Ma première brasse (1981) - full transcript

In "My First Breast Stroke" the director whimsically describes his learning to finally swim at an advanced age as "the most important event since man walked on the Moon." Watch Full HD Movies & TV Shows
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My first breaststroke

My name is Luc Moullet.
I'm a filmmaker.

I'm 43 years old.

In Roman times, you could
be a senator at this age.

But we're not Romans,

and I have absolutely no desire
to become a senator anyway.

Instead, to celebrate
my 43th birthday,

I was thinking of doing
my first movie camera move...

But I feel it's too early,
I'm not ready yet.

I'd rather wait to be 50,
or wait for my tenth movie.

So, instead of doing a tracking shot,

I'd like to learn to swim.

For us intellectuals,

making a new movie,
writing a new book

has become routine.

Whereas engaging in
a new physical activity,

this is original,

It fills a lack in our lives.

The day I can swim will really
be a big day for me.

And, rather than spending dough
taking a swimming class,

I'd prefer to earn 40 grand
making a movie about this.

You may wonder why
I can't swim yet.

It's a long story.

The 18th of September 1943,
in the late afternoon...

Anyway, in a nutshell...

Let's say I'm from
the Southern Alps,

where there is not much water.

Here, a torrent in spate, downstream
my grandmother's native village.

Of which this is the spring.

Consequence of this lack of water,

grandma washed only the top of
her nose and the center of her cheeks.

Washing wears the skin, she said.

My grandfather,

had to put a bathtub
in the home he had built,

in order to get a state loan.

Of course, the bathtub was used
to store vegetables.

Granddad used his bathtub
for the first time at the age of 77.

He died twenty days later,
while sailing.

In this book, a doctor forces
an 80 years old shepherd

to take his first bath.

He dies the day after.

For myself, I'm more developed.

I love drinking at fountains,

being thirsty so
I'm allowed to drink more.

I can recognize the waters
of two different villages,

or two different mineral waters,

as well as a taster
of fine wines.

Affected by
Judeo-Christian dialectics,

I always considered solid
food as duty,

and liquid nourishment
as a reward.

I love to bathe.

I call my small tub boat Bresson.

I'm no quite sure why.

It may because I've always thought
that the filmmaker Bresson

would wear Petit bateau underpants.

Which is untrue,
according to a friend of mine.

When are you done with our bath ?

I was very sensitive to the movie Laura,

where the hero
doesn't leave his bathtub.

I'd like to do the same.

- Mister Grisse
- Let him come in.

I had issues
with my grandparents.

I wanted to take a bath,

but grandma thought that
it damaged the vegetables to move them,

and damaged the water-eater,
not used to such workload.

What is the place of water
in my movies ?

In Brigitte et Brigitte, the tub,

copy of the familial tub where
I had my first bath,

before I rented a one-bedroom
apartment with a bathtub

when I was 31 years and 7 months old,

and owner of a tub
at 38.

In Les Contrebandiers,
and in Billy Le Kid,

the protagonists
follow a wild torrent

in the wrong way,

which both shows
an attraction for water,

and the will to fight against it.

These movies were shot
in the mountains, whereas

Gen?se d'un repas, was entirely
shot on the seaside,

and even at sea,

probably because I'm masochistic.

Citizen of a capitalist country,

I felt guilty
of the third world's exploitation,

and punished myself
by shooting a film at see.

I even almost directed a movie
that was set in Deauville,

Saint-Tropez, and Tahiti.

But I gave up this torture.

I like water.

But in a glass, in a tub,
or in a torrent.

Where there is not too much water.
Where I'm in my depth.

You can't reach perfect
harmony with water

in a matter of
one or two generations.

I computed that my
potential descendants

could reach this perfect harmony

around the years 2042 to 2055.

My fear grows even bigger

whenever I see the terrifying
interstice, liquid and dark,

between boat and port.

If I were to fall there,
nobody would notice.

And even if someone did notice,
what could they do?

Suffocating, crushed, the nails bloodied
against this unbearably smooth wall.

When I walk over a bridge,
I'd rather not see a thing.

How dreadful this boat it!

On my first hovercraft trip,
I thought we were sinking

when we went from the hovering
to the boat position.

I ran to the life-belts.

Only 150 meters left.
If it sinks now, I'm done for!

100 meters ! I can be fished out !
Mouth-to-mouth !

60 meters ! I can make it,
come on Luluc, home straight !

30 meters !
I'm in my depth here !

20 meters, not in my depth
anymore ! 10 meters !

Five !

Phew ! I'm alive,
I won, well done!

That was a close one.
Never again !

