When Nelly Kaplan plays with fire

At the age of seven, when she saw a train from the Buenos Aires subway spinning, Nelly Kaplan had a sort of illumination: she was going to leave. A few years later, a long and beautiful teenage girl arrived alone in Paris, barely speaking French. Nelly Kaplan has always believed in destiny, and the most beautiful encounters of her youth have enough to confirm this faith: “They happened by chance, in public places, she says: Abel Gance at the Cinémathèque, Philippe Soupault in a exhibition, André Breton at the Museum of Decorative Arts ”. But it is undoubtedly no coincidence that the director of Napoleon and the surrealist writers distinguished this “exorbitant flower”, as Soupault would say, in the midst of the Parisian crowd.

She was to become Abel Gance’s assistant in 1954, and to live with the great filmmaker “a passionate relationship of rare frenzy”, to use her own expression. Between the young panther of twenty years and the old lion in her sixties, the magnetism is all the more powerful as they share the intensity, the will and the intellectual and spiritual requirement to explore the mysteries of the world.

“Gance was an extraordinary genius, we forget him too much today,” says the director of La Fiancée du pirate. For him, the cinema could not exist without poetry and without knowledge. He had an insatiable literary, philosophical, scientific, esoteric curiosity. He had premonitions on the edge of quantum physics. And he did extensive research in the metaphysical field, on time, in particular. I found myself integrated into this quest, invested with a sort of mission: he thought that thanks to me, to my youth, he could reach a mythical beyond of time. It was beautiful and exhausting. Too heavy and too exclusive for me not to escape one day. But of admirable richness. “

A humorous and mythical investigation

A trace of it remains in Abel Gance’s letters to Nelly Kaplan. And their resurgence is another story, or rather a new avatar of their story: “a sort of alchemical transmutation,” says Nelly Kaplan, “which brings to mind what has been experienced in the flesh”. She was beginning to write a short story, “a funny thriller”, when she was invited last year to read her correspondence with Abel Gance at the Festival of correspondence in Grignan. In duet with Samuel Labarthe, the evening was such a success that the idea sprouted to publish a choice of these letters, especially since it was a wish of Abel Gance himself, who wanted to perpetuate ” this quest for Terre-Adélie which will forever mark our meeting ”.

And as “the letters have crept into the thriller I was writing, the real correspondence and the fictional story have become inseparable”. Hence this double book, published head to tail by Editions du Rocher. Open it on the black side, here are the authentic letters, and the high figure of Abel Gance. Open it on the pink side: you will find a humorous and mythical investigation led by private detective Dora Stern. It’s a toy book. But as always, Nelly Kaplan plays with fire. That of strong passions, lightning and comets that hollow out the sky.

“My swan, my sign…”, correspondence Abel Gance-Nelly Kaplan, and “And Pandora had two! », Detective novel by Nelly Kaplan. A single volume, published by the Rocher, € 17.90.

Find “My swan, my sign …” and “And pandora had two!” by Nelly Kaplan with alapage.com

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