Francophiles’ Guide to Quarantine, v. VII

A Few Laughs, Movies, Music and Cave Bears

April 29, 2020By Heidi EllisonWhat's New Art & Culture
The main characters in the film <em>Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire),</em> directed by Céline Sciamma, set in the 18th century, were well-prepared for social distancing far ahead of their time.
The main characters in the film Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), directed by Céline Sciamma and set in the 18th century, were well-prepared for social distancing far ahead of their time.

We wanted to start our quarantine activities list this week with a few laughs: the collection of jokes about lockdown in France pictured below (click on the image to enlarge it). Translation of a couple of examples: “They say we should sneeze in the Manche [a French department, but also the word for “sleeve”], but I live in the Gers!” and “If the schools stay closed much longer, parents, not scientists, will find a vaccine.”

French jokes about the Covid-19 crisis making the rounds of the Internet.
French jokes about the Covid-19 crisis making the rounds of the Internet (click on image to enlarge).

Thanks to Constance Sherak for sending them in, as well as another example of French humor that is riding the waves of social media: a list of plot lines about lockdown as described by various writers (use the comments section at the end of this article to invent your own, in French or English).

Gustave Flaubert: Raconte l’ennui d’une jeune femme confinée avec son mari.
Honoré de Balzac: Raconte l’histoire de la fabrication du canapé où son héros est assis.
Marcel Proust: Son héros tond pendant le confinement. L’odeur de l’herbe coupée lui remémore son passé.
Samuel Beckett: Deux hommes attendent la fin du confinement qui n’arrivera jamais.
Eugène Ionesco: Le confinement attend la fin de l’homme.
Èmile Zola: Raconte avec précision le quotidien d’un ouvrier d’Amazon contraint de travailler.
Guy de Maupassant: Son héros confiné a des hallucinations et devient fou.
Georges Feydeau: Un mari, sa femme et l’amant de celle-ci sont confinés ensemble, des quiproquos en perspective.
Guillaume Musso: Deux personnes que tout oppose sont confinés dans la même maison. Ils tombent amoureux.
Marguerite Duras: Confinée. Se confiner. Je crois que ça va durer 14 jours. Ou peut-être plus. Promener mon chien. Absence de chien. L’attestation était pourtant prête sur la table.
Stephen King: Un alcoolique repenti, confiné, est torturé par le fantôme de son frère jumeau mort à 8 ans qui le pousse à tuer sa femme obèse et fanatique religieuse.
Blaise Pascal: Confiné, l’humain lance une appli de paris en ligne à propos de la date de fin du confinement ou de la date de fin du monde.
Franz Kafka: Un homme confiné s’ennuie, regarde une mouche courir sur son plafond… À la fin, c’est la mouche qui le regarde, courir sur les murs…
Charles Bukowski: Se lève à midi et boit une bière au petit déj avant d’écrire le plus beau poème jamais écrit en se grattant les couilles.
Albert Camus: Le confinement ne fait qu’accentuer l’esprit étroit de l’homme et enferme ses questions dans des bocaux sans réponses.
Alphonse de Lamartine: “Un seul cas de coronavirus et tout est dépeuplé.”
Daniel Pennac: L’adulte confiné retrouve son âme d’enfant et plonge dans des aventures imaginaires.

Moving images
The film-streaming service Mubi has teamed up with Lost in Frenchlation to offer 30 days’ worth of free films (those in French have English subtitles), one per day, among them Céline Sciamma’s Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) (see photo at top of this page). Click here for details (and remember to cancel your subscription if you don’t want to continue it beyond the free 30 days). 

The Institut National Audiovisuel, a treasure trove of French audiovisual history, is offering a free three-month subscription to its new streaming service, MADELEN, with some 13,000 feature films, documentaries, concerts, plays and more. Once the three months are up, a subscription costs only €2.99 per month.

Music
This week, the Opéra de Paris is making its sexy modern-dress production of Bizet’s opera Carmen, directed by Calixto Bieito, available online (through May 3).

Tbe Amazon.
Tbe Amazon.

Other sounds
Before it disappears entirely, immerse yourself in the sounds of the Amazon, recorded by soundscape ecologist and musician Bernie Krause, though the hour-long “Amazon Days/Amazon Nights” recording made available online for free by the Fondation Cartier. 

Wall paintings in the Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc.
Wall paintings in the Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc.

Underground
If cave art is your thing – and how could it not be? – relive the discovery by a group of spelunkers in 1994 of the amazing Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc in the Ardèche by watching the video on the home page. The site also offers a virtual visit to the spacious cave lavishly decorated by our ancestors some 36,000 years ago with stampeding horses, lions and mammoths, as well as the occasional lone bear, rhinoceros, owl, cave bear or human handprint.

In case you missed previous weeks’ “Francophiles’ Guide to Quarantine” (French brain teasers, free films, audiobooks, music, comedy, SOS Help hotline, and more) read them here, here, here, here, here and here.

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