En épluchant les listes de DVD, je suis tombé avec étonnement sur Dialogues with Solzhenitsyn : a film by Alexander Sokurov. J’étais moins étonné de voir que le film était édité par Facets Video, de la dynamique cinémathèque de Chicago qui doit faire mourir d’envie bien d’autres institutions du genre. J’ai été étonné de nouveau en mettant le DVD dans mon lecteur lorsque je me suis aperçu qu’il ne s’agissait pas de dialogues posthumes… Soljenitsyne est encore vivant! Et Sokurov parle avec lui! Fascinant du début à la fin.
Dans la première partie, The Knot, Sokurov commence par dresser un sobre portrait biographique de Soljenitsyne à l’aide d’images. Ensuite, la seconde épouse de l’auteur, Natalia Svetlova, répond à quelques questions, notamment sur leur retour en Russie après plusieurs années passées aux États-Unis et sur la quasi-absence de reconnaissance de la part des Russes envers l’œuvre de Soljenitsyne.
Sokurov y va de son opinion tout au long du document visuel. Par exemple, «I don’t know about you, but I felt guilty. I felt guilty that we had [certainement il s’adresse aux Russes] nothing to receive him with, that we had nothing to give him».
Même s’il s’agit en quelque sorte d’un documentaire (philosophique), on y retrouve toute la poésie propre à Sokurov, ses leitmotivs visuels comme l’utilisation du noir et blanc, du monochrome, du flou, du brouillard, des plans fixes ainsi que la place donnée à la nature.
Le cinéaste s’introduit ensuite dans la vie de Soljenitsyne en l’accompagnant dans sa promenade quotidienne dans la nature. Il lui pose alors un certain nombre de questions banales et d’autres d’ordre philosophique. Cette balade rappelle étrangement un passage de August 1914, au deuxième chapitre, où l’étudiant Isaakii Lazhenitsyn se rend dans le jardin de Tolstoï pour poser une question au sage, alors qu’il faisait sa promenade quotidienne dans la nature.
Sur amazon.com The Dialogues with Solzhenitsyn (1998)
Voici des extraits que j’ai transcrits.
Sokurov insiste pour comprendre la cruauté humaine.
You see, all religions are against cruelty, all of them, but cruelty remains.
That’s what they’re for: so that man can have a shield, a brake. Repentance was so common in Russia. Now it doesn’t exist any more. Now you’ll never make anybody repent. I appealed for it in my article. Everybody just laughed. Whatever should repentance be for? When in some of my works I give way to my own repentance, the only result is : «Look, look, he himself is like this». No one thinks «Let me do it myself. I will try». [...] If it were only cruelty... How about greed? Is greed a lesser trouble than cruelty? Greed destroys the human race. Greed destroys everybody. Man can’t stop and say: «That will do. I’ve got enough. I’m perfectly satisfied».
To know is nothing. One has to let it into one’s heart. One may know anything. Some people know that God exists, even some scientists, some great physicists admit it, others don’t know. One knows, another doesn’t. No, it must be in the heart. One must live with it. Morality is not attained by knowledge. It is attained first in a child’s upbringing, then by a self-teaching. In this way, through experience.
[…] And now you have to please millions. But their tastes aren’t developed. They are different. To please millions, quality decreases. But in fact, my idea is that in fact mass culture must not necessarily be low-level. Folklore is a proof. Folklore is a high-level art. And for the masses. [...] Folklore can attain, on one hand, a high level, and on the other, popularity. But in the art of today, this is not what matters in today’s art. It can, even remaining individual and professional, attain both a high level and mass accessibility. That can be attained. We mustn’t think that we are condemned to produce low-end rubbish.
-Is literature an emotional or a rational art?
Emotional. There are rational elements in it. There are even elements of scholarship, of analysis. But emotions must be there, otherwise it’s boring.
-So, literature is a structural art, by its nature, isn’t it? Is it close to architecture, if one wants to understand?
What is closer to? The prose is closer to architecture, you’re right.
-With its space, its laws, its freedom?
Its history. And the cinema, to the theatre?
-Nowhere. It goes nowhere
No to the theatre?
-It’s not an art at all.
Not an art? It’s wrong. It is an art. Must I convince you? This is an art. And in your works, it is an art.
-No, it just charms people. Charm is temptation. Charm is not love. It is temptation. Literature is an art.
[Silence de Soljenitsyne]
Which changes in the moral geography of man are irreversible?
Interesting. [...] I will answer you simply from a Christian point of view. The Christians believe everything is reversible, any sin, even any crime. While man is alive, he can understand and repent. In this respect, it is reversible. But you can’t repair anything. The result of your crime cannot be repaired. It’s in the past. Nothing to do. Only to grieve and to change. Still, Christianity appreciate it very much, this renewal of the soul, whenever it happens, even at the very end. This is Christianity. Otherwise, in our days, these turns of enlightenment become rare. One follows assuredly one’s wrong path. The Age tells him: «Go on». «Go on, everyone behaves so». This «everyone does» ossifies souls completely. People condemn themselves to complete perdition.
-Crime and punishment?
Yes it is, the punishment is that man can’t repent any more, lost in this stream and in this stream, he’s not even a person. The reason is: «Everyone does so». This is the most terrible idea.
The higher power is always God, and those who cannot attain religious conscience, must have at least some humility towards existence. Remember the tree yesterday, each tree makes us stand in awe. And is it only trees? What about birds? Animals? Rivers? Mountains? Humility towards existence. Understanding our limitedness, our wretchedness. If not believing in God.
In general, mankind became so enthusiastic about progress, pushing forward with it ever since the Age of Enlightenment. But in reality, all mankind has won its spiritual emptiness. Only technology, civilisation, give-me-all, all the goods, now the Internet, the stream of information leaves no more air to breathe, the soul goes empty. The soul is empty, death is terrifying, nowhere to go.
-Art suffers pressure from progress.
Yes, you see, unfortunately progress did not, as we see it... The progress we know made its biggest steps in the last 4-5, no, 4 centuries. Before, it was very slow. Millennia went on slowly, with very few changes. But from the start today’s progress has overlooked the soul. The emptiness of the soul. People began to lose their soul to material growth, to civilisation. We have spoken of this.