Chabrol, Claude

(1930- )
   Actor, director, film critic, producer, and screenwriter. Claude Chabrol spent much of his youth during World War II in Sardent, a village that provided the setting of some of his films. He later met fellow New Wave directors in ciné-clubs and wrote for Cahiers du cinéma. His film Le beau Serge (1958) was the first feature of the Cahiers Group and won the Prix Jean-Vigo. It was followed by Les Cousins (1959), which was awarded the Golden Berlin Bear. Chabrol's first two features are frequently considered to be the very first films of the Nouvelle Vague or New Wave, although some critics cite François Truffaut's Les 400 coups (1959) as the first, with Agnès Varda's La Pointe Courte being a pivotal precurser.
   Chabrol's subsequent films, A Double Tour (1959), Les bonnes femmes (1959), Les Godelureaux (1960), L'Oeil du malin (1960), and Ophélia (1962), did not achieve the same level of acclaim. Landru (1962), which is regarded as his last New Wave film, was a success, and has curiously also been viewed by some critics as Chabrol's entrance into commercial cinema. Others point to his 1964 Le Tigre aime la chair fraîche as his debut into profit-oriented mainstream films.
   Chabrol went on to make several commercial films, though his direction of art films did not cease. Indeed, critics have observed that Chabrol managed to blur the boundaries between artistic and popular cinema. After a period of salaried directing, which elite critics viewed negatively, Chabrol released his 1968 film Les biches, which focuses on a sensual relationship between two women and stars his former wife, Stéphane Audran. It received wide critical acclaim. Increasingly, Chabrol became known as an incisive critic of the French bourgeoisie and a master of the thriller, especially in Le Boucher (1970).
   Chabrol tends to collaborate with a particular group of people when making films, among them cinematographer Jean Rabier, scenarist Paul Gégauff, composers Pierre Jansen and Matthieu Chabrol, producers André Génovès and Marin Karmitz, and actors Audran, Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Claude Brialy, Bernadette Lafont, Michel Bouquet, and Jean Yanne. Audran was the key figure in what has been called Chabrol's Hélène cycle, a series of films that include La femme infidèle (1968), Que la bête meure (1969), Le Boucher (1970), La Rupture (1970), and Juste avant la nuit (1971). The film Violete Nozière (1978) marked the transition from Audran to Huppert as Chabrol's leading actress, though Audran is featured in his latter films. Violette Nozière, which is based on a nonfictional case of a woman who poisoned her parents, is a prominent example of Chabrol's interest in the stories of female criminals.
   In the 1980s and beyond, Chabrol received a fair degree of critical acclaim. His Une affaire des femmes (1988), based on the story of the last woman to receive the guillotine in France, was unconventional in its representation of women during the German occupation. It starred Huppert and was nominated for a César for Best Director in 1989. Chabrol contributed to the heritage genre with Madame Bovary (1991), a film based on Gustave Flaubert's classic novel. La Cérémonie — arguably Chabrol's most critically acclaimed film—was nominated for a César for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay in 1996, and Huppert won Best Actress for her performance. In 1997, Chabrol made his fiftieth film, Rien ne va plus. Afterwards, a special edition of Cahiers du cinéma was dedicated to Chabrol, an act that his fans considered long overdue.
   Although Chabrol's work was initially considered uneven by several French critics, he has emerged as one of France's most prolific and respected directors. He continues to direct highly regarded films: Merci pour le chocolat won the Prix Louis-Delluc in 2000 and La fleur du mal (2003) was nominated for a Golden Berlin Bear. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the European Film Awards in 2003.
   In addition to directing, Chabrol has produced films through his production company, AJYM, which was financed with an inheritance from his wife's grandmother. With AJYM he produced his own early films, as well as those of other New Wave directors. For example, he produced Éric Rohmerl's Le signe du lion (1959) as well as Jacques Rivette's Le Coup du berger (1956) and Paris nous appartient (1961).

Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Chabrol, Claude — born June 24, 1930, Paris, France French film director, screenwriter, and producer. After working in public relations in 20th Century Fox s Paris office, he directed The Cousins (1959), one of the first films of the New Wave movement. Among his… …   Universalium

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