Monday, November 24, 2008

Ray Durgnat Remembered

I’ll always have fond memories of my film theory lectures at the University of East London. The promise of watching cool French New Wave movies had me eagerly scampering through the less-than-lovely environs of Plaistow to the art dept. at Greengate every Wednesday.

Most of all I used to love listening to the lecturer waxing lyrical about the revolutionary days of the 1960s, where films were not merely entertainment, but weapons that would bring down capitalism and replace it with some kind of Maoist utopia.

His name was Ray Durgnat (we called him Ray Donut of course - oh, what wits). He was a slightly shambolic, eccentric little guy in big horn-rimmed glasses and a beard. He wasn’t particularly charismatic or forceful, but his knowledge of film had me captivated.

He hung out with Jean-Luc Godard when radicalism was at its height – and Paris was briefly convulsed by glorious anarchy - in 1968. His anecdotes from the period were full of wry observation, but he never traded on them like some would.

And I just found out that he died. Six years ago.

So I’m a bit late with this, but Ray Durgant I salute you. Your books on Godard and the Nouvelle Vague (which I found accidentally in Scoob Books) are bloody great and I loved your lectures.

Here’s Ray’s obituary for those interested in this modest, brilliant man


Steve said...
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Steve said...

That's a lovely testimony, Tris, to someone who was obviously a lovely man.

James Williams said...

There's a Facebook page

James Williams said...

p.s I also attended Ray's film theory classes in Plaistow - enthralling!