Film and Music Electronic Magazine

Les Années déclic (The Declic Years), a cinematographic portrait of Raymond Depardon

By Benoit Pavan, published on 15.05.2024

In the restored Les Années déclic (The Declic Years) screened at Cannes Classics, photographer Raymond Depardon dips into his archives and memories of 1957-1977 to bring audiences a cinematographic portrait and eyewitness account of the decades that shook French society.

“What was going on in my head? I don’t know. I wanted to be a photographer, someone who hunted down images. This card dates back to…”

In a monotonous tone, an off-screen Raymond Depardon provides a running commentary of the black-and-white photographs flashing by, spliced through with close-ups of his face lit by a projector as well as excerpts from films and personal documents.

Alone facing the camera, the photographer whispers to the viewer, his voice sometimes brimming with feeling as he recounts his early days as a photographer and film-maker, the triumphs and doubt that stalked those first few forays, and the “luck” that shined down on him from the day he left the farm where he was born in Villefranche-sur-Saône and arrived in Paris.

The film is a chronological recounting of his twenty-year career as a photographer, leading the viewer through a whirlwind of film sets and protests outside the HQ, piecing together a portrait of French society in the throes of change. It serves as a reminder too of Raymond Depardon as one of the greats who left his mark on the golden age of photojournalism.

“Raymond Depardon is an image harvester rather than an image hunter, a gleaner rather than a predator,” according to journalist Gérard Lefort, who wrote the texts for the 1984 book that brings together the photography from the documentaries.

“Behind any camera, whether photographic or cinematographic, he never loses a crumb. In fact, he catches all these crumbs, these situations, landscapes, bodies and faces, transforming them into a vision of the world, which, just like a hearty meal, calls to be shared,” he noted.

Presented by Films du Losange. 4K restoration supervised by Claudine Nougaret and Raymond Depardon at the TransPerfect Media laboratory using negative image and 35mm negative magnetic slides.

Attended by Claudine Nougaret and Raymond Depardon.

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