Moderato Cantabile

Topics: Marguerite Duras, Piano pedagogy, Les Éditions de Minuit Pages: 5 (1770 words) Published: March 5, 2013
Compare Marguerite Duras’ novel Moderato Cantabile, with Peter Brook’s version of the film. Which, in your view, is more successful? Why?

Moderato Cantabile tells the story of a bored young wife of a wealthy industrial owner who depends on the only light in her life, her young son. Anne Desbarede the central protagonist rushes to the scene of a crime during one of her son’s piano lesson to find a young woman dead in a neighbouring cafe. This is where she encounters the other main protagonist Chauvin, an ex-worker at her husband’s factory who has also witnessed the murder. The troubled woman increasingly identifies herself with the murder victim and quickly becomes obsessed with Chauvin. The couple are apparently reconstructing the murder story, however really it is their own story, a story of a woman discovering herself and a man desiring to kill his lover. I find it difficult to answer the question of whether the film or the novel was more successful because although there are differences in the film I found the mood and general atmosphere to be almost identical. For this reason I intend to argue for both sides, as I have experienced good and bad points within the two works. When we watch a movie or read a novel we have particular expectations of format. The introduction of characters, plot development and a certain outcome are the usual conventions that permit us a superior perspective on the narrative. However from my reading and viewing of Moderato Cantabile I have discovered that it goes against these formal conventions and is filled with symbols and metaphors. Studying it is difficult, as one must use intuition and go on a hunch, see through the allusion and try and understand what is being suggested and intimated to us. In comparison to formal conventions, it makes it difficult for the reader or viewer to achieve this vantage point. Their notable absence in both of the works compels the viewer or reader to discover other ways of connecting to the stories. I believe that poetry is this new convention. Poetic qualities can be found in both works which enhances the reader or viewers experience while also reducing our conscious comprehension of the work. Through the reading of this novel, Marguerite Duras teaches us to become more subtle and skilful as readers, to gain insight it is necessary to read what is being intimated between the lines. What we are told is always implicitly implied, she rarely gives us any hard facts to go on. Duras places emphasis on the physicality and also the musicality of her writing. A good representation of this is when we read about the child playing piano. He gives into the honey of the music and it flows from his finger tips. There is a suggestion made that it is not music when you are forced to play it, like the angry piano teacher does during the boys uncomfortable piano lessons. We experience as readers the sensuality of the music, as though the heart submerges in the liquid of the unknown and brings the musician and the listener sheer joy. It seems that the art of music will only really impact on ourselves when we truly let ourselves go. We as readers become captivated by the spontaneity and freeness of the song. We are made aware that Anne is proud of her son for not conforming to the expectations of the middle class, the piano teacher in his case. We see him blatantly reject the rules and regulations of the education system which suppresses the flow of music, rejecting also through this, snobbery and cultural elitism. Throughout the novel he is an emblem of magic, possibility, mystery and suggestion is made that perhaps Anne missed out on the freedom to follow her instincts and desires like her child is now doing. This is perhaps why Anne is so fascinated by the murdered woman, who lived following her desires, feeling extreme emotions which Anne’s education system doesn’t allow her to feel. Anne’s natural instinct, drive and energies must all be hidden away. She lives a...
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