Three things to know about… Wipe clean

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Bertrand Tavernier's tea towel
Tower Films/ Little Bear/ A2 Films

Bertrand Tavernier’s film with Philippe Noiret and Isabelle Huppert will return to C8 on Sunday.

A project long dreamed up by Alain Corneau

Wipe is the very free adaptation of a novel by Jim Thompson, 1275 souls, published in 1964. A dark novel set in the 1910s in the heart of Texas in the footsteps of a debonair sheriff, regularly humiliated by the inhabitants of his town, who will start methodically killing those who annoy him one by one . And alongside Bertrand Tavernier, Alain Corneau also had the desire in the 1970s to bring it to the screen to make it his first feature film as a filmmaker. To the point of going to the United States himself in search of the writer and temporarily taking him out of his alcohol addiction to write the screenplay with four hands. This 1275 souls never saw the light of day but in 1979, two years after Thompson’s death, Corneau took over his Clicks and cesspools to sign with Black sequence, one of the highlights of his career.

A story transposed from the United States to Africa

Yes Wipe was released in theaters in 1981, it had been 10 years since Bertrand Tavernier, a huge thriller lover, had in mind the idea of ​​bringing the work of Jim Thompson to the screen. But in his own way. The reading of journey to the Edge of the Night by Céline thus gave him the desire to transpose the story to another continent, Africa, and to another period, the eve of the Second World War. And he is going to recount the shift into ordinary madness of Lucien Cordier, the only policeman in a small town, openly deceived by his wife and laughed at by everyone. It takes ten months to convince the widow of Jim Thompson to give him the rights of adaptation. And he decides to write Wipe with Jean Aurenche, the screenwriter of Forbidden Games or of The Crossing of Paris, whose aura had paled after he was targeted by the Nouvelle Vague and brought back into the limelight by entrusting him with the co-writing of Let the party begin and The Judge and the Assassin, with 2 Caesars at stake. Aurenche, who traveled extensively in the French colonies, therefore helped him to develop this farcical fable, a portrait of a breathless reactionary France which, before becoming cult, was coldly welcomed by some of the critics – taken aback by the tone cheerfully flirting with surrealism – and by the Césars from which he left empty-handed, despite 12 nominations! Bertrand Tavernier often explained afterwards that he considered Wipe as his most autobiographical film.

Bertrand Tavernier – Eddy Mitchell second

Wipe brings together a leading cast: Philippe Noiret, Isabelle Huppert, Stéphane Audran, Jean-Pierre Marielle and… Eddy Mitchell. If the latter was directed here for the first time by Bertrand Tavernier, it was in fact their second collaboration. A year earlier, Eddy Mitchell had indeed interpreted and co-signed three songs from the soundtrack ofA vacation week, the very first by its regular composer Pierre Papadiamandis. ” One take and one was enough for each song liked to tell Tavernier, still amazed years later. And it was this meeting that prompted him to offer her to play in Wipe.

Bertrand Tavernier: “I have the impression of making a first film each time”

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