A little while ago, I leaned out of my
New York hotel window to smoke a cigarette and I came face to face
with a squirrel. He vaguely turned
to look at me, not very interested by my presence, then went about
his business: running from branch to branch, cleaning his nose with
his front paws, etc.
I had already noticed this in the parks of New York: American squirrels
are very different from European squirrels; bigger, more gray than
red and considerably less wild. In France, the little red squirrels
are as wild as coyotes. (I say this because of Mr. Connolly’s
novels but, to tell you the truth, I don’t know if American coyotes
are that wild.) Anyway, when I think of how difficult the scene between
Constance and the squirrel was to film in France, I say to myself that
it would have been much simpler to film it here.
A few days ago, in New York, there was a cocktail
organized for the film, sponsored by a famous brand of lingerie. While
I was taking absurd
photos with fashion models, I was told that there were concerns about
displaying the poster for the film in the store window. It was too
crude and too sexual for their taste. (The poster here incriminated
is the image of the two lovers making love in the forest. We only see
their faces, particularly Constance’s smiling face. It’s
an image that conveys both pleasure and joy. The joy of physical love
and life’s energy all in one.)
So, the image was seen as too crude.
Yet everywhere in the window and in the rest of the store, on other
posters, on mannequins and video monitors, there were half-naked women,
selling their charm to promote the brand in question.
I would have loved to tell this story to D.H. Lawrence, the author
of the novel. I would have loved for him to know that 80 years after
the publication of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, when the human body
has become a merchandise item everywhere, the simple image of a sexually
fulfilled couple still raises issues.
That’s what I believe is at the heart of the matter. I imagine
that all over the world thousands of pages have been written on the
Lady Chatterley scandal and why it was banned for decades. My natural
tendency would be to retain only one explanation: it is a guiltless
love story. The two lovers transgress all the rules that existed in
their time, all the accepted behaviors, all the unwritten social codes,
and they do it without any sense of guilt. This points to the revolutionary
power of physical love when its fulfillment is fused with the personal
liberation of the two protagonists.
While sitting in the plane on the way to Los Angeles
to meet film students, I am reminded of the writings of Orhan Pamuk,
the Turkish writer who
won the Nobel Prize for literature. Roger Bohbot, the film’s
co-screenwriter, gave it to me during a dinner before I left Paris.
Panuk writes: “Any true literature relies on the simple and optimistic
belief that all men are alike.“ The sentence in its purity and
simplicity is as translucent as a brilliantly cut diamond. Of course
I agree. And no other cultural or racial difference, whether we are
dealing with squirrels or human beings, will make me think otherwise.