Journal De France, film review: Raymond Depardon is like an eccentric old magician

(12A) Raymond Depardon, Claudine Nougaret, 100 mins

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The Independent Culture

This is a portrait of the documentary maker and photographer Raymond Depardon, made by his sound editor and close companion Claudine Nougaret.

It's essentially two films grafted together. There is a travelogue in which we see Depardon roaming around France, taking pictures with his ancient box camera. He is like an eccentric old magician – a Georges Méliès-like conjuror – as he painstakingly prepares his shots.

Alongside the travelogue, Nougaret provides a biographical portrait, using Depardon's own extraordinary archive as her raw material.

He filmed mercenaries in Africa, French politicians (Valery Giscard d'Estaing explaining to his advisors how he can win the Presidential election), courtroom scenes, imagery of rural France and Nouvelle Vague-style footage of pretty women walking through the Paris streets. (One of his goals was "to find a stranger in the crowd and film her till she reveals herself.")

He himself is taciturn and inscrutable. Our only sense of his personality comes through his work, which is frequently stunning.