Anne Wi­azem­sky starred in French New Wave clas­sic films and later be­came an ac­claimed nov­el­ist.

The Washington Post Sunday - - METRO - ANNE WI­AZEM­SKY, 70 BY MATT SCHUDEL matt.schudel@wash­

Anne Wi­azem­sky, an al­lur­ing ac­tress who ap­peared in clas­sic films of the French New Wave of the 1960s, in­clud­ing sev­eral by her hus­band, di­rec­tor Jean-Luc Go­dard, and who later be­came an ac­claimed nov­el­ist, died Oct. 5 in Paris. She was 70.

The cause was can­cer, a brother, Pierre Wi­azem­sky, told Agence France-Presse.

Ms. Wi­azem­sky made her act­ing de­but in Robert Bres­son’s 1966 film “Au Hasard Balt­hazar,” play­ing a naive coun­try girl named Marie whose beloved don­key is tor­mented by a series of cal­lous own­ers.

The don­key, named Balt­hazar, be­comes a sym­bol of hu­man cru­elty to­ward other liv­ing things, and the film is rec­og­nized as a mas­ter­piece.

“Robert Bres­son is one of the saints of the cin­ema,” critic Roger Ebert wrote, “and ‘Au Hasard Balt­hazar’ is his most heart­break­ing prayer.”

It also made the un­trained Ms. Wi­azem­sky, then in her teens, a sen­sa­tion. Her un­in­flected, emo­tion­ally vul­ner­a­ble act­ing style was so com­pelling that Bres­son told the film’s other ac­tors to model their per­for­mances af­ter hers.

“He would say to the oth­ers: ‘Watch Anne,’ ” she told Bri­tain’s Guardian news­pa­per in 2007. “‘She is Marie be­cause she ac­cepts sim­ply to be her­self with­out bring­ing in­tent or psy­chol­ogy to the role.’ It was not his in­ten­tion to teach me how to be an ac­tress. Al­most against the grain, I felt the emo­tion the role pro­voked in me, and later, in other films, I learned how to use that emo­tion.”

While mak­ing “Balt­hazar,” the 65-year-old Bres­son de­vel­oped an in­fat­u­a­tion with his young star.

“At first, he would con­tent him­self by hold­ing my arm, or stroking my cheek,” Ms. Wi­azem­sky wrote in a 2007 me­moir. “But then came the dis­agree­able mo­ment when he would try to kiss me . . . . I would push him away and he wouldn’t in­sist, but he looked so un­happy that I al­ways felt guilty.”

Dur­ing that time, Ms. Wi­azem­sky met Go­dard, al­ready renowned for his 1960 fea­ture “Breath­less,” which launched the La Nou­velle Vague, or the French New Wave move­ment. They were mar­ried in 1967, while Go­dard was di­rect­ing “La Chi­noise,” which fea­tured Ms. Wi­azem­sky as a stu­dent caught up in the Maoist po­lit­i­cal fer­vor of the time.

She also ap­peared in Go­dard’s “Week­end” (1967), an ab­sur­dist com­edy in which a mid­dle-class cou­ple drives to the coun­try, each plot­ting to kill the other. In 1972, she acted op­po­site Yves Mon­tand and Jane Fonda in “Tout Va Bien,” a film co-di­rected by Go­dard that cast a crit­i­cal eye on con­sumer so­ci­ety and con­ven­tional mar­riage.

Ms. Wi­azem­sky had a prom­i­nent role in 1969’s “The­o­rem” by Ital­ian di­rec­tor Pier Paolo Pa­solini, in which a mys­te­ri­ous stranger, played by Ter­ence Stamp, se­duces ev­ery mem­ber of a family, male and fe­male. In 1973, she starred in Michele Rosier’s “Ge­orge Who?,” a biopic about French writer Ge­orge Sand.

Ms. Wi­azem­sky and Go­dard were di­vorced in 1979. Af­ter her fi­nal film role in 1988, she de­voted her­self to writ­ing.

Long be­fore then, her ex­pe­ri­ences with Bres­son, Go­dard and Pa­solini and other au­teurs led her to adopt a philo­soph­i­cal ap­proach to the ob­ses­sive na­ture of film­mak­ers.

“It’s al­most ba­nal to speak of the fas­ci­na­tion that a di­rec­tor can have for his lead ac­tress,” she said in 2007. “The emo­tion that ex­isted be­tween Bres­son and [me], I ex­pe­ri­enced again with Pa­solini when we made ‘The­o­rem.’ It can give rise to good per­for­mances. But Pa­solini was ho­mo­sex­ual. It doesn’t al­ways mean you’re go­ing to sleep to­gether.”

Anne Wi­azem­sky was born May 14, 1947, in Ber­lin. Her fa­ther, who was descended from Rus­sian no­bil­ity, was a French diplo­mat. Her mother was the daugh­ter of François Mau­riac, who re­ceived the No­bel Prize for Lit­er­a­ture in 1952.

A com­plete list of sur­vivors could not be con­firmed.

Be­gin­ning in 1989, Ms. Wi­azem­sky pub­lished more than a dozen well-re­garded books, in­clud­ing a 1993 novel, “Ca­nines,” which re­ceived the Prix Gon­court, France’s most pres­ti­gious lit­er­ary award. A 1998 novel, “Une poignée de gens” (“A Hand­ful of Peo­ple”), re­ceived the grand prize of the French Academy.

Ms. Wi­azem­sky wrote two books about her life with Go­dard, one of which (“Un an après” or “One Year Later”) formed the ba­sis of a 2017 film, “Re­doubtable,” di­rected by Michel Hazanavi­cius, whose “The Artist” won five Academy Awards in 2012, in­clud­ing best pic­ture and best di­rec­tor.

Hazanavi­cius had a hard time per­suad­ing Ms. Wi­azem­sky to al­low the book to be adapted for a movie.

“Be­fore putting the phone down, I said it was a shame,” he told Screen In­ter­na­tional magazine, “be­cause I’d found the work so funny, to which she replied, ‘Re­ally? So do I, but no one else seems to. I thought I was the only one.’ ”

Hazanavi­cius “un­der­stood some­thing very pro­found about Jean-Luc,” Ms. Wi­azem­sky said in May. “Out of tragedy, he made a com­edy.”

Ms. Wi­azem­sky is played by Stacy Martin in “Re­doubtable,” and Go­dard is por­trayed with re­mark­able fi­delity, down to his tinted eye­glasses, by French ac­tor Louis Gar­rel.

Go­dard, now 86, lives in Switzer­land.

“I haven’t heard any­thing from him in a long time,” Ms. Wi­azem­sky said. “I know that to be on the safe side Hazanavi­cius has not sent him a DVD.”


French writer and ac­tress Anne Wi­azem­sky in 1989, the year she began writ­ing, pub­lish­ing more than a dozen well-re­garded books.

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