Alright, I've seen it.

The diction is fascinating. Outside of the context of a work of fiction - En rachachant - the words and letters Straub puts stress on, the musicality of his speech, really strikes me for the first time. The way he reads the text is so unlike the way Rousseau has written it. And the statement at the end! How many people still do that kind of thing?

I remember him or Huillet mentioning in an interview how they would tell the actors to ignore the punctuation in rehearsals in order to find their own pauses. I have to look that up.

Andy Rector said...

Ted, that Huillet comment about ignoring punctuation to find one's own may be remembered from the Cahiers (Burdeau/Frodon) interview with them about QUEI LORO INCONTRI that you translated. I recall that, and the remark from Straub that the colors in those fauvist scripts we've seen of theirs, with 5 or 6 different colors marking certain words and breaks, correspond to the different days of rehearsal and the intonations, emphasis, etc found that day.