Surviving Desire: The Films of Jean-Claude Carrière

Luis Buñuel (left) and Jean-Claude Carrière (right).“The screenplay is not the last stage of a literary journey. It is the first stage of a film.” —Jean-Claude Carrière, The Secret Language of FilmThe screenwriting career of Jean-Claude Carrière begins with a gag. Or, it at least seems like a gag that one of the most prolific and distinguished of French screenwriters should have gotten his start by doing the very opposite of what he became known for—that is, by writing novelizations of two films. Having just published his first novel Lizard in 1957, the 25-year-old Carrière was approached by his publisher Robert Laffont to enter a curious writing contest. The prize? A commission to turn Jacques Tati’s Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (1953) and Mon Oncle (1958)—the latter still in production at the time—into written works. Recalling the incident later on, Carrière writes: “I agreed, and won—thus deciding, although

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