Worth It

A thirty-year-old actress told me that when she was sad she’d go out into the street to be with people. I’d heard stories like this several times in France already. They sounded like literary fiction to me. So I asked for details. Why did she go out? What could possibly happen to a sad girl in the street? A concrete example. She fly awayremembered an event from six years previously. She was going through some breakdown and went out. She caught sight of the famous French mime artist, Marcel Marceau, in the street. He was now an old man. She walked past, turned to give him another glance. He also turned and suddenly smiled at her. He stood there for a few seconds, smiling, and then walked on. “He saved me then,” the actress said, and here literary fiction ended because she was completely serious and I believed her. We pondered for a while whether Marcel Marceau really lived only to save the young French actress. Maybe everything he’d done, all the performances and emotions which he’d stirred in people through them, were nothing compared to this fact. “Did he know how important he was for you?” I asked. “No,” the actress answered. “I never saw him again.”

At a meeting just outside Paris, a fifteen-year-old girl came up to me and said that she’d been to see Veronique. She’d gone once, twice, three times and only wanted to say one thing really—that she realized that there is such a thing as a soul. She hadn’t known before, but now she knew that the soul does exist. There’s something very beautiful in that. It was worth making Veronique for that girl. It was worth working for a year, sacrificing all that money, energy, time, patience, torturing yourself, killing yourself, taking thousands of decisions, so that one young girl in Paris should realize that there is such a thing as a soul. It’s worth it.

—Krzysztof Kieslowski


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When I Worked

January 2015
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