Marceline Loridan-Ivens: a moving account.

When I prepare dinner in the evening, I like to listen to the radio and it usually falls during Le Grand Entretien on France Inter. François Busnel, a journalist spends an hour interviewing different people from authors to comedians to politicians. I like the way this journalist conducts the interviews. He usually asks interesting, deep questions and let the interviewee time to respond.


Last week, I listened to a series of interviews with Marceline Loridan-Ivens: Born in Épinal, France, in 1928, Marceline Loridan was among the Jews already in hiding during World War II when she was arrested with her father in the Vaucluse in 1943. Deported to Birkenau, where her father perished, Marceline returned to France in July 1945. It was her experience as a young Holocaust survivor that made her the principal figure in Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin’s 1959 landmark film, Chronique d’un été/Chronicle of a Summer… She is known around the world for the superb documentaries that she co-directed with her husband, the Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens (1898–1989).” She is 84 years old but when you hear her speak, you would think she is much younger. I really like to listen to the “war” generation speaks, like my grand-mother for example, because they speak a French we do not speak anymore. French people nowadays often end their sentences with “voila” which is quite annoying whereas people from the war generation use a wider range of vocabulary and have a beautiful phrasing. Apart from speaking so well, Marceline Loridan-Ivens is a strong woman. Despite her age, she communicates a positive energy and I still cannot stop thinking back to what she said. Two particular points resonate:

  • We have more inner strength and energy than what we think we have and this energy is revealed when we have to overcome hard times.
  • Take risks. Don’t be afraid. Fear stops you from achieving what you want, what you dream of.

She wrote a book Ma vie balagan. Balagan in Yiddish meaning chaos. Listen to her interview in French here. You could have more advanced French learners listened to her as she speaks quite slowly and she pronounces the words so well!






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