Obituary: Serge Daney

Louis Skorecki
Wednesday 12 August 1992 23:02

AS A JOURNALIST, a film and television critic, and also Serge Daney's friend from as early as 1960 (through school, Cahiers de Cinema and finally Liberation), I'm rather shocked about one error in Gilbert Adair's obituary (15 June), writes Louis Skorecki. How could young Serge Daney, as you said, write in Cahiers de Cinema about Rio Bravo? Not only was he too young then, but he would never had had the nerve to ask Jacques Rivette or Eric Rohmer, then head of Cahiers du Cinema, to accept his prose.

His first articles (on Rio Bravo and then Anatomy of a Murder) were published in a small magazine (you'd call it a 'fanzine' today) that I published - Visages du Cinema: it only had two issues, one on Howard Hawks, the other on Otto Preminger. I consider his second article on Preminger far more interesting than his first on Hawks, just re-published by Cahiers de Cinema in their hommage issue. It was only after a year and a half of working for Visages that Serge and I had the 'courage' to approach Cahiers's editors.

In the summer of 1964, Serge Daney went along with me on my second trip to Hollywood and we came back with a huge crop of interviews: Leo MacCarey, Buster Keaton, Howard Hawks, Stuart Heisler, Jacques Tourneur, George Cukor, Frank Tashlin, Jerry Lewis, Edward Ludwig, Don Siegel, Josef Von Sternberg, to name just a few. It was only then that we had the nerve to ask Cahiers also to publish our prose, that is our first 'official' film critiques. Jean Douchet was actually the only Cahiers critic who helped us in a friendly way; the others were too frightening.

Our lives then went separate ways. I had turned into a film director hating images, movies and moviegoers, while Serge was more and more changing into a traveller to distant countries who, in his spare time, continued to write about what was left of cinema.

That's just a brief account of the road Serge and I walked together. We loved each other, hated each other and at last, just a few weeks before he died of Aids, finally hailed as something of a saint and a philosophical hero, both learned to accept our differences and, more modestly, started to understand a tiny little bit about life and our place in it.

He was the only film critic of real value in France in the last 20 years and one of the only original writers on moving images. He was at the same time something of a Robert Musil, an Andre Bazin and a Marshall McLuhan.

His magazine, Trafic, now lives on by itself and will help people who did not know him to imagine Serge has not passed away. Books will be published soon (his own and others), videos and cassettes are being rushed to an eager audience: his memory will not fade.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments