Le système D.: Le camion

  • James S. Williams


Circulating between the differently lit and angled interiors of ‘décor 1’ and ‘décor 2’ in ‘la chambre noire’ (or ‘chambre de lecture’), and, more generally, between the home-made studio ‘inside’ and the industrial ‘outside’ of Trappes and Plaisir in the Yvelines, Camion appears to be essentially a set of playful variations on a theme. Its rhythm conforms both to the road-movie genre, where time on the road alternates with scenes off the road (as in Nicholas Ray’s They live by night [1948] and Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider [1969]), and to a modernist aesthetic which Duras herself helped to create with Resnais in Hiroshima, where horizontal, tracking shots of the quotidian are intercut by vertical, still-frames of action (similarly in India Song, the exterior ‘repeat shots’ are punctuated by the ‘ceremonial space’ of the reception scenes).1 In fact, the recurring outside shots of Camion constitute a frame through which the blue Saviem lorry passes, painfully yet sensuously, like an ever virtual, French kiss (saviem, first-person subjunctive of the Latin verb s(u)aviare, to kiss). In so doing, it performs literally what the extract from Grévisse’s bible of French grammar, Le bon usage, used as an epigraph for the text of Camion, claims as the defining quality of the ‘preludic conditional’, namely, to ‘transport’ the event into the field of fiction.2 After Delphine Seyrig’s naked breast in India Song, Duras gives us here the most neutral object of our desires, thirty-two tons of it, in a free-flow of absorption and incorporation. Sublime.


Minimalist Film Female Orgasm Neutral Object Personal Passage Shot Sequence 
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Notes to Chapter 2

  1. 6.
    René Prédal, ‘Entretien avec Marguerite Duras’, Jeune Cinéma, No. 104 (July—August 1977), pp. 16–21; p. 19.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    Kaja Silverman, ‘Masochism and Subjectivity’, Framework, No. 12 (1981), pp. 2–9; p. 4.Google Scholar
  3. 10.
    See Joan Copjec, ‘The compulsion to repeat; India Song/Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert’, October, No. 17 (1981), pp. 37–52.Google Scholar
  4. 26.
    See Youssef Ishaghpour, D’une image à l’autre: La nouvelle modernité au cinéma, Paris, Denoèl/Gonthier, 1981, pp. 256–67.Google Scholar
  5. 27.
    See Daniel Gunn, Psychoanalysis and Fiction: an exploration of literary and psychoanalytical borders, Cambridge, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1988, in particular, ‘For to end yet again’, pp. 124–32.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© James S. Williams 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • James S. Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KentCanterburyUK

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