Copyright ©2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

LIANE HANSEN, host:

There is word today of the passing of another Legion of Honor recipient. Marcel Marceau has died at the age of 84.

There was almost no idea the famed mime couldn't communicate, no emotion he couldn't express on stage without words. He could walk against the wind. He could fight a bull, and he could depict youth, maturity and old age in the course of a few minutes. But there was one thing Marceau found difficult to do on stage. He found it hard to lie.

Mr. MARCEL MARCEAU (Mime): When you talk, you can lie. And when you play with your body and your soul, you have to bend the truth immediately and you have to take the essence of life. And this is why I compare it to music, which explains nothing and touches the soul of the people through sound. And I do it with silence.

HANSEN: That, too, is difficult - silence - because as Marceau pointed out, nothing is silent.

Mr. MARCEAU: A fish is not silent. Nature is not silent. You have the wind. You have the birds sing beautifully and silence doesn't exist. But to create silence is very difficult because you have to create a musical sound, which is silent and you receive it because you brace the sound of silence.

HANSEN: Marceau was Jewish. His family fled their home when France joined the Second World War. His life as a performer began after Paris was liberated. Marceau's inspiration was Charlie Chaplin. But Marceau was an artist of the stage. He didn't need sets, scores, or other stars to make his magic, and he needed no one to explain to him his role.

Mr. MARCEAU: I am a witness, a historian of my time. But I do it not in writing like the writers do in papers or books. I do it with my body like musicians do it with their sound. I show the visible with a magic face that means solely imagination.

HANSEN: Marcel Marceau. His death was announced today. He was 84.

(Soundbite of music)

HANSEN: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.