Michel Ciment

Enlightening critic





"The world of criticism is bringing light to the dark, not the other way around." He feels a bit overwhelmed by young people, born with images and therefore sometimes better able to understand them. Surely superfluous humility for the legendary critic of Positif, sharing valuable advice on his profession in the framework of five thematic workshops. What are the cardinal virtues of the critic, Monsieur Ciment?


Michel Ciment Photo Sabine Perrin
© Institut Lumière / Sabine Perrin - Jean-luc Mège photography



"The article must inform. It’s the minimum; it seems absurd to me to have someone who does not know about cinema, under the pretext of a fresh eye, to write reviews. "

"There is a need for general culture. I have always been resistant to those who think that with one key they can open all the boxes. I believe there is not only one interpretation."

"Criticism is also a literary exercise. Robert Benayoun (Positif) writing about Resnais or Woody Allen was magnificent. Roger Tailleur on Kazan, Antonioni... He had only a middle school education, yet he is a great writer of the cinema. Truffaut was a great stylist, Bazin too. We cannot separate writing from what we transmit."

Passion / curiosity
"I'm 80 years old and I think passion is the big driving force. Already, the fact that nobody at Positif is paid requires a certain passion. It is necessary to have passion and curiosity to discover all these first films at festivals, to find the rare jewel."

Hierarchy of judgment
"I am struck by the simplification of everything for commercial reasons, for readership. A hierarchy makes it necessary to refine criteria and tastes. Life is a permanent choice, and choices must be made. We live too much under the rule of egalitarianism."

The eye
"In painting, it’s called the eye. A critic is that too. Pierre Rissient had the eye. He saw 20 minutes of a student film by Jane Campion and was capable of stating: she is a filmmaker. Truffaut had the eye, he discovered Howard Hawks."


Charlotte Pavard


Categories: Lecture Zen