“I mean, are we just like bored, spoiled children who’ve been lying in the bath-tub all day playing with their plastic duck and now they’re thinking, well, what can I do?”
The 1981 film My Conversation with André was just that—two men, one Andre, having a conversation for over 90 minutes.
It wasn’t a documentary, neither was it fiction. The film’s director, Louis Malle, filmed several conversations with the two actors, both of whom played themselves. André Gregory, a renowned experimental theater director, and playwright and actor Wallace Shawn (best known to children of the ’80s from The Princess Bride). Those conversations were edited together to create the movie.
Later, Shawn would deny that the actors played themselves, saying that they only used aspects of their own lives, and could have easily switched characters. Curiously, in an interview in 2009, Shawn said: “I actually had a purpose as I was writing this: I wanted to destroy that guy that I played, to the extent that there was any of me there. I wanted to kill that side of myself by making the film, because that guy is totally motivated by fear.”
Regardless, the film is a brilliant piece of work, and has gone on to become an art-house classic. Renowned film critic Roger Ebert named it his movie of the year.
In this one short five minute clip, André discusses the nature of the world, how it is changing and how we’ve become both prisoners in a jail of our own making, and the guards in that jail.
Thirty-two years later and his words seem to take on new relevance.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise