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Marguerite Duras embarked on a second career as a film director in the late 1960s; by then was already a well-known and highly acclaimed novelist and playwright. Bearing in mind this dual influence, this book presents an outline of Duras's early life and of her later political preoccupations, highlighting the relationship between these two dimensions and her films. Duras's aim was to transcend the limitations of both literature and cinema by creating an écriture filmique. Working within the 1970s French avant-garde, Marguerite Duras set out to dismantle the mechanisms of mainstream cinema, progressively undermining conventional representation and narrative and replacing them with her own innovative technique. The making of Nathalie Granger in 1972 coincided with the period of intense political activity and lively theoretical debates, which marked the early years of the post-1968 French feminist movement. India Song questions the categories of gender and sexuality constructed by the patriarchal Symbolic order by foregrounding the Imaginary. Agatha mirrors transgressive relationship and quasi-incestuous adolescent relationship, as the film resonates with the off-screen voices of Duras and Yann Andréa who also appears on the image-track where he represents Agatha's anonymous brother. Her work, both in literature and in film, distinguishes itself by its oblique, elusive quality which evokes her protagonists' inner landscape instead of dwelling on the appearances of the external world.

nature of such noises when they are deliberately omitted from a soundtrack, as is the case in Nathalie Granger. Other familiar devices include seamless editing and perfect synchronisation. These effects are heightened, moreover, by the emphasis placed in mainstream cinema on external reality, represented through action, movement and the visible unfolding of a story, at the expense of the subjective inner reality that is central to the work of

in Marguerite Duras

characteristic discrepancy between what appears to be a specifically female film language, on the one hand, and her deconstruction of fixed gender categories, on the other. Her involvement with feminism in the early 1970s is reflected, for instance, in her indictment of the physical and psychological confinement of women in Nathalie Granger, where representations of the female body and of relationships between women, allied with the

in Marguerite Duras
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1 School’s out: Jeanne Moreau as the friend and Valérie Mascolo as Nathalie Granger in Nathalie Granger (1972) 2 A silent friendship: Lucia Bose as Isabelle Granger and Jeanne Moreau as the friend in Nathalie Granger (1972

in Marguerite Duras

, typically appeared in their own films, in order to highlight the status of cinema as an art form and not as a transparent reflection of the world. Duras also adopted this technique, for example when she appeared in Le Camion (1977) or when she chose her own house at Neauphle-le-Château near Paris as the setting for Nathalie Granger (1972). Despite these similarities between Duras and the New Wave, there are also a number of

in Marguerite Duras
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Jane’s movement through her suite of ground-floor rooms. Another seminal French woman film-maker, Marguerite Duras, described the relationship of protagonist and house in her 1973 film Nathalie Granger: ‘une femme qui déambule dans sa maison fait le tour d’elle-même, comme si elle en épousait même le contour, comme si la maison elle-même avait forme de femme (...) Il y a donc une sorte de symbolisme, d’osmose de la femme et

in Agnès Varda

) – which offer variations on a basic narrative and a single group of characters. In all of her films, Duras lays unusual emphasis on the function of sound, above all as an expression of women’s experience: hence the ‘resistant’ silence in Nathalie Granger (1972) and the productive power of the woman’s voice (her own) in the 1977 film Le Camion (see Forbes 1992 : 99–101). The general austerity of her work, which is almost

in Contemporary French cinema
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Filming desire

: 38–60 . Borgomano , M . ( 1985 ), L’Ecriture filmique de Marguerite Duras , Paris , Albatros . Bouquet , S . ( 1996 ), ‘M. Duras: L’œuvre en miettes’ , Cahiers du cinéma , 501 : 36–7 . Chion , M . ( 1993 ), La Voix au cinéma , Paris , Seuil . Duras , M . ( 1973 ), Nathalie Granger suivi de La Femme du Gange , Paris

in Marguerite Duras
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Space as story

domain of the feminine, it is usually in the sense of a stage for playing out dramas associated with female sexuality and power and even a potential site of female power (as Ines Hedges describes the house in Duras’s film Nathalie Granger – a ‘performative space’, where the women can take control and through which they can express their identity (Hedges 1991 : 98–100)), rather than the womb-like incarnation of maternal

in Jacques Rivette