Duvivier, Julien

   Director. Julien Duvivier was born in Lille, in northern France. He had a great love of the theater and had ambitions of becoming an actor. Indeed, he began his career as an actor at the Odéon in Paris under the direction of the great André Antoine. It would later be said that this early period influenced him greatly and that he learned from Antoine to strive for perfection and to aspire to an art that mirrored reality. It was Antoine himself who encouraged Duvivier to leave the theater to go into cinema. Remembered as one of the master technicians among the practitioners of Le Réalisme poétique or poetic realism, it would seem that although Duvivier left the theater, he kept some of what he learned there. Duvivier began his career in cinema during the silent-film era. Antoine had been hired by Pathé to direct films for the Société Cinématographique des Auteurs et des Gens de Lettres (SCAGL), Pathé's film d'art division, and Duvivier came along to work as his assistant. His first experience in film was on Les Travailleurs de la mer (1918), an adaptation of a work by Victor Hugo. Duvivier also assisted Antoine on La Terre (1921), adapted from the Émile Zola novel. Duvivier would work also with Albert Capellani at Pathé, and he assisted on such films as Quatre-vingt-treize (1921), the classic silent-film adaptation of the Hugo novel. He also worked for Louis Feuillade, at the time the head of production at Gaumont, with Henri Étiévant, with Dominique Bernard-Deschamps, and with Marcel L'Herbier.
   This early period in the cinema must have been as important in forming Duvivier as his time in the theater. Capellani, Etiévant, and L'Herbier were masterful directors. Feuillade was himself a master technician and a hyperperfectionist. Most important, his films are seen as important forerunners of poetic realism. It would be naïve to overlook the influence the great director must have had on the young director, just starting out.
   Duvivier, for his part, tried his hand at solo filmmaking quite early. His first film, Haceldama ou le prix du sang, was made in 1919. From 1922 on, Duvivier was working almost exclusively alone, often writing the screenplays for his films as well, something he would do throughout his career. His early films include Les Roquevillard (1922), based on the novel by Henry Bordeaux, and the sequel, L 'Ouragon sur la montagne (1923), Credo ou la tragédie à Lourdes (1924), La Machine à refaire la vie (1924), and the melodramatic religious films, L'Agonie de Jerusalem (1927) and La Divine Croisière (1929).
   The coming of sound to cinema moved Duvivier into another dimension of filmmaking, and some would say that the early decades of sound cinema, particularly the 1930s, were the best years of Duvivier's career. At that time, he was counted among the best directors making films and was often identified with other major realist and poetic realist filmmakers of the day, including Jean Renoir, Marcel Carné, René Clair, and Jacques Feyder (together considered the great five directors of the golden age of French cinema).
   Duvivier set the pace for his filmmaking in the 1930s with David Golder (1931), the film in which he introduced Harry Baur to sound cinema. The film restarted Baur's film career, making of him a major film star of the day, and was the first in a fairly long series of solidly realist, somber, almost noir films that would dominate Duvivier's career for more than a decade. Shortly after David Golder, Duvivier made Allô Berlin, Ici Paris (1931), a film that captures quite clearly much of the spirit of the prewar era. This film, the story of two telephone operators, one in Berlin, one in Paris, who can speak to and understand one another but who are prevented by circumstances from meeting, seems, in retrospect, a proleptic comment on the failure of those who might have prevented war to come to power.
   In 1932, Duvivier made La Tête d'un homme, again starring Harry Baur, a very dark Maigret mystery about a man who frames a mentally challenged man for a crime he, himself, committed. In this film, there was a glimpse into the darker side of Duvivier's realism, a side that would show itself more and more frequently over time. This film was followed by Poil de Carotte (1932), a sound remake of a 1925 Duvivier silent film about reconciliation between an emotionally abusive father and his son. Poil de Carotte is considered among the best films Duvivier ever made.
   Duvivier's 1934 historical film Maria Chapdelaine marked the first time the director worked with legendary actor Jean Gabin. The collaboration was a fruitful one, and the two would go on to do a number of films together. Gabin would star in the passion film Golgotha (1935), the war film La Bandera (1935), the classic film La Belle équipe (1936) — often read as a commentary on the Front populaire, with which Gabin was identified through his work with Jean Renoir—the classic noir film Pépé le Moko (1937), and the darkly realist Voici le temps des assassins (1956).
   Apart from his work with Gabin, Duvivier directed a number of other classic films, particularly in the 1930s. The costume drama Golem (1935), starring Harry Baur, remains a solid, well-crafted example of Duvivier's work. The sentimental drama Un Carnet de bal (1937) is also among the best films Duvivier ever made, and it inspired many similar films. La Fin du jour (1939), starring Pierre Jouvet and Michel Simon, about retired actors in a nursing home, is also one of Duvivier's better films. His talent for casting great actors to perfection clearly shows in this particular film.
   Following the success of his films in France, particularly Pépé le Moko, Duvivier was called to work in Hollywood. He did several films in English, particularly during the 1940s, but also continued to work in France. His English-language films include Lydia (1941), starring Merle Oberon; Tales of Manhattan (1942), with an all-star cast including Charles Boyer, Rita Hayworth, Henry Fonda, and Edward G. Robinson; The Imposter (1944), starring Gabin in an English-speaking role; and Anna Karenina (1948), starring Vivien Leigh. Duvivier's French films from the same period include Untel père et fils (1943), starring Raïmu and Michèle Morgan, and Panique (1946), starring Simon and Viviane Romance.
   After the war, Duvivier concentrated the majority of his efforts on filmmaking in France. He had a hit with Le Petit monde de Don Camillo (1951), starring Fernandel, and more particularly with the sequel, Le Retour de Don Camillo (1953). In that respect, Duvivier was able to restart his career after the war, whereas many filmmakers seemed at a loss to do so. Other important films from this later period include Voici le temps des assassins (1956), starring Gabin and Danièle Delorme, and Le Diable et le dix commandements (1962), starring Fernandel. Duvivier might have gone right on making films, but he was killed in a car crash in 1967.
   Often criticized during his lifetime for making "popular" films, Duvivier has proven to be one of the more enduring of the so-called great five filmmakers of the 1930s and 1940s. The standing of his work has not been diminished by the critiques of the filmmakers of the Nouvelle Vague or New Wave, nor has the appreciation of them been changed by the innovations those filmmakers introduced. The great Renoir once said that if he built a monument to cinema, he would place Duvivier's statue above the front door. Perhaps Duvivier's films have taken just such a place in the monument that is film history.

Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. . 2007.

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  • Duvivier, Julien — (1896 1967)    Director. Julien Duvivier was born in Lille, in northern France. He had a great love of the theater and had ambitions of becoming an actor. Indeed, he began his career as an actor at the Odéon in Paris under the direction of the… …   Guide to cinema

  • Duvivier, Julien — ▪ French director born October 8, 1896, Lille, France died October 29, 1967, Paris       motion picture director who emerged as one of the “Big Five” of the French cinema in the 1930s. Duvivier s use of “poetic realism,” which characterized the… …   Universalium

  • Duvivier, Julien — • ДЮВИВЬЕ (Duvivier) Жюльен (8.10.1896 29.10.1967)    франц. режиссер. Был актёром т ра. В 1919 пост, первый ф. Гасельдама . В 20 е гг. большим успехом пользовался его ф. Рыжик (но Ж. Ренару, 1925; снят им в 1932 повторно в звук, варианте и с др …   Кино: Энциклопедический словарь

  • Duvivier, Julien — ► (1896 1967) Director cinematográfico francés. Películas: Pelirrojo (1932) y Pépé le Mokò (1937), entre otras …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Duvivier, Julien — (October 3, 1896, Lille, Nord, France October 30, 1967, Paris, France)    Educated at a Jesuit school, he briefly studied at Lille University before opting for an acting career. He moved to Paris, where he was an assistant to André Antoine and… …   Encyclopedia of French film directors

  • Duvivier — Duvivier, Julien …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Duvivier — (Julien) (1896 1967) cinéaste français: la Bandera (1935), Pépé le Moko (1936) …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Julien Duvivier — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Duvivier. Julien Duvivier Données clés Naissance 8 octobre 1896 Lille, France Nationalité …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Julien Duvivier — (* 3. Oktober 1896 in Lille; † 30. Oktober 1967 in Paris) war ein französischer Autor und Regisseur. Duvivier begann am Theater als Schauspieler und Regisseur, stieß als Autor zum Film, schrieb und inszenierte Stummfilme und wurde in den… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Julien Duvivier — (8 October 1896 in Lille 30 October 1967 in Paris) was a French film director.In the 1930s, he was part of the production company Film d Art with Marcel Vandal and Charles Delac.He created a world of dark images born of a strange imagination.… …   Wikipedia

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