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Le Soir magazine
February 12, 2003

The Simenon Year

Simenonville remembers
Simenon in Paris
A star never honored
An immense œuvre
Simenon in the Pléiade
Treasures of the Simenon Collection
Intimate Memoirs of a son
His final residence
A life of breaks and changes
On the festival menu
The Simenon Production
They all played Maigret
At the movies, 57 films

original French

He scorned cinema and tv... which, however, brought him fame and wealth

The Simenon production


DESIRED!
Isild Le Besco plays Edmée, a young girl confronted with the crudeness of her Flemish cousins, in a portrait characteristic of Simenon.

The writer hardly trusted images to translate the atmosphere of his novels. He was wrong. A striking example: "[The House by the Canal]".

Even though he owed his immense notoriety to his fecund pen, Simenon could not deny – nor avoid – the seizure of his work by cinema and television. Haven't the film-makers been often well served by the talents of the "doctor of souls" of the Liege novelist?

Alain Berliner ("[My life through rose-colored glasses]") will henceforth be counted among them. His "[House by the Canal]" (an 1953 novel) is a little gem, welcome in this time of commemoration.

It presents a young girl (Isild Le Besco, alias Edmée, seen recently in "[Girls don't know how to swim]") plunged into the stifling universe of her Flemish cousins, between latent desires and the sky so low... With its "northern clime" (the Damme Canal), its rustic ways disconcerting to a young girl from the city, its barges heading into the fog, and its pious secrets, [The House by the Canal] merges all the qualities inherent in the novels of Simenon.

The interiors, conversations, the rivalry between the brothers for the troubling Edmée, the thick furrows of the surrounding fields, and the black water where hopes for a better life stagnate, everything is admirably translated into images. Simenon would have no doubt been pleased with the final result.

TV/cinema and literature were in the end very interwoven in Simenon's career. They forged the legend and took their respective parts. In the final analysis, Simenon's style seems easily adaptable, even transposable from the paper version to film.

"Everything is atmosphere"

"With Simenon, everything is atmosphere", claims Pierre Granier-Deferre, astute expert on the novelist. Between the myth and the author of station-kiosk novels, a third path must be taken, centered on the twists and turns of a life.

There is a second reading, which permits you to sound the psychological depths of the characters, their flaws... and to capture the latent hopelessness which reigns in the work of Simenon. This clear line of narrative, contradicted by the weight of the characters furnishes good material for the filmmaker. Everything is mixed together with Simenon, his life and his imagination. Alain Berliner has no doubt captured, he also, the double play accentuated here by the very Belgian echoes of [The House by the Canal] (all in Flemish, including Jean-Pierre Cassel, dubbed under the circumstances).

Simenon defined himself (if that's possible) as an impressionist of the intimate forces of the men and women traversing his narratives. An opaque canvas made of confessions more or less restrained. He knew how to give birth to a life. A life a little shabby which leaps to your eyes. His skill has been to know how to create ambiance, to paint his characters using but a few words, and always with an extreme sharpness of features, judges Bruno Cremer alias Maigret for twelve years.

Moments of crisis, personal chasms, repressed instincts, "I like to think of Simenon as a novelist of the unconscious", adds the last interpreter of the famous Chief Inspector. Simenon or the art of living in a private house, drowned in the canal of sentiments...

Bernard Meeus.

Thursday 13/2, RTBF I, 8:55pm.
Thursday 13/2, "The Two", 10:35pm, the best pieces of Simenon Evening by RTBF for Arte in 1993.
Friday 21/2, RTBF I, Simenon Evening. 8:15pm, "Maigret's Failure".
10:00pm, discussion.
11:15pm, "The Man who Wasn't Maigret" by Manu Riche (also on France 2 at 10:30pm)
Friday 21/2, France 2, 8:55pm, "Maigret and the Princess".

tr: ST 2/07

Le Soir magazine
February 12, 2003

The Simenon Year

Simenonville remembers
Simenon in Paris
A star never honored
An immense œuvre
Simenon in the Pléiade
Treasures of the Simenon Collection
Intimate Memoirs of a son
His final residence
A life of breaks and changes
On the festival menu
The Simenon Production
They all played Maigret
At the movies, 57 films


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