Hélène Plemiannikov

Born 1937

Hélène Plemiannikov began her career in 1960 as an assistant editor on François Truffaut and Claude de Givray’s The Army Game. She edited Luis Buñuel’s final three films (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, The Phantom of Liberty and That Obscure Object of Desire), and worked with other directors such as Christian Gion (The Surrounded, The Provincal), Nelly Kaplan (Nea aka AYoung Emannuelle), Nagisa Oshima (Max mon Amour), Marcel Ophüls (Matisse ou Le Talent de bonheur), Alain Jessua (Frankenstein 90 and En toute innocence), and Michel Lang (Holiday Hotel, All Stars, and On n’est pas des anges… elles non plus). Her brother was the actor and director Roger Vadim, and the two collaborated together on Spirits of the Dead (“Metzengerstein”), La nouvelle tribu, and Un coup de baguette magique.

(Louisette Hautecoeur, who has her own page on this website, edited three other Buñuel films: Diary of a Chambermaid, Belle de Jour, and The Milky Way.)

“I was always trying to solve his problems. For example, he did not like dubbing; it annoyed him tremendously. On his last film, That Obscure Object of Desire, there were two actresses who embodied/incarnated the same character, and who changed the character’s voice according to her state of mind. For the dubbing, we had a French actress (Carole Bouquet, NdR) and a Spanish one (Angela Molina NdR). But we wanted to find an actress who could dub both characters in both languages with, each time, a small change in her voice. So Buñuel said to me, “I do not have the patience Hélène; I’m going to let you do all that.”
In doing that, I learned a lot. I found a girl (Florence Giorgetti, NdR) who had never done dubbing work, but had worked in the theater. I did not want professional dubbing actresses, so I kept on battling with the sync person about it. I didn’t show anything—neither to Buñuel nor to the actresses! I was alone when we did the dubbing work with the two girls. Moreover, they never realized that it was a single actress who dubbed two characters. This girl was wonderful! She was very spontaneous. It was an amazing learning experience!”
“Luis Buñuel était généreux, mais pas avec tout le monde…” by Iris Mazzacurati in L’Express. The full text can be found in the Appendix.