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Claude Chabrol
Claude Chabrol Berlinale 2009 Iberty.jpg
Chabrol in 2009
Claude Henri Jean Chabrol

(1930-06-24)24 June 1930
Paris, France
Died 12 September 2010(2010-09-12) (aged 80)
Paris, France
Occupation Director
Years active 1956–2010
Agnès Goute
(m. 1956; div. 1962)
(m. 1964; div. 1980)
Aurore Paquiss
(m. 1983)
Children 4, including Thomas

Claude Henri Jean Chabrol (French: [klod ʃabʁɔl]; 24 June 1930 – 12 September 2010) was a French film director and a member of the French New Wave (nouvelle vague) group of filmmakers who first came to prominence at the end of the 1950s. Like his colleagues and contemporaries Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette, Chabrol was a critic for the influential film magazine Cahiers du cinéma before beginning his career as a film maker.

Early life

Claude Henri Jean Chabrol was born on 24 June 1930 to Yves Chabrol and Madeleine Delarbre in Paris and grew up in Sardent, France, a village in the region of Creuse 400 km (240 miles) south of Paris. Chabrol said that he always thought of himself as a country person, and never as a Parisian. Both Chabrol's father and grandfather had been pharmacists, and Chabrol was expected to follow in the family business. But as a child, Chabrol was "seized by the demon of cinema" and ran a film club in a barn in Sardent between the ages of 12 and 14. It was at this time that he developed his passion for the thriller genre, detective stories and other forms of popular fiction.

After World War II, Chabrol moved to Paris to study pharmacology and literature at the Sorbonne, where he received a licence en lettres. Some biographies also state that he briefly studied law and political science at the École Libre des Sciences Politiques. While living in Paris Chabrol became involved with the postwar cine club culture and frequented Henri Langlois's Cinémathèque Française and the Ciné-Club du Quartier Latin, where he first met Éric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette, Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut and other future Cahiers du Cinéma journalists and French New Wave filmmakers. After graduating, Chabrol served his mandatory military service in the French Medical Corps, serving in Germany and reaching the rank of sergeant. Chabrol has said that while in the army he worked as a film projectionist. After he was discharged from the army, he joined his friends as a staff writer for Cahiers du Cinéma, who were challenging then-contemporary French films and championing the concept of Auteur theory. As a film critic, Chabrol advocated realism both morally and aesthetically, mise-en-scene, and deep focus cinematography, which he wrote "brings the spectator in closer with the image" and encourages "both a more active mental attitude on the part of the spectator and a more positive contribution on his part to the action in progress." He also wrote for Arts magazine during this period. Among Chabrol's most famous articles were "Little Themes", a study of genre films, and "The Evolution of Detective Films".

In 1955 Chabrol was briefly employed as a publicity man at the French offices of 20th Century Fox, but was told that he was "the worst press officer they'd ever seen" and was replaced by Jean-Luc Godard, who they said was even worse. In 1956 he helped finance Jacques Rivette's short film Le coup du berger, and later helped finance Rohmer's short Véronique et son cancre in 1958. Unlike all of his future New Wave contemporaries, Chabrol never made short film nor did he work as an assistant on other directors' work before making his feature film debut. In 1957 Chabrol and Eric Rohmer co-wrote Hitchcock (Paris: Éditions Universitaires, 1957), a study of the films made by director Alfred Hitchcock through the film The Wrong Man. Chabrol had said that Rohmer deserves the majority of the credit for the book, while he mainly worked on the sections pertaining to Hitchcock's early American films, Rebecca, Notorious, and Stage Fright. Chabrol had interviewed Hitchcock with François Truffaut in 1954 on the set of To Catch a Thief, where the two famously walked into a water tank after being starstruck by Hitchcock. Years later, when Chabrol and Truffaut had both become successful directors themselves, Hitchcock told Truffaut that he always thought of them when he saw "ice cubes in a glass of whiskey."

Film career

Chabrol's career began with Le Beau Serge (1958), inspired by Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943). He spent three months shooting in his hometown of Sardent using a small crew and little known actors. The film's budget was $85,000. The film starred Jean-Claude Brialy as François and Gérard Blain as Serge, two childhood friends reunited when the recent medical school graduate François returns to Sardent. Despite suffering from tuberculosis, François drags Serge through a snowstorm to witness the birth of his second child, thus giving Serge a reason to live. Le Beau Serge is considered the inaugural film of the French New Wave Film movement that would peak between 1959 and 1962. Chabrol was the first of his friends to complete a feature film (although Jacques Rivette had already begun filming his first feature Paris nous appartient), and it immediately received critical praise and was a box office success. It won the Grand Prix at the Locarno Film Festival and the Prix Jean Vigo. Chabrol quickly followed this success up with Les Cousins in 1958. Les Cousins was another box office success in France and won the Golden Bear at the 9th Berlin International Film Festival. He then formed his own production company AJYM Productions (acronym based on the initials of his wife's and children's names) and began funding many of the films of his friends.

Thrillers became something of a trademark for Chabrol. The most prolific of the major New Wave directors, he averaged almost one film a year from 1958 until his death. His early films (roughly 1958–1963) are usually categorized as part of the New Wave and generally have the experimental qualities associated with the movement; while his later early films are usually categorized as being intentionally commercial and far less experimental. In the mid-sixties it was difficult for Chabrol to obtain financing for films so he made a series of commercial "potboilers" and spy spoofs, which none of the other New Wave filmmakers did.

In the 1980's and 1990's Chabrol engaged himself with many different projects for both TV and the silver screen. His films Poulet au vinaigre (1985) and Masques (1987) were entered into the 38th Cannes Film Festival and 37th Berlin International Film Festival respectively. Madame Bovary (1991) was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design. It was also entered into the 17th Moscow International Film Festival. La Cérémonie (1995) is perhaps his most acclaimed film from this period, as it was nominated for numerous César Awards and was entered into the 52nd Venice International Film Festival among other. His 1999 film The Color of Lies was entered into the 49th Berlin International Film Festival.

In 1995 Chabrol was awarded the Prix René Clair from the Académie française for his body of work.

Chabrol continued directing films and TV series well into the 2000's.

Personal life

The grave of Claude Chabrol, Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris
The grave of Claude Chabrol, Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

Chabrol's first marriage to Agnès Goute (1956–1962) produced a son, Matthieu Chabrol, a composer who scored most of his father's films from the early 1980s. He divorced Agnès to marry the actress Stéphane Audran, with whom he had a son, actor Thomas Chabrol. They remained married from 1964 to 1978. His third wife was Aurore Paquiss, who has been a script supervisor since the 1950s. He had four children. Chabrol was a known gourmet chef and shot 10 Days Wonder in Alsace only because he wanted to visit its restaurants. Although he acknowledges the influence of Alfred Hitchcock in his work, Chabrol has stated that "others have influenced me more. My three greatest influences were Murnau, the great silent film director...Ernst Lubitsch and Fritz Lang."

Chabrol died on 12 September 2010 of leukemia. He is buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in north-eastern Paris.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Claude Chabrol para niños

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