I'm fine with rocks. But
I'm afraid of n?v?s.

You see, in any kind of snow,
there is water sleeping.

To learn to swim, they recommend
the so-called salad bowl test.

I did it !

So it was possible after all !
I can't believe it !

Tomorrow, I'm going to the sea
near Marseille.

Help! Help!

I didn't try to get
back to sleep.

If I slept, time
would go by too quickly.

If I don't sleep, it lasts longer.

I have a more intense perception
of the flow of time.

I fully enjoy
my last minutes to live,

before the shooting
before I go in the water.

Wait a second !

I didn't tell you my first
swimming experience.

It was in 1945,

on the Riviera,
not far from here.

It was quite dangerous.

The 50 meters between
the railway and the coast,

were not yet cleared of mines.

I think it is now.

It was a failure.
I don't quite know why.

My son Luc succeeds only
when he's passionate about something.

But when it's the case,
he succeeds extremely well.

He needs to get excited
about swimming.

I don't believe

that his clumsiness with water
has to do with heredity.

First of all, my family
is from Saint-Malo.

We have sailors, fishermen,
corsairs in our ancestry.

Moreover, his own father
was an excellent swimmer.

I saw him cross the Seine both ways,
or swim for five kilom...

Let's stop
I can see you're feeling tired.

Sit down !

Why do we go up, when the sea
obviously is at the bottom ?

It's a shortcut.

And I forgot to tell you my
second try to swim.

It was in May of 1958.

1336 in the year of the Hijra.

Samuel Fuller just shot "Verboten !".

In Rwanda, Hutus had
slaughtered 60 000 Tutsis.

Ercole Baldini and Charles de Gaulle
had respectively

won the Tour of Italy
and seized power in France.

For myself, I tried to learn
to swim in a swimming pool.

I was very much in love
with an extremely pretty girl.

She had asked me to meet her
on the beach.

She didn't come, but I thought
that if she had,

I would have looked stupid
not to be able to swim.

Obviously, I had thought of
bandaging my ankle,

to pretend I had a sprain.

A very good alibi.

But it couldn't work for that long.

So I decided, in order
to avoid this kind of situations,

to subscribe to twenty swimming
sessions in a swimming pool.

Paid in advance, at a time when
I was a student and not very rich.

During the first
swimming session,

I drank so much water,

and was so afraid by
the transparency of water...

This inhuman, abstract, harsh, vertical,
smooth aspect of the swimming pool.

The emptiness always visible below you,
no way to grab at something.

And the frightening echo,
the mess...

Hell is other people,
said general Bigeard

Well, that's just not true.
Hell is the swimming pool!

Anyway, I was so frightened,

that even though
the girl was very pretty,

and even though I had paid
in advance for 19 classes,

I never mustered the courage
to come back to this swimming pool.

Even nowadays, when I walk
in its street,

20 years later,
I take the other sidewalk.

There isn't enough light yet
to shoot in the bay.

Let's wait.

I still haven't told you
my third try.

It was in May 1968.

Tutsis had slaughtered
200 000 Hutus, in Burundi.

Carl Theodor Dreyer just died
following a fall in his tub.

My grandmother had died in February,

I told you about her...

Cultural revolution caused
2 millions of death in China.

And there were barricades in Paris.

Everything was fine.

I was renting

an apartment with a tub,
as I said earlier.

And I went to the beach
with topless women.

The sea was two meters deep
right away,

I couldn't do a thing.

I watched them, while
they were bathing.

I felt like a voyeur,

which bothered me,

and I felt that they were bothered,
which bothered me even more.

And I felt they were bothered

by feeling that I felt
that I bothered them.

But Luc, how do you want
me to remember this time,

ten years ago,

when we all very naturally
entered the water,

the weather was nice,
we were thinking of...

We were topless
and only thought of

enjoying ...

the Mediterranean sea,
and you were on the side,

I remember that you were there,

I didn't notice your...
little game...

I didn't... It didn't come
to my mind that you couldn't swim,

being older than I was.
I mean, for us...

You see...

This wasn't an issue.

So, how do you want me
to discuss...

No, I didn't notice anything.

And that's how I tried to learn
to swim once more, in order to...

Listen, the light is very good !

Let's hurry, otherwise,
it'll get cloudy,

and we won't be able to shoot a thing!

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!

It's too cold!

Aim all the spotlights
where I'm going to try to swim.

This will heat up the water.

Listen, we don't have any spotlights.

Nor do we have a generator! And even
if we did, we can't warm up the sea!

It's not the Atlantic,
it's not an ocean...

Just the Mediterranean sea...

A budget of 300 millions should be
enough to warm up the sea!


