Le fantôme d'Henri Langlois (2004)
Henri Langlois: [referring to his trip to receive an Oscar in 1974] When I arrived in L.A. I thought that the Oscar was like our Legion of Honor. But it's much more important than that because everyone and his brother gets one of those eventually. An Oscar is truly a serious matter. I didn't realize how much it meant. It's comparable to being chosen as a master craftsman by one's fellows in the time of the guilds.
Henri Langlois: One must save everything and buy everything. Never assume you know what's of value.
Serge Toubiana: The notion of authorship certainly took on visibility and became obvious to Truffaut as a critic in the 1950s because Langlois reinvorced the auteur theory by showing everything an auteur made, even long-ago artists. The idea was afoot that each individual film contributes to an auteur's body of work, which differs from the now-current somewhat mistaken notion of "the director." That's not quite right. An auteur isn't a director. It's someone who has a vision for each film, but also from film to film.
Henri Langlois: There are cinéphiles and cinéphages. Truffaut is a cinéphile. A cinéphage - a film nerd - sits in the front row and writes down the credits. But if you ask him whether it's good, he'll say something sharp. But that's not the point of movies: to love cinema is to love life, to really look at this window on the universe. It's incompatible with note-taking!
Henri Langlois: [to Alfred Hitchcock] I'm thrilled about your Legion of Honor in the name of cinema and in the name of people who truly love France, adore England and truly love the USA, because you're from all three and that makes one. Now, with your permission, I'll quickly read this: In the name of the President of France - that's funny - by virtue of the powers vested in me - that's odd - I make you a Knight in the Legion of Honor.
[Pins the Medal of Honor on Hitchcock and kisses him on both cheeks]
Henri Langlois: An art form requires genius. People of genius are always troublemakers, meaning they start from scratch, demolish accepted norms and rebuild a new world. The problem with cinema today is the dearth of troublemakers. There's not a rabble-rouser in sight. There was still one, but he went beyond troublemaker to court jester. He clobbered the status quo. That's Godard. We're fresh out of "bad students." You'll find students masquerading as bad ones, but you won't find the real article, because a genuine bad student upends everything.
Glenn Myrent: I'd say the Langlois Museum's major significance is that we see, for the first time, unfolded in one place, the whole glorious history of cinema. Proving how international, how huge and elaborate the saga is. He showed us film history in all its complexity. Before the 1960s it was standard to say, "Film history begins with the Lumière Brothers in France and Edison in the U.S." The central fight was over who really invented movies. But the museum goes back centuries before: Chinese shadow puppets, magic lanterns, the discoveries of Emile Reynaud, Etienne-Jules Marey, Muybridge and many others. And it became obvious that it wasn't in 1895 that the cinema was born.
Henri Langlois: [referring to the objects in the Museo du Cinéma] When I started collecting these things, I was criticized - they said, "What's the use? Fetishistic idiocy," etc. My aim was to recreate an atmosphere, transmit a feeling. The artistry is in the actual film. So, Martine Carol's or Marlene Dietrich's dress doesn't send me. What counts is a composite reference. We're matchmakers of illusion.