Hélène Frappat, writer: “All women, on the cinema screen which is real life magnified, are survivors”

Hélène Frappat, writer: “All women, on the cinema screen which is real life magnified, are survivors”


A wind of revolt is blowing across France. By giving voice to the little girl that she was, Judith Godrèche broke the spell by which every woman, who is “nothing other than a little girl who has grown up” wrote Henry James (1843-1916) , must live while dealing with this cumbersome creature, sometimes talkative, often mute, this frightened little ghost forced, from birth, to arm itself in order to survive. It’s the little girls’ revolt! It seems that our culturally reactionary country, this time, will not be able to muzzle them.

What is France’s problem?, a journalist from the New York Times recently asked me. He struggled to understand why the self-proclaimed nation of human rights remained the last to support (finance, praise, defend) filmmakers banned from the United States for sexual crimes, such as Woody Allen or Roman Polanski. I thought about. Little by little, armies of dead young girls came back to my memory, processions of ghosts paraded before my eyes, lifting my heart.

The French problem, I replied, is the romanticism scam. I am talking about the artistic movement produced by our ultrabourgeois and reactionary 19th century. This century which sanctified the property and authority of the father of the family over his wife, justified the murder of the unfaithful wife by qualifying as a “crime of passion” what historians now call “feminicide”, simultaneously generated our model of transgressor creator and his “muse” . Virginal body and mute mouth – a silence evoking the anatomical plates of ancient Greece, where the two mouths of the woman, uterus and speaking mouth, are muzzled by the same lock –, “eternal feminine”, “dead in love”: the muse is a corpse of a woman, a corpse of a little girl.

Violence and domination of the strong

Do you want to know why the status of women exists, whether we like it or not? Because in every woman, young or old, there is a little girl. Like Little Red Riding Hood to whom Judith Godrèche compared, on France Inter, on February 8, the child she was – a child who began to earn her living at 8 years old by appearing in advertisements, before being chosen at 14 years old by a wolf proud of his “Bluebeard syndrome” , the filmmaker Benoît Jacquot – each woman learns, from birth, that her life will also be a survival one.

“The song of the wolf is the sound of the torment you will have to suffer; in itself, it is already murder,” writes Angela Carter in The Company of Wolves (Points, 1997). The English writer, who died prematurely in 1992, undertook to rewrite Bluebeard , Beauty and the Beast , Snow White … adopting the point of view of the heroine, who, in the traditional version, is systematically mute, petrified, oppressed, horrified, disgusted, married, massacred.

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