Jacques Baratier, or carefree irreverence

by Jean-Michel Humeau

par Jean-Michel Humeau La Lettre AFC n°194

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Director Jacques Baratier left us very discretely, almost as if he had hid for a joke, or as if he was worried about the disorder that would result. He was there, but he still is, to mark his difference by his humor, his impatience, his pleasure in loving and being loved without allegiance or dependence, convinced that he could, that he would enlighten his era again and always with that elegance, lightness, carefree irreverence, and extravagance mismatched with the conventional milieu of French cinema.
Jacques Baratier - During the shooting of <i>Nothing, That's the Order</i>, in 2002
Jacques Baratier
During the shooting of Nothing, That’s the Order, in 2002

Director of photography Jean Bourgoin did not appreciate this rebellious spirit : "It was like fire and water," said Pierre Lhomme. Yet he did some of his finest cinematography with Goha.

Very close to literature and to authors like Audiberti (we called them “the two Jacques’”), Olivier Laronde Christiane Rochefort and Jacques Besse, he adapted La Poupée (The Doll) by Audiberti in 1962. In 1963 he wrote Dragées au poivre (Pepper Candy) with Guy Bedos, in 1973 La Ville bidon (The Trashy City) with Christiane Rochefort, in 1974 L’Araignée de satin (The Satin Spider) with Catherine Breillat.

His last film in 2003, Rien, voilà l’ordre (Nothing, That’s the Order) is a tribute to his friend the poet Olivier Laronde, it is also the culmination of a screenwriting relationship with Jacques Besse whose retirement at the clinic Laborde he accompanied and generously supported. In the film Laurent Terzieff plays the role of Jacques Besse, Jacques "Roulette". For such a low budget film, the cast – Claude Rich, Macha Meril, Jean-Claude Dreyfuss, Pascale de Boysson and Alexandra Stewart – is an expression of a friendship pact.

In 1967, Le Désordre à 20 ans (The Disorder at Age 20) featured Arthur Adamov, Jacques Audiberti, Roger Blin, Jean Cau, Simone de Beauvoir, Roger Pierre, Raymond Queneau, Jean-Paul Sartre, Roger Vadim, Orson Welles. A whole era of literature and theater that he represented and of which he was deeply imbued.

In the 1960s, curious, he hung out in the backyard of St Germain-des-Près, the golden triangle of drinkeries like the Rhumerie, the Navy, Temps Perdu or the Echaudé. A fragile and smiling silhouette of a dilettante in love with the neighborhood. He would have damned himself for a bon mot, distant and close and charming, so he was and so he shall remain.

It also remains that we miss his laughter.

It is hoped that we revisit his work, that it be part of the heritage of the Cinematheque, and that the Tunisians allow the distribution of Goha which has been blocked for many years.