TÊTE-À-TÊTE by Lisa REZNIK​

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre were two of the most brilliant, influential intellectuals of the twentieth century. Their life-long partnership began the year both passed the prestigious philosophy aggregation in Paris, 1929.  

De Beauvoir came second to Sartre's first, following very closely, though the examiners agreed she was strictly the better philospher and at the age of 21 the youngest person ever to have sat the exam. 

Tête-à-Tête explores the period when De Beauvoir, 21, and Sartre, 23, met while preparing for the national philosophy exam.  The story begins as the students discuss the results of the competitive exam then follows the couple’s discussion of individual freedom -- ideas that form the basis of ‘existentialism’.

In the paths of the Luxembourg Garden and cafes on Paris' Left Bank, Simone De Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre begin a conversation that will last 51 years.

We observe their bookshop rendez-vous in which the couple discuss goals they share and a mutual opposition to marriage.  In De Beauvoir’s Parisian flat, the couple share intimate moments and express their commitment to one another.​ 

Simone De Beauvoir became the most famous and emblematic intellectual woman of the twentieth century and is credited with giving us feminism.

 

 

 

 

 

The Existentialist Couple: De Beauvoir and Sartre

De Beauvoir and Sartre worked closely throughout their lives. De Beauvoir edited all of Sartre's works and Sartre read De Beauvoir's works. De Beauvoir's works were often seen as an echo of Sartre's philosophy, perhaps because of her own insistanee on being called 'Sartre's disciple'.  Recently scholars argue it was Beauvoir, and not Sartre, who was the intellectual force behind some of the key existential ideas like 'bad faith' originating in 1943.

Their love affair is well-known for its unconventional complexity.  The couple did not marry, did not live together and did not have children. 

And yet, despite everything she achieved in her life as a writer, philosopher and feminist, De Beauvoir was content to state, "Our relationship was the greatest accomplishment of my lfe."

 

 

 

 

Trail-blazer De Beauvoir became a philosophy student among a majority of young men. She was the youngest and most brilliant philosophy  student in the history of French education for women. She chose literature over philosophy as the field in which she set out to make her mark. De Beauvoir was a prolific writer in a range of genres who will always be associated with her landmark, The Second Sex, (1949) which has frequently been considered the spark that fueled the modern feminist movement of the 1960’s.

"One is not born but becomes a woman" (The Second Sex, p. 267) introduced the sex-gender distinction, challenges the patriarchal status quo and inaugurated the modern feminist movement.

De Beauvoir asks, “How is it that this world has always belonged to the men and that things have begun to change only recently? Is this change a good thing? Will it bring about an equal sharing of the world between men and women?

Today more than ever it’s vital to recognize that freedom can’t be assumed. Some of the freedoms that de Beauvoir fought so hard for in the mid-20th century have since come under threat. 

Jean-Paul Sartre earned the reputation as one of the most important and original philosophers of the 20th century. Although De Beauvoir was probably the sharper and more intelligent of the two, Sartre would acquire greater fame as a philosopher.

 

 

 

Running Time: 15 min
Short film written and directed by Lisa Reznik
Production dates : Jan. 31- Feb. 2 2013

Shot on location in Paris.  

An illuminating portrayal of the intellectual connection between philosophers

Beauvoir and Sartre and their vow of essential love.