You'll get used to it! Move on!





I feel like James Mason
in A Star Is Born.

I think of [?]

Calm down! Calm down!

Sit down! Sit down!


My knees are in the water.



This is the main difficulty!

Cold is going
to seize my stomach.

The right ball!

The left ball!

Water submerged
my underwear at 10:47.

The spleen!
Silly me, I don't have one anymore.

Fifth rib.
Decisive passage.

More of my body is under the water
than outside of the water.

Third rib.

Collar bone.


Stop it, stop it!
Let someone come and fetch my glasses!


No, with their case!

I'm cold.

I'm waiting.

My watch.

I'll try again to put
my head under the water.

First impressions ?

It's wet.

I think I'm hearing someone
trying to break open a lock.

What I did, no beast
in the world...

Go up !

Hurry up !

Go up, assholes !
The wave is coming !

The wave is coming !

We need to postpone
the shooting.

There is too much wind,
the sound is going to be bad.

And the sun is very hard.

This will produce to
harsh of an image.

and your [?] won't be good.

You don't know a thing about this,
that's not your job!

The light is very good!


Come back down!
Right now!

One second!

This is dangerous,
the sea is right below!

June 6, 1980.

For the first time in three
years, I entered the water.

First contact was harsh.

What's going to happen?
I do not know.

What do you know, I'm floating !

I should breathe out while spreading
my arms, according to Boisseau's theory,

and while bringing them back,
according to Gr?nberg's theory.

But as to when
I'm allowed to inhale,

no one cares!

And the legs?
I forgot the legs!

Don't worry about the legs,
they're useless.

Come on, don't start!

One more theory! This is already
intricate enough!

I can spread arms and legs
at the same time, all right.

At a pinch, I can spread
my arms without spreading my legs.

At a pinch, I say.

But don't expect me to spread
my legs while bringing my arms closer.

This is too contradictory.
It gives me a headache!

I need some aspirin.

Asking this of me is an attempt
to the unity of my personality.

This is a human rights infringement
that went unnoticed!

I already tried once,
I remember!

I read Joyce and Machiavelli
in original language,

but this is really above
what I can do.

I feel like Ravaillac.

I feel like Poland between
1772 and 1919.

Quartered between Prussians
and Russians!

It's as if I was asked to
move forward while moving backward,

or to shoot a good movie
starring Romy Schneider.

But, on this morning

they said a shark was sighted
around here!

Not at all! You're the one frightening
the fish by moving around like this!

A rock!

My balls!

The only ones I have!

Why don't you swim
where it's deeper!

I'm fine.

What's the use of swimming
where you can walk?

Had I tried to swim
where I can't walk,

I wouldn't have swum any more.

When starting, better try to swim
where one can walk.

Because if you can swim in a place
where you can touch the bottom,

well, it means that you can swim as well
in a place where you couldn't touch it.

A bird in hand is worth two in a bush,
as Lacan would say.

The brightest thing he ever said,
by the way.

What kind of manners is that?

Pig! Numbskull!

Asshole! Plutocrat!

Son of a bitch!


You're as clumsy swimming
than dancing!

I dance very well!

You're mocking me.

But I dance as I feel like!

I don't need your set of rules
to dance, to swim,

to swim, or
to do anything else!

I'm tired to go to school

or to the barracks
to learn things.

And your smartasses
that dance

according your rules

and that follow
swimming textbooks...

They only like the sea,

because it's always the same.

The sea, always start again,
would say Giscard.

They love monotony,

sea is a stew,
the force of habit, the easy way!

No need for initiative,
just wait for retirement at 65.

Not again! You!

We're fed up! With seeing you!

You! You! You!

Enough! Enough waiting!
Your breaststroke!

Our skin! Is drying! Under the sun!

You! You! You!

Always! With your words!

The mouth full! Everything!

You! You! You!

Never! Never will you swim!

Your head is too heavy!

Your reason makes you drown!

You! You! You!

Shut up!

I've an idea!

This is it.
It doesn't hold.

It's not salted enough!

I need salt
to be fetched right away!

Not here, it's already
been done! Closer!

Let us now wait a couple of minutes

so that salt
can spread evenly everywhere!

Crap, I swallowed some.

I need to wait an hour
to digest it.

A chewing-gum is of
no importance.

You can go bathe right now!

I'm weary of hypothermia!

My cousin died of
hypothermia when she was 86,

when doing her laundry
in a stream.

I need to inquire about this.


All right! Victory!
I did it! I swam!

The movie is done!
We can leave!

Are you kidding us?

I swear, it lasted for
three or four seconds,

and if I swam for three
or four seconds,

I can as well swim for five
minutes, or a whole life!

Hurry up, or we'll miss the train!
I can see that happening.

We have to spend one more night
on the seafront...

Let's get back to Paris!

Let's wait for the development

of the underwater shot,
and we'll know if you swam.

I can smell gas...

There is an open tap somewhere.

Why are you still there, asshole,
you almost knocked me over!

This is polluted!

Was there the sea
at Auschwitz?

I had thought that,
by the end of the movie,

either I would know how to swim,

or I wouldn't know.

I had considered these two options.

But I hadn't thought

that I could not know
whether I knew how to swim.

I was caught off-guard.

I'm hungry!

No way! You can't, you need
to get back to the water!

Eat your condensed food.

The film is coming!

Crap, I have to try again.

When I was a fetus,
I was in water.

I'll get reaccustomed to water
by taking the fetal position.

Wait a minute!

I was probably fed up with water,

since I left early.

I was born at eight months.

Plus, if I start swimming,
I'll have remorse.

Because if I do swim,
it means I can swim.

It would then be my fault
if I haven't swum before,

if I deprived myself
of this pleasure for 40 years.

Maybe, unconsciously,
I'd rather not be able to swim,

so that it's not my fault.

This would mean my failure
was absolutely unavoidable.

You bought cheap salt,
didn't you?

Someone is looking
at me over there!

Get rid of him!
I don't want to be seen

trying to swim, it disturbs me!

I was trying to analyze
the reasons behind my failures.

What am I afraid of?
I can't drown here.

I'm afraid of not feeling the ground
anymore, of something coming from behind.

My survival instinct makes me
put my feet back on the ground.

I should suppress this instinct
in order to swim.

But it is thanks
to this survival instinct

that I'm still alive

I need to get used to water
by spending more time in it.

Perhaps was I not bathing
often enough.

Every year, I bathe once,
and only once, in the sea.

Not for long, just to remember
what it is like.

My rejection of the sea is thus
based on its practice,

not on ignorance.


However, these last two years,

I completely forgot to
carry out this task.

What a pleasure there is
in despising the sea, in taunting it

by being close to it,
yet not bathing in it,

not looking at it, not being its slave.

I even managed to go the Bahamas,

without bathing.

It had the same blast as,
when in New-York,

I refused to go up
the Empire State Building.

When I'm in Istanbul,
I won't visit Hagia Sophia.

When in Panama,
I won't go and see the canal.

When in Moscow,
I'll avoid the Red Square.

When I'm in Th?us,
I won't see the hoodoos.

One needs to go from
the reality principle :

"I'm not able to swim",

to the pleasure principle,
"I want to rip through the water".

Water send us back to the initial
trauma he hasn't dealt with yet.

The body rejects ripping
through the water,

because it's aware of the taboo
surrounding the mother.

It unconsciously rejects the amniotic.

And do you know why?

Because the body is offended
to have left it.

Say, who's this Italian director
who died during a shooting?

Pietrangeli, drowned.

And this French director
that died in the Caribbean ?

De Roubaix, drowned.

And there is this
Cahiers du Cin?ma critic, Biesse

Where did he die?
Drowned, but where?

Oh, yeah, in the Loire.

I'm sure Shakespeare
couldn't swim.

But Maurice Druon can,
I'm sure of it!

Edgar Poe was
a very good swimmer...

And [Fuller ?] was too.

[Quithis ?]... Jodorowsky...

And [Iancho ?]

[Aux ?]...




And Viviane [Bertomille?], of course.

Damn, I'm out of control,
swimming as I feel like!

You made it a couple meters!

Take advantage of it!

We could use a colored
rubber ring,

do some special effects in the lab!

No way!

What a purist!

A rubber ring is no different
from shingles on the chest.

You don't have shingles!
- And sadly so.

I need to be able to go on.

I need to be deflated!

But without my knowing,

otherwise, I'll be afraid.



I'm waiting!

Everything is up to me!

Technicians, good for nothing!

I think I'm swimming.

Fucking the sea.
- Stop, we're almost out of film.

No, I won't know
how to start again.

Come on, you're not going to
spend your life swimming.

You're in your depth.

One second!

I have a snail's pace.
I'm barely moving forward.

I can see nothing.
Lots of water, little land!

This is the least touristic and the
slowest of all means of transportation.

I understand why
Madame de S?vign?

wrote to Paul [Leothod ?]

["Paul, slow and steady
wins the swimming race".]

= ["Paul, swimming is useless, why are you doing it".]

I want to be refunded!

You can be sure
this was my last breaststroke.