One of the beacons of the French New Wave, Claude Chabrol, has died at 80, according to media reports, including news from The Associated Press. Christoph Girard, who handles cultural affairs for the Paris City Hall, announced Chabrol’s passing on his blog and the cause of death was not immediately clear. Chabrol was 80.
Calling Chabrol, “murderously genteel,” in his profile of the director in GreenCine, Michael Fox cited a frequent comparison with Alfred Hitchcock among a litany of his admirers. “‘France’s master of suspense’ is forever stuck to his lapel…The most obvious and superficial connection between Chabrol and Hitchcock is that, sooner or later, a corpse is almost certain to show up in both men’s films.”
Chabrol returned to Paris following World War II where he became acquainted with fellow French New Wavers, Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette and others. The group established the cinema publication, Cahiers du cinéma through the 1950s. In 1958, Chabrol made his first feature, “Le Beau Serge,” a Hitchcockian drama starring Jean-Claude Brialy, considered one of the early films of the French New Wave. The film, funded by his wife, gained him critical success and was followed by the commercially successful “Les Cousins” the following year. Among his other films were “Les Biches” (Bad Girls, 1968), “Le boucher” (The Butcher, 1970), “Ten Days Wonder” with Anthony Perkins (1971) and “High Heels” (1972) with Mia Farrow. He made nearly a movie every year throughout the ’80s and ’90s and into the 2000s, including last year’s “Bellamy” with Gérard Depardieu.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, traveling in the western Dordogne region Sunday, compared Chabrol to two giants of French letters, Rabelais and Balzac, according to the NY Times. The country’s Prime Minister Francois Fillon said he was a “great director, producer and screenwriter (who) was one of the grand figures of the ‘Nouvelle vague,’ which revolutionized the style and techniques of cinema by looking at real experience, true life, that which is indiscreet and subtle.”
Born in June, 1930, Chabrol had a son, Matthieu Chabrol with his first wife, Agnès and a second son, Thomas Chabrol with his second wife, the actress Stéphane Audran. His third wife, Aurore Paquiss, had worked with him as a script supervisor since the 1950s. In 1995, he was awarded the Prix René Clair from the Académie française.
Noted French Prime Minister Fillon, “With the death of Claude Chabrol, French cinema has lost one of its maestros.”
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