Jacques Rozier is dead, Friday, June 2, at the age of 96, confirmed to World his collaborator on Saturday. This great dreamer before the Eternal will only have offered the cinema five feature films (Farewell Filipina, On the side of Orouet, The Castaways of Turtle Island, Maine Ocean, Fifi Martingale) and a handful of short films, as many films as free as the wind, disorderly and cacophonous as life, as many invitations to cast off the moorings, to celebrate, in a wild spirit of adventure, the utopian powers of fiction.
We would have liked to abandon ourselves again and again to the magnetism of his ocean escapes, freed from the diktat of time and the gray urban routine, the form of which each of his films ended up adopting. We would have liked to navigate, at least once again, alongside his poetic characters, whom a little touch of madness and a tearing away from their original environment derailed in an unparalleled burst of fantasy. He who aspired to nothing other than to make a great popular cinema, but whose films were never celebrated except within cinephile circles, could not have asked for better. But this rarity, he knew, would have been the price of his insolent freedom.
Like Jean Vigo, the great magician of naturalism, of whom he was the legitimate descendant, Jacques Rozier will have been a comet in the sky of cinema – a slow-burning comet, whose luminous poetics, a mixture of dreamlike fantasy and frenzied materialism, does not lack to operate in those who abandon themselves to a slight alteration of perception.
comet in the cinema sky
This alchemy finds its roots in an inspiration open to all winds, drawing as much from poetry and literature as from popular song, boulevard theater, the prosaic reality of office life and organized vacations. The heterogeneous, the friction, the hiatus were the sap, which he obtained by confronting young unknown actors with popular stars whom he took out of their comfort zone (Pierre Richard, Jacques Villeret, Luis Rego, Jean Lefebvre, Bernard Menez…), by telescoping documentary sequences taken on the spot with moments of pure comedy, by mixing all kinds of languages, accents, sounds in a humming cacophony…
The movement was born from the departure, the flight, the abandonment of the city for the infinite blue of the sea, the utopian territory of the islands where all his films failed. On these enchanting places, cut off from the world, Rozier set up his little theater, a debauchery of disordered intensity destined to be diluted, in fine, in the overflow, the failure or the incompleteness, which remanufactured in more beautiful, and in addition crazy, the cocktail of joy and bitterness that makes the flavor of life. His films celebrated the spirit of their time, of the triumphant consumer society, of the enthusiasm and desire that it furiously stirred up, without concealing any of its superficiality or its fakeness. Populated with unassignable characters, full of contradictions, they offer themselves to the spectator as so many invitations to appropriate them, without ever imposing a unambiguous reading.
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