And here he is in Last Tango in Paris. Proof, if any were needed, that his mastery of film acting was unsurpassed. I assume that this monologue was improvised, as I understand was most of his dialogue in the film.
"From this expedition [in 1609] Champlain learned much regarding the geography of eastern North America, and he brought back with him to France, to present to King Henry IV...a girdle of porcupine quills made from the Canadian porcupine..."
—From Pioneers in Canada by Sir Harry Johnston (1912)
I am irresistibly attracted to the peculiarity of this image of a porcupine girdle. Sorry to disappoint those who imagined that it might be something for pudgy porcupines, but it's not even what we would call a girdle nowadays. What is being described is a sort of belt, made by Hurons, in which porcupine quills were woven decoratively. Still, it would have been an odd item to see in 17th-century France. And I guess what I like most about the idea is its suggestion of something strange and somewhat enigmatic created in Canada and offered to the---pleased, peeved or just plain baffled?---larger world.