Clément, René

   Director and screenwriter. René Clément did not initially plan to pursue film as a career, and instead, began studies in architecture when he finished lycée. Clément began experimenting with film while he was a student. He is known to have made one animated film on his own, although this film is lost. Just before World War II, he began making short films, most of them documentary. Some of these films survive in the form of the documentary L'Arabie interdite (1938), made in collaboration with ethnographer Jules Barthou. These documentaries are about life and water in what is now Yemen. Another surviving documentary short is La Bièvre, fille perdue (1939). He also made one known propaganda film for the Vichy government titled Les Chefs de demain (1943).
   In 1944, Clément received his first major film project. In a reversal of his wartime filmmaking project, he was charged by the French Film Cooperative with directing a film about the participation of French rail workers in the wartime Resistance against the Nazis. That film project, which would become La Bataille du rail (1946), won Clément international acclaim and established him as a talented director of great renown. The film also won the Grand-Prix at the Festival International de Cannes.
   The early part of Clément's career followed down the path of success established by La Bataille du rail. His next film, Le Père tranquil (1946), was also a Resistance-focused piece, although not of the depth of its precursor. In 1947, Clément was invited by Jean Cocteau to work on his film La Belle et la bête (1947), largely because Cocteau had been impressed by Clément's directorial work on La Bataille du rail. Clément's next two films, Au-délà des grilles (1949) and Le Château de verre (1950), were both reasonably successful, both love stories, in a sense, very different from Clément's previous work and different from one another. In Au-délà des grilles, Clément began a relationship with screenwriters Pierre Bost and Jean Aurenche that would serve all three well. The film also won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.
   In 1952, Clément returned to the issue of war in a film that many consider his masterpiece, Jeux interdits, a film about two children whose innocence cultivated in a pastoral paradise is completely shattered by war. Jeux interdits is regarded as a classic film, a visual poem on the horrors of war that never for a moment valorizes war by giving it space on the screen. The film makes the spectator feel the war only through the shadow of its presence and through its aftermath. Jeux interdits was an enormous international and critical success, and it won Clément the Palme d'Or at Cannes, a prize at the Venice Film Festival, and the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.
   Jeux interdits was followed by two literary adaptations, Gervaise (1956), adapted from Émile Zola's classic novel L'Assomoir, and Barrage contre le pacifique (1958), from the novel by Marguerite Duras. Both were also stylistically, thematically, and technically brilliant films, but both are quite different from one another, the first an exploration of social decay in the fin-de-siècle, the second an exploration of women's subjectivity in the colonies.
   Clément's next film would be more different still. Adapted from a Patricia Highsmith novel, Plein soleil (1960) is a psychological thriller that explores the eerie depths of sociopathic behavior. Brilliantly detached in its realization, the film places the mesmerizingly chilling Ripley (played by Alain Delon) at its center, and leaves the spectator without any moral framework through which to interpret either his character or the substance of the narrative itself. It is, like the four preceding films, a brilliant piece of cinema, but it is, as with the others, absolutely unique. And therein lay the problem for Clément.
   In an industry shaped to expect auteurs at precisely the moment when the Nouvelle Vague or New Wave intensified the expectation that filmmakers should have strongly recognizable characteristics to their films, Clément insisted, over and over, on making films that were not only different from everyone else's, but different even from his own. The result was that Clément was never an auteur in the classic sense of the word—he had no predictable or recognizable style or technique that anyone could associate with him. As a result, neither critics nor audiences knew quite what to make of him, and as in all such cases, this began to invite suspicion and, ultimately, scorn. Because his style could not be defined, many, including the New Wave filmmakers, questioned his talent. This may have affected the reception of his later films.
   Clément would go on to make seven films after Plein soleil: Quelle joie de vivre (1961), Les Félins (1964), Paris brûle-t-il? (1966), Le Passager de la pluie (1969), The Deadly Trap (1971), La Course du lièvre à travers le champ (1972), and Jeune fille libre le soir (1976). Of these, the most spectacular in terms of budget and scope was Paris brûle-t-il?, another occupation-era film commissioned and funded by the French government with a script written by Gore Vidal and Francis Ford Coppola and an all-star cast. However, this film, like the six others, was widely criticized, and it, perhaps more than the others, left a permanent mark on Clément's reputation just as he neared the end of his career. It is this taint that has remained, and he and his earlier acclaimed films have been all but forgotten.

Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Clément, René — (1913 1996)    Director and screenwriter. René Clément did not initially plan to pursue film as a career, and instead, began studies in architecture when he finished lycée. Clément began experimenting with film while he was a student. He is known …   Guide to cinema

  • Clément, René — • КЛЕМА Н (Clement) Рене (р. 18.3.1913)    франц. режиссёр. Изучал архитектуру в Школе изящных иск в в Париже. В 1931 снял как любитель серию эксперим. фильмов. Первые проф. работы в кино мультипликации. Был оператором документалистом, снимал… …   Кино: Энциклопедический словарь

  • Clement, Rene — ▪ 1997       French motion picture director who was best known for his disturbing 1952 film, Les Jeux interdits ( Forbidden Games ), which won an Academy Award for best foreign film (b. March 18, 1913 d. March 17, 1996). * * * …   Universalium

  • Clément, René — ► (1913 96) Director cinematográfico francés. Procedente del documental, obtuvo en el festival de Venecia de 1952 el premio al mejor filme por Juegos prohibidos …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Clément, René — (March 18, 1913, Bordeaux, Gi­ronde, France March 17, 1996, Monte Carlo)    After completing his secondary studies, he entered the Beaux Arts, where he attended architecture courses. He directed his first short, a cartoon, at age twenty. Obliged… …   Encyclopedia of French film directors

  • Rene Clement — René Clément Pour les articles homonymes, voir Clément. René Clément Nom de naissance René Jean Clément Naissance 18 mars 1913 Bordeaux, France Nationalité(s) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Clément — Clement oder Clément ist die französische Form des Vornamens Clemens und Familienname folgender Personen: Adolphe Clément (1855–1928), französischer Ingenieur, Erfinder und Industrieller Albéric Clément ( 1165–1191), französischer Marschall… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Rene Clement — René Clément (* 18. März 1913 in Bordeaux; † 17. März 1996 in Monaco) war ein französischer Filmregisseur. René Cléments Werk wird zumeist kontrovers gesehen. Manchmal wird er als „vulgärer“ Techniker ohne Seele bezeichnet, manchmal in den Rang… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • clément — clément, ente [ klemɑ̃, ɑ̃t ] adj. • 1213; lat. clemens 1 ♦ Qui manifeste de la clémence. ⇒ généreux, humain, indulgent, magnanime, miséricordieux. Se montrer clément. 2 ♦ Fig. Un ciel clément. Hiver clément, peu rigoureux. ⇒ doux. ⊗ CONTR.… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • René — (born again, or reborn, in French) is a very common given name in French speaking countries. It comes from the Latin name Renatus. René is normally, originally only a masculine name (Renée being the feminine form). But in non Francophone… …   Wikipedia

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