Watching Claude Lelouch’s A Man and A Woman (Un Homme et Une Femme) last night, I was taken at the utter simplicity yet power of the film.
Made in 1966, and winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Picture that year, A Man and a Woman is a clear departure from anything ‘Hollywood’. There are no chase scenes, no killing, no special effects, no investigations, no psycho killers, no terrorists, no nothing in fact.
The film was made on a shoestring. Lelouche wrote the script in 3 weeks, and shot it in another 3 weeks. It is entirely done with 1 hand held camera and no lights.
As you watch the film, you also see that it has extremely sparse dialogue. The story is really told in visuals. It is visual story telling at its best.
Yet it moves along, capturing you and taking you with it, 40 years or more after it was made.
The film was praised for its transitions from color to black & white, but as Lelouche later explained, he did not have enough money to shoot in color originally. He did this with no distributor, no studio, no backing at all. Just on the belief that he could make a good film. Then, as he started, he was aproached by a distributor for American television, who offered him $40,000 for the US rights, with the caveat that some of the film had to be in color. (Color TV was just getting started in America).
The film is a monument to what a creative person, driven by a vision, can achieve if you will just put a camera in their hands and give them the space to create something. I doubt if any Hollywood studio would sign off on such a film today, and in fact, if you want a look at the destructive nature of Hollywood execs, just take a look at A Man and A Woman 20 Years Later, the Hollywood financed and produced sequel.
As the French would say, merde.