Address by Frédéric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture and Communication, on the occasion of the ceremony for the award of officers in the order of the Legion of Honour to Bulle Ogier, officierdans the Order of Arts and Letters to Nicoletta and Claude Vega, Dear friends,Dear Bulle OGIER,Dear NICOLETTA,Dear Maria SCHNEIDER,Dear Claude VEGA,

Since I have been on Rue de Valois for almost a year to the day,
given several times the opportunity to pay tribute to a small bouquet of talents
chosen from the world of arts and culture. Well,
today, for the first time, I am a little troubled. Not only by the talent
outstanding personalities that I will have the pleasure and honour of rewarding with a
Republican decoration, but also for another reason. I don’t know
exactly how many people I have to honour today.... I know
that there are at least three remarkable women, and then also a cohort of women
and countless men, an incalculable number of faces and voices,
hide behind a single person, the thousand and one avatars of "VEGA," which is
maybe, if I understood correctly, some kind of Hindu god capable of
metamorphose to infinity… Let’s start with the simplest: these three
women who also represent profound and multiple facets of femininity.
I hope to find a solution by then so I don’t have to pay tribute to
each of the incarnations of the god VEGA, and thus avoid drawing you into a
long trip at the end of the night, when I imagine you all want to enjoy
of the Film Festival…
Dear Bulle OGIER,
«I celebrate the grey mixed voice
Who hesitates in the distance of the song that has been lost…”
If I chose to begin with these verses so evocative of the great poet Yves
BONNEFOY, it’s because there’s something in you, in my opinion, about
You are both bright and, at the same time, you use your light to
enlighten the depths of the human soul, that you alone have the talent and audacity of
show us in the mirror of your sensitivity and grace.
You are also paradoxical because you are both an ideal presence of
beauty and charm, and that at the same time you know how to show yourself close to
each one. You know how to abolish the timidity that beauty often causes by arousing
among the spectators a natural connivance that makes you a kind of sister
mischievous and warm, though always elusive.
When I say “sister”, I’m not just referring, of course, to that figure.
strange and unforgettable sister of Delphine SEYRIG who comes to disturb the lines
of the bourgeois universe wonderfully satirized by BUNUEL… I want to express
this familiar presence that each of your appearances carries in her, in the cinema
as in the theatre. I think, for example, of this tasty «Salamander»,
with its modern and quirky cinderella appearance, a role that has revealed to you in
the full extent of your possibilities. I am also thinking of the hysterical diva of My case – we will find, I
believe, at Claude VÉGA, other hysterical divas earlier –, I
think of the claustrophobic backpacker of the Pont du Nord, of so many roles
to whom you have conferred the mysteries of your “obscure clarity”.
In fact, that may have been the case, the “New Wave”, illuminating the “share”
of everyone, instead of playing the game of a cinema saturated with
raw lights that crush humanity under the production of great
interchangeable myths. And deep down, you were the real face of
this «New Wave» embodied in particular by RIVETTE, who
often trusted not only under the eye of his camera, but also
for the writing of his films. True muse, because remained discreet, did not
giving in to a new form of system, and always on the lookout for
discoveries of the human soul made possible by this auteur cinema
you are, like me and like so many others here, viscerally
tied up.
The same requirement of humanity and depth binds you to the fires of
the ramp, where many invisible things are seen, in particular
at Marguerite DURAS, whom you served faithfully, especially
in Savannah Bay alongside the great Madeleine RENAUD. You
have served the greatest authors, the SCHNITZLER and the Botho
STRAUSS, but also, of course, the greatest directors, Luc
BONDY or Claude REGY who spoke of you as a
transparency with a very strong center of gravity». RIVETTE did not
not deceived either, who made you, in the Band of Four, a
truly masterful theatre teacher.
You continue to instill in today’s cinema this charm
discrete» of your New Wave. I think of this memorable role in
Venus beauty (institute) where you play with a sovereign irony and
subtle what I would call cosmetic pedantry.
You have made the choice to favour creation, even if it means denouncing, as soon as
your debut with MARC'O, «The Idols» of show-biz, thus putting
focus on magical encounters, in more than eighty films,
with the greatest poets of European seventh art: I think, besides
entrusted his first opus, to Jacques AUDIARD, but also to Werner
SCHROETER recently disappeared unfortunately, in FASSBINDER, in BUÑUEL that
to Raoul RUIZ or Manoel de OLIVEIRA, without forgetting
of course the man who accompanies you to life as to the stage, Barbet
It’s for all these gifts you’re giving us, because you’re
a diaphanous but luminous artist, both anti-star and star, who
always enriched our image of the woman, that I have the very great honor,
Bulle OGIER, on behalf of the President of the Republic and under the
powers vested in me, to make you an officer in the order of
Legion of Honour.
I now turn to the only white woman who sings with a voice
of Black», to that «warm and round voice» that the great Ray evoked
CHARLES, and of which everyone knows and keeps in the depths of himself,
beautiful inflections and unforgettable melodies.

There is also a paradox in your talent – because talent is always
paradox, he always knows how to reconcile and unite what, to the naked eye of the layman,
would appear contradictory or remote.
This paradox, I believe, is to unite the deepest of human cries and a
the most real, tangible presence on stage. It is, in a sense, about
bring together the sensitive powers of the body and the distant mysteries of
the soul.
All those who elected you, acclaimed you, the public of course, countless
in France and the world, but also the greatest artists who
have adopted and softened with passion, all those whom you have called,
I believe, your “guardian angels”, from Jacques BREL to Léo FERRÉ, in
through Gilbert BÉCAUD and Johnny HALLYDAY – all were
sensitive to this amazing, almost explosive compound, between this
fleshly presence and this profound force of emotions.
«Fanal dans la nuit», you «sing with your body», said Jean-
Claude BRIALY, and at the same time this broken voice crashes into the
heart," he said, "of those who believe in love." Charles AZNAVOUR
find the same terms, in any case the same themes,
in a beautiful poem dedicated to you: She has the voice of words
from the heart, from the anguish of the body, the voice of the vehemence of happiness”,
and he adds: «she is the realism of her generation».
This last expression of AZNAVOUR seems to me to define perfectly
your contribution. With you, the singer is truly incarnated. She
is imposed on us by the power of a voice that comes inseparably
body and soul, and the haunting success of Mammy Blue (over 150
versions! ) is the illustration par excellence.
Your appearance was all the more dazzling as you were able to give
body to our deep emotions in a still cautious time,
sometimes shy, not to say faint. And you have one of the great
voice of this young baby boom eager for new emotions, both
faithful to the great tradition of French song and open to the wind of
that was blowing across the Atlantic. You explored the
still unknown territories of jazz, blues, gospel, and invented a
French emotion that rediscovers what African-American music, still
a little marginal then, may have stronger and more intense. You
to the aspirations of a whole generation that was liberating and
who felt that great emotions could no longer be disembodied.
But you touch all generations – I’m thinking of the
recent and significant release of «La Musique» by the heroes of the
first «Star-Ac». You have found the way to the heart of
hundreds of thousands, I say millions of people, because you carry
a universal message, and you have been able to give nobility to
popular music from here and elsewhere, as you did again in
Since then, Brazilian music has been in constant vogue with
«Fio Maravilla» in the 1970s.
Your career is the image of your life, this ride that will not stop
You celebrated them last year at the Alhambra, the
forty years, forty years of passion, success and encounters
with the public. No, “he is not dead, the sun”!
In forty years, from the BARCLAY era to your emancipation as
producer, from your albums to your tours
Epiphanic interpretations such as the Glory Alleluia – broadcast for the
first time in 1976 on the radio, during the Midnight Mass, you have
established not only a deep and lasting exchange with everyone, but also
“Connivences” and, more than that, real communions. Such
is the spirit of gospel, but also of opera. After performing
Esméralda in Quasimodo, the famous musical composed by
your friend William SHELLER, you have had it in your heart to serve the best of
musical theatre of BRECHT and Kurt WEILL, playing the leading role of
Greatness and decadence of the city of Mahagony.
If you bring together the sacred and the profane, it is probably by virtue of a
immense generosity, which finds its high point – or its keystone –
in your commitment. I remember for example the gala given
against the death penalty at the Palais des Sports, with FERRÉ, BRASSENS,
NOUGARO and others, a few years before a certain President of
the Republic does not abolish it... I am also thinking of your active participation
in the concerts for the association «Les Voix de l'espoir»:
you literally “give voice” to help the children of
Third World.
Well, it’s for the generosity inherent in your talent, which we
accompanies every day for a little more than forty years, that I have
the immense pleasure, dear NICOLETTA, on behalf of the French Republic,
to make you an Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters.
You too embody a facet of the modern woman and her
freedom. You are a daring actress, capable of playing all roles,
including his own: this is how we believe to discover you as
you are, or rather such as cinema makes you be in the setting
subtle abyss that Bertrand BLIER realized just ten years ago, in
Les Acteurs, where you meet many other «stars» of the
seventh art in France.
However, it is above all thanks to international productions that
you have appeared in the cinematic landscape and in the heart of
each one. At just twenty years old, the Last Tango in Paris was for you the
first waltz in this brilliant world, perhaps too brilliant, made of
mysteries and appearances. Alongside the great Marlon BRANDO, you
have “dared” to transgress the customs of the time, and this has
won an Oscar nomination, at the same time as all the
and all the successes that still attach themselves to the scandal and to this advance
that art and artists so often know how to take on the public of their
Exponential artist, you rub shoulders with the greatest legends of cinema,
directors like BERTOLUCCI, or ANTONIONI in
Profession: reporter, but also, like Bulle OGIER, RIVETTE,
GARREL, SCHROETER or FASSBINDER. You share the poster with
Jack NICHOLSON and so many other giants.
In all, no less than fifty films, in barely forty years.
It is this remarkable durability that has earned you the honour, in
2001 in Créteil, at the International Women’s Film Festival. Many
are your appearances, both in cinema and on television, which have marked the
and reached a wide audience, as in Les Nuits fauves, in 1992,
whose success has been truly extraordinary.
Always free, you did not hesitate to refuse proposals when
they put you in the “Lolita” category, or when you
did not feel comfortable with authors, however prestigious they may be,
such as Luis BUÑUEL or Joseph LOSEY. This is how you knew that
the interests of the career to draw an authentic
artist personality.
Always daring, you have embodied roles marked by a
radiant spontaneity, explosive vitality as in The Last
Tango that I mentioned, or in the role of this prostitute of La Dérobade,
of Daniel DUVAL.
You too have been, like every artist I have the pleasure
to honor today, a singular icon of today’s woman.
Your presence, your scratchy, sensual voice, which seems to express
marvel the powers of revolt, have made you a model
for more than a generation. This is also, I believe, the
sense of cinema, to put before our eyes the images of our possibilities,
to reach out to help us become ourselves. And you
more than any other, you have been able to embody one of these living and tangible relays
of our freedom, and especially that of women, at a time
exploration and conquest.
To this most imperfect sketch of your personality, I would add indeed,
to finish, commitment: not only because you give body,
on the screens, to the Rebellious Woman, as I suggested there are
a few moments, but also because you are in solidarity with your
as evidenced by your investment in the association La
Wheel Wheel» created a little more than half a century ago, in 1957, in
for the former artists whom fortune has overshadowed... That’s besides,
you know, a cause that is particularly dear to me and to which I have
wished to offer my full support by participating in the Union of
Artists held recently in Paris at the Cirque d'Hiver.
For your whole journey and for your battles, for your
charm and the emotions you arouse in the heart of each
spectators, I have the great pleasure, dear Maria SCHNEIDER, on behalf of
the French Republic, to make you a Knight in the Order of Arts and
des Lettres.
I now turn to the riddle of the day, the man of a thousand and one
face, the one that risks adding myriad people to distinguish,
the first of the chameleons, my dear friend Claude VÉGA…
What strikes me first, and which we usually notice less, is no
only your ability to transform, but also, between each
your incarnations, this absent or even absurd air of absolute clown, which seems
fully absorbed in the observation of our fellow men and women
then a perfect restitution and recreation.
Those eyes both laughing and as waiting and suspended as you
present to the public, are like a mirror of all personalities
and that you, too, will be able to make your own, through
magic of a rare talent. You are thus, in the interval of mimicry,
in a joyful expectation of the trance and the transformation. This
withdrawal character, which is like a continuous bass of your
incarnations between which he makes the link and the binding, carries something
of the Elizabethan tradition, Shakespearean, sublime jesters. From
those who make laughter not simple mockery, but another
dimension, a look at the world, with all the tenderness that can
go with him.
Because you are not a “copycat” in the sense that you would be content
to reproduce tics and mimics, nor a satirist in the sense that you
would like to scratch your “prey”. You act more like a mirror,
transforming more than distorting, and which raises and reveals the
features and gives us to see them without animosity. You
extend the imprescriptible rights of laughter and comedy
to the greatest, always refusing to belittle them with sarcasm. And
your “models” – as they are not “targets” – you are grateful.
No one can forget the laughter of CALLAS watching you
playing the lost divas and the Madwomen and listening to you
vocalize madly. In a sense, you reconcile artists with this
shadow of ridicule that does not kill, but that you know how to make more
harmless yet, almost until sweetness and homage. In a
other register, I remember the smile of Jacques DUTRONC in front of
your hopping, hilarious “Dad Wakes Up” performance.
After your legendary impressions, we understood better, and perhaps
loved even more, BARBARA, Juliette GRECO, Nana
so many others that fortunately I do not have to decorate today since it
all I need to access these legions of great talents is to have you in
in front of me.
You have paved the way by showing that the right parody requires the
respect for the model, because as you yourself say, we do not
may well parody those we love».
For in you, imitation does not have the pretension or the violence of
usurping her models. She finds herself, like
you on stage, at their side, looking and mirroring, to lighten
certain traits, rather than to emphasize them.
Father of imitators, your mischievous virtuosity has become a school, and you can
You have also multiplied on the stages, dear Claude
VÉGA: cabaret, theatre, cinema, book and CD of imitations published two years ago
years, television sets of course… – I remember everything
especially your flashes in Midnight Permission that
I was animating then.
Boards of Liberty’s where you conferred to the animals of the Fables of
LA FONTAINE the voices of famous actors, up to the two characters
antinomics that you knew how to play in Funny to taste after
Boris VIAN (in turn: a Chinese general and a bitter mother), in
through CARPENTIER Number 1, you have delighted the
public through this benevolent presence, and properly “inimitable”…
In the 1960s, your appearances in
cinema: I’m thinking in particular of Paris-Music-Hall, or Domicile
conjugal, alongside your friend and friend François TRUFFAUT.
At the same time, you accompany great stars in concert, such as
that TRENET, PIAF, Josephine BAKER, and many other accomplices and
fellow travellers…
It is for this whole course of a generous and pioneering PROTÉE, that I have
the immense pleasure, dear Claude VÉGA, on behalf of the French Republic,
to make you an Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters.