Sunday, 12 September 2010

Claude Chabrol : A personal appreciation.

The death of Claude Chabrol has robbed the French Cinema and the world of one of its masters. Chabrol started is career as a film critic, one of the group which included his friends Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard who gathered around the influential film journal Cahiers du Cinema. Along with Truffaut, Godard and others he moved on to become a film director and a leading light in the Nouvelle Vague movement that revolutionised French cinema and widely influenced the whole world of film making. Unlike Godard, but like Truffaut, Chabrol was a heart a traditional film-maker and his best films for me are those where he displays his love of classic films, particularly Alfred Hitchcock. But Chabrol was not a slavish imitator like Brian DePalma, his best films shared certain preoccupations with the master. His career embraced everything from literary classics like MADAME BOVARY to Euro-spy films like MARIE CHANTAL CONTRE DR.KHA and his two "TIGER" films - often made as commercial assignments when he neeed to raise money for more personal projects. He made DR. M which was a modern day Dr.Mabuse adventure and on television he even tackled FANTOMAS and Edgar Allan Poe. My favourites among his movies are LE SCANDALE, LA FEMME INFIDELE, THE BEAST MUST DIE, LE BOUCHER, JUSTE AVANTE LA NUIT, LES BICHES, TEN DAYS WONDER, THE HATTER'S GHOST and REINE NE VA PLUS. A favourite moment ? It has to be that heart rending look that passes between Stephane Audran and Michel Bouquet at the very end of LA FEMME INFIDELE - full of emotion but typically Chabrol achieves the effect by having the faces of his actors immobile and blank. Of Chabrol himself - his wonderful, very French, face domininated by his eyes so full of humour (and magnified by his glasses) indicate somebody who enjoyed life as much as he loved cinema. He was married to the beaufiful Stephane Audran who starred in many of his best films. R.I.P.

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