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1933 __ « La Grande Complainte de Fantômas »
Robert Desnos (1900-1945)
Comment : Desnos's radio career took off in November 1933, when he created a publicity campaign on Radio-Paris for a revival of the legendary pre-World War I superhero-thief Fantômas. Desnos's poem "La Grande Complainte de Fantômas" was the centerpiece of an important radio show -- with original music by Kurt Weill, dramatic direction by Antonin Artaud, and music by Carpentier -- produced by the Foniric Studios. Youki explains how Desnos mobilized such friends as Georges Gautré and Lise Deharme to help with the production by singing songs in the background in addition to "a real street singer" and "a baritone from the Opera". Artaud himself read the role of Fantômas and was, as many testified, unforgettable. The poem was interspersed with dramatic sketches. The show opened with an inviation to remember the year 1913-14 then moved into the clamor of voices in a busy bar, where the customers' orders were interrupted by the cries of newspapers boys calling out the headlines, including the repeated name of the notorious criminal, "FANTÔMAS". Desnos's poetic text then began by exhorting the listener to pay attention : "Listen ... Be quiet" (“Écoutez ... Faites silence”). Playing on the emotions, it aimed to thrill its listeners with fear experienced as pleasure, since the show was scheduled for the peak time of 8:15pm, an hour when it would be heard by most auditors in the controlled and sage environment of a household .[...] On the day the "Complainte" was broadcast, the program's raison d'être was supported theoretically by Deharme in an article that emphasized the auditory power of radio drama: "In truth, it's less a question of compensating for the absence of sight and more a question of using that absence; the music and certain motifs nourish the imagination, and work even more effectively because we hear them with our eyes closed, so to speak". [...] Deharme believed that radio voices had the power to touch and spark the auditory imagination of listeners. "Words", he wrote, " are at the same time sonorous facts and symbols, therefore they are producers of images and of simultaneous sensations". Words that are heard are evocative in similar ways to words that are read, but, because of their voicing on the radio, they transmit other "sensations", such as the awareness of a breathing body whose mood may be palpably intuited from what Barthes would call the "graininess" of the voice. Voiced words become part of a broader vocabulary projected into the imagination of listeners and including such nonverbal "sonorous facts" as sighs, gasps, laughs, coughs, and silences. This sensual, nonvisual, fleshly "language", as we have seen, can create the illusion of recovering something that has been lost (most notably the "sonorous envelope" of the mother's voice heard by every infant in the womb) and can therefore rekindle a primal, deep-seated pleasure linked to identity formation. Deharme's goal in his radio theory and in his effort to harness Desnos's surrealist energy was to increase the auditory pleasure of listeners and to maximize the powerful effect of the new medium of the radio. (Katharine Conley)
French comment : L’avènement du cinéma parlant est l’occasion d’un retour de Fantômas sur grand écran en 1932 sous la direction de Paul Féjos. La même année, Paul Deharme, l’un des maîtres de la radio offre à Robert Desnos de travailler à ses côtés. Il réalise avec lui la célèbre émission radiophonique à épisodes “La grande complainte de Fantômas”, le 3 Novembre 1933, d'après le roman de Pierre Souvestre et Marcel Allain. La musique est de Kurt Weill, Antonin Artaud assure la direction dramatique et joue le rôle de Fantômas. (Compiled from various sources)
Original excerpt : « 1 - Écoutez,... Faites silence... / La triste énumération / De tous les forfaits sans nom, / Des tortures, des violences / Toujours impunis, hélas ! / Du criminel Fantômas. [...] » (“Complainte de Fantômas”, d’après l'émission de radio “La Grande Complainte de Fantômas”, 1933)
Source : Conley, Katharine (2003), "Robert Desnos, Surrealism, and the Marvelous on Everyday Life", University of Nebraska Press, pp. 103-104.
Urls : http://wikilivres.info/wiki/Complainte_de_Fantômas (last visited )

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