Almost every night I watch a film. A few weeks ago I bought a box with five movies by French filmmaker Claude Sautet. I started with the enchanting romantic comedy ‘César et Rosalie’ from 1972, featuring Romy Schneider, who is trying to deal with her emotions when she is torn between two lovers, played by Yves Montand and Sami Frey, a fascinating actor I didn’t know yet, at least I thought I didn’t. I found out very quickly however that I did know him, as he plays Franz in Jean Luc Godard's 1964 ‘Bande à part’ or ‘Band of Outsiders’. Here is the famous dance scene that I keep on my computer’s desktop, and which always brightens my day when I look at it. Anna Karina in the middle, Claude Brasseur on the left, and Sami Frey on the right.
Sami Frey, born in 1937, whose life is marked by his childhood as a Polish Jew in occupied Paris and the death of his parents in an extermination camp, had a long-term relationship with Delphine Seyrig, one of my favourite actresses. She is very well known for her role in Alain Resnais’s enigmatic 1961 film ‘Last year at Marienbad’, but also for the main part in Chantal Akerman’s breakthrough film ‘Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles’, from 1975. (‘Autour de “Jeanne Dielman”’, a 69-minute documentary, was directed by Sami Frey about the making of Akerman’s masterpiece.) What attracted me most to this remarkable actress however, was her voice. Marguerite Duras, one of her best friends, described Seyrig’s way of speaking as that of someone who has just learned to speak French, and has fantastic abilities to do so, but has hardly had the chance to practice French, but has an extreme physical pleasure in speaking it. Born in Beirut in 1932, the daughter of Henri Seyrig, an Alsatian archeologist and of Swiss female sailing pioneer Hermine de Saussure—a niece of linguist Ferdinand de Saussure—her adolescence was spent between Beirut, Paris and New York. On my desktop I also keep Delphine Seyrig singing ‘Une fourmi et moi’ (An Ant and Me) with lyrics by Luis Buñuel’s collaborator Jean-Claude Carrière and music by Delphine’s brother Francis—he had also composed the music for ‘Last Year at Marienbad’— a beautiful dizzying cocktail, which was recorded in 1971, and which brightens my day each time I see it.