Sunday, September 12, 2010

Claude Chabrol - R.I.P.

Renowned French filmmaker Claude Chabrol passed away today, at the age of 80. Beginning his career as a film critic alongside contemporaries Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer and François Truffaut with the influential French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma, Chabrol helped to usher in the French New Wave with his self-financed debut feature Le beau Serge in 1959.

He followed this up with a series of arthouse films including Les Cousins (1959), Les Bonnes Femmes (1960) and Les Godelureaux (1961) before shifting to more commercial material in the mid-60s such as the spy thrillers Le Tigre aime la chair fraiche (1964) and Le tigre se parfume à la dynamite (1965).

Heavily influenced by acclaimed British director Alfred Hitchcock (he had co-authored the 1957 study Hitchcock alongside Eric Rohmer), Chabrol began to develop his signature "Chabrol-esque" style in a series of Hitchcock-inspired suspense thrillers and critically acclaimed dramas including Le Scandale (1967), Les Biches (1968), La Femme infidel (1969) and Le Boucher (1970).

The Chabrol style is something I admired deeply as I loved his films Betty (1992), the troubling L’Enfer (1994), The Flower of Evil (2003) and, most particularly, a sterling adaptation of one of my favorite Patricia Highsmith thrillers, Le cri du hibou/The Cry of the Owl (1987). The troubling undercurrent of emotional connections and disconnections made any Chabrol film a compelling if not always satisfying experience.

He directed some of the world’s finest actors and even filmed some of his work in English with such well-known American actors as Orson Welles, Anthony Perkins, Jodie Forster and Jennifer Beals. He was honored with a Life Achievement Award at the 2003 European Film Awards and continued to enjoy a prolific career spanning half a century, with his final film Bellamy released in 2009.


Alain70 said...

Hello Doug,

Vous auriez pu citer aussi le film: "la cérémonie" (1995) adapté du roman homonyme de Ruth Rendell.
C'est son fils: Matthieu Chabrol qui composait la musique de ses films depuis quelques années.


Douglas Payne said...

Duly noted, Alain. Thank you. "La cérémonie" is another Chabrol beauty and I was remiss to neglect acknowledging son Matthieu's magnificent musical contributions to his father's films.

Anonymous said...

Can't blieve you've overlooked the excellent soundtracks and musical works by Pierre Jansen, who was to Chabrol what Hermann was to Hitch...

Good blog Douglas.