Double Exposure: Jean-Pierre Melville

1960s: Days of Rage


“Call him Melville. He picks his way through the rubble, skirts along charred walls, climbs over a roof beam here, steps on a windowpane there, bits of glass scraping underfoot like the screak of winter snow. He moves through interconnecting alleyways as through the maze of a Moroccan souk, sheer-sided as a prison perimeter, buttressed by fire-blackened metal uprights. A ladder much too short to scale a particular wall leans its lacquered wood against the pitted limestone, scored and scraped by tortured ghosts. A vacant lot in the 13th arrondissement, it looks from above like a concrete maze ringed by three- and four-story buildings. The surrounding dilapidation, the washing hung from the windows, mark the precincts of his ‘cobbler’s stall,’ as he liked to call his movie studio. Only the outer defenses of the fortress are left, tracing the rue Jenner and the rue Jeanne d’Arc, a ghost…

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