[The text below is a translation of the poem that accompanies this hallucinated visual lyric, against war and capitalism, by Jeanne-Pierre Thiébaud, one of the workers participating in the Chris. Marker-animated Groupe Medvedkine: “Far from all the luxuries of cinema, a young man has made this film alone in his attic; the film with the lowest budget ever, since it didn’t cost any more than the price of the batteries from the tape recorder (…). He took the slides from the archives of the CCPPO (an arts center in a working-class neighborhood in Besançon, France); the text, from his own pen; the celluloid, strictly calculated, ill-gotten; the music, an infantile misappropriation from a great classical work. (…) Le Traîneau-échelle is still a yell, the open heart of a man who wakes up at night to count the B52s sent to drown a town under a rain of napalm.”]
The Sled-Ladder (1971)
That night, in the woods, the nightingale bled so
That the lover’s hearts carved with the knife trembled
On the trees’ trunks.
If I must die one day,
I would like it to be of love.
I would leave on the sled-ladder
Drawn by the great rooster, rising towards the sun,
Crossing the rainbow along with all the world’s fireworks.
Multicoloured flowers nailed to the night of a journey.
The last, that of the seven reindeer and the little children
Suddenly grown up.
I love all of this lush earth, swathed by so much grass
And so many trees, cut by a thousand furrows,
Criss-crossed by children of great and malicious men,
Like the storm of a heart sold beneath the counter
In the booth of the fifth merchant at the scrap market.
I love this whole earth that turns
Against the memory of time.
Our sled, since you were then with me
That no current of air passed between the ladders’ bars,
Traversed the clouds.
The earth disappeared.
I no longer remember how many years
Passed on this sled.
Time was never spoken of since it did not exist.
The sled-ladder stopped
Before the open door of the lost paradise.
And we descended
Separated, one after the other.
The rooster horse of the great journey was in agony.
And to celebrate this, paradise,
Music out front,
Serious and upright like mathematics.
Time then started to exist.
I lost you there,
The day of the first light,
At the first rifle shot,
At the first tear,
At the first cry,
At the first pain.
The saints had constructed reality,
The rooster horse died.
The open door of the lost paradise shut behind us.
One panel on you, one on me.
And the whole Sunday best horror of this holiday was revealed to me.
And everything started turning,
The sun, the hours, the wheels,
The borne heads that went rolling into the wicker basket.
Everything was structured, everything had a name:
I was called mad and money appeared.
Water could now put out the fire and the fire
Devour the houses.
It was the time of men.
The saints appeared.
We had the 17th parallel and wages of black misery.
Saints commanded men,
And the men listened.
I never saw you again.
Perhaps you left up a mountain,
Where the rivers of the blue weapon are born.
But a day will come,
When free men will rediscover beauty and love.
The will rediscover that they are Men.
And made to live happily.