Sunday, September 12, 2010

Claude Chabrol, R.I.P.

Claude Chabrol

Les Biches (Chabrol's "comeback "film)

Ed here: At least part Chabrol's work was like Simenon's in that it deals with the intersection of crime and the middle class. A directior sent me a DVD of a Chabrol film and asked my opinion of it as something we might adapt and work on together. It was only available in French so I had to go with the sub-titles. I watched it several times and each time got something more from it. It was that rich. We did a treatment but couldn't get anybody interested in doing it. Not enough "bang bang" as one producer said. I felt the same way about Long Day's Journey Into Night. I even admire (and have seen several times) Chabrol's Madame Bovary which is the only film of the novel that makes any human sense to me. What a fine career.

Roger Robert posted a long fine piece about Charol today. Here are some pieces from it.

Roger Ebert's Journal
Claude Chabrol, RIP. The death of a master
By Roger Ebert on September 12, 2010 1:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Claude Chabrol, who died Sunday, Sept. 12 at 80, was a founder of the New Wave and a giant of French cinema. This interview, which took place during the 1970 New York Film Festival, shows him at midpoint in his life, just as he had emerged from a period of neglect and was making some of his best films.

Claude Chabrol's "This Man Must Die" is advertised as a thriller, but I found it more of a macabre study of human behavior. There's no doubt as to the villain's identity, and little doubt that he will die (although how he dies is left deliciously ambiguous).

Unlike previous masters of thrillers like Hitchcock, Chabrol goes for mood and tone more than for plot. You get the notion that his killings and revenges are choreographed for a terribly observant camera and an ear that hears the slightest change in human speech.

For this reason, particularly, it's necessary to put up a squawk and insisted on the film's original subtitled version; without the rhythm of the sound track, the movie simply doesn't work. New Yorkers saw the subtitles, of course, but Allied Artists apparently decided to let the rest of the country see a wretched botch of a dubbing job.

I wouldn't be surprised if the dubbed version flopped; "Z" ran for months in its exquisite subtitled version, but flopped in the neighborhoods because a lousy dubbed version was substituted.

Let's face it. Movies by director like Chabrol or Costa-Gavras are intended for the more literate section of the movie audience. You can dub a spaghetti Western and nobody cares, but mess with Chabrol and you're eliminating the very quality audiences respond to in his work.


But just then, when his career as a serious director seemed most in doubt, Chabrol arrived at the 1968 New York Film Festival with "Les Biches." It was an artful combination of lesbianism and very Chabrolian irony, with a nice bit of murