Remembering desire: Sound, image and audience relationships in the films of Marguerite Duras
Whalley, J-A (2006) Remembering desire: Sound, image and audience relationships in the films of Marguerite Duras. In: Close Encounters: 4th Biannual Meeting of the Society for Science Literature and the Arts, 13 - 16 June 2006, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
One way of distinguishing between craft and art is that craft may be described as a set of rules and art as the process of taking those rules and, in the redefinition and redrawing of their boundaries, finding new content within them. In addition, art may also be defined as a way of making the world smaller in an attempt to understand it. In so doing, the artist presents their artistic vision through the lens of their subjectivity. This perspective will be the focus of my paper; I will discuss the particular artistic vision of filmmaker and writer Marguerite Duras, with refer-ence to her films India Song and Her Venetian Name in Deserted Calcutta. In the disruption of the relationship between sound and vision in her work, Duras raises serious questions about coherence both at a structural level and at a narrative level. By taking a historically accepted practice of film; the synchronicity of sound and image, and fracturing this direct relationship, Duras also exposes some of the fundamental questions of desire as absence and reframes the expected normative view of the world through her personal perspective. As Duras herself described it: “I indicate with sound, that is, speech and music welded together, the dance through which the script unfolds.” Duras as the author and we as spectators lo-cate desire as an impossible attempt to re-join these fractured parts. Sounds pre-sent a memory - and memory is only ever a desire to make present an irretriev-able past. Duras distorts time and memory and affectively disturbs our expecta-tions and understanding of the film’s narrative.
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