How French prose writer and poet Boris Vian changed cinema

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It is often said about him that he was ahead of his time. Admire his eccentricity and imagination, called one of the greatest inventors of the twentieth century. Like no one else, he did not fit into the moralizing mood of the era, was a stranger to politics at a time when everything around was saturated with political, and his only struggle seemed to be the struggle against the dullness of life.

As a child, Vian, who grew up in a rather bourgeois family, discovered literature. Surrounded by numerous relatives and friends, he was constantly immersed in all kinds of games. And because of his mother’s strong addiction to classical music, he hated Mozart and his ilk so much that he soon discovered jazz as a salvation and as a protest.

During World War II, Vian was found unfit for military service due to heart problems. After which, like many young Parisians, he managed to have a good meal and even on forced youth work Vichy, where the French were sent, noted that he became a member of the music band, at the same time taking his first steps as a jazz musician.

For Viana, the war was indeed something alien, a relic of the times and an old system, something too real, something against which he had been protesting all his life, simultaneously creating one big ode to infantilism and youth. It is no coincidence that writing itself meant for Vian partly a struggle with routine, and his first serious literary experiments coincided with the work of an engineer, first at the French Institute of Standardization, and then at the State Administration of the Paper Industry, two state institutions whose names are already boring.

At the same time, he wrote his first serious work (officially considered unfinished), a touching story called "A Fairy Tale for Not quite Adults" (this title would be perfect for all Viana’s work), in 1942 for his wife Michelle Leglize. Being pregnant and ill, she asked her husband to compose a beautiful fairy tale for her. So there was a story about a prince who, in search of a bag of granulated sugar, meets the most eccentric characters on his way. This tale was full of all kinds of verbal puns, reviving objects, perky absurdity, rebellion against the adult world and undisguised melancholy – all the components of the subsequent literary work of Boris Vian. Four years later, some of these images will also migrate to his most famous novel, Foam of Days (1946). Reading the last one, one cannot but think about its cinematography and at the same time about the difficulty of conveying all this in the language of cinema. It is painful here everything is subordinated to fantasy and is designed for this fantasy itself (of the reader).

1946 will generally be a landmark for Vian. In addition to the release of Foam of Days, in the same year he made his debut as an artist, taking part in an exhibition of drawings created by writers. And then he first appeared in the movie – along with the ensemble of Claude Abadi, of which he was a member, he flashed in the episode of the film "Madame and Her Lover" directed by Jean Margen, later describing the impressions of this experience in the short story "Statist".

In general, Viana’s relationship with the cinema was long-standing, very passionate, but not entirely unambiguous. Even in his youth, he was known as a regular in cinemas (it is rumored that, having seen enough of Soviet films, he came up with a strange language that sounds in The Foam of Days). In the early 40s, along with Michelle Leglize, he tried to write scripts (most likely, not very successful), and in the second half he began to regularly flash his friends in short films. At first, along with his bosom friend Jacques Lustolo, known by the nickname Major, Vian starred in several short films by Jean Suguillot, and then appeared in the first experiments of the legendary director and film theoretician Alexander Astryuk.

In the 50s, Vian wrote an off-screen text for the avant-garde short film "The Mona Lisa: A Story of an Obsession", playing an episodic role in it. He takes part in three films by Pierre Caste – first playing an intellectual in the short film "Hunting for a Man", then a bath attendant in the full meter "Pickpocket Love" (1957), and then, together with his new wife Ursula Kübler, in the film "Great Age" "(1960). In the latter, Vian will play almost himself – a refined intellectual named Boris. The film will be released after his death, and director Pierre Cast in 1984 will film the most personal novel of Boris Vian – "Red Grass", with the icon of the "new wave" by Jean-Pierre Leo in the title role.

Vian, a year before his death, will play his most famous role in the movie – the gallant boyfriend Prever, trying to attract the attention of the heroine Jeanne Moreau to the scandalous film Roger Vadim's "Dangerous Communications" to the music of bebop.

Cinema definitely fascinated Boris Vian, but playing it was boring for him. Hatching the day on the set, repeating the same doubles – Vian was in a hurry to live and was too impatient. The same Cast once recalled that Boris always resorted to shooting at the last moment, quickly did his job and disappeared just as quickly. Remembering that almost all his life Vian lived with a heart defect, his biographers like to use the traditional wording here: "He seemed to feel that he was allotted too little time."

In part, this all happened, and, ironically, it was the movie that ultimately played a fatal role in the life of the writer. At the screen version of his debut and most popular novel “I Will Come Spit on Your Graves” (his circulation could not even beat “Foam of Days”) on June 23, 1959, Vian's heart stopped. Rumor has it that Vian was too nervous waiting for the premiere.

After his death, in 1968, at the Venice Film Festival, the premiere of the adaptation of “Foams of Days” took place (in 2001, this book was filmed by the Japanese Go Ridzu, and in 2013 by Michel Gondry). Initially, the film was supposed to be shot by the still novice director Bertrand Blieu, but its version was quickly rejected by the widow of the writer Ursula Kübler. After that, the shooting was entrusted to the 31-year-old actor Charles Belmon, for whom it was a debut in directing.

Belmont pretty much changed the source, gave one of the roles to Ursula, but most importantly – caught the spirit of the novel, being able to convey on the screen a sense of youth, eroticism and rebellion, embedded in the book by Vian himself. Fortunately, the year 68 was in the yard, Paris was raging, and the cinema of Godard, Truffaut and other representatives of the “new wave”, to which, of course, Belmont gravitated, still had not left the editorials of the French press. So the whole world learned about the previously little-known novel "Foam of Days", and the literary legacy of Boris Viana finally began to gain well-deserved popularity.

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