THE FRENCH ACTRESS SPEAKS OF MEN, WOMEN AND EQUALITY IN 1976.
Byline: Howard Kissel, July 1976
Like many actresses, Jeanne Moreau realized that meaty roles for women — the kind that brought her to world stardom in films like “Jules and Jim,” “La Notte,” “Les Amants” and “Diary of a Chambermaid” in the early Sixties — are just not being written any more.
She understands why.
“More and more now, men are afraid to write about women. I think it’s a reaction that is very truthful. Until now everything has been expressed by men. Women who have been shown have been expressed through the eyes and sensitive feelings of men. Now the men who write and direct films are saying, ‘We thought we knew about these human beings, but we’re not sure, so we’ll write about our concerns — heroism, war, destruction…”‘
Moreau is not a feminist (“I am against this ‘war’ between the two types of human beings on the earth”), but her greatest concern has always been equality.
“The women I played in my early pictures were trying to find themselves. They wanted to be a part of a man’s life, but they didn’t want to submit. But in any couple — even two men — one has to be the leader, the other has to submit.
“I’ve always been seeking equality. It’s the only word that means anything to me….Equality is the most difficult thing to achieve. If you just look for it, you will never get it. You have to fight for it. But I hate that word fight. I hate aggression. I prefer to be beaten than to beat. I don’t want to beat anybody….”
“Being an actress and being a woman have never been split for me. I haven’t got a career. I have a life. I can express myself as an artist in everything I do. If a woman is not ashamed of being a woman, she develops — not on purpose, but instinctively — a close relationship with life through her body. All these strange movements that go on in a woman’s body, the fact that she can give birth — it’s incredible. When you have the pleasure of being a woman, you’re in constant touch with earthy, natural things like the cycles of the moon. You’re less concerned than men with destruction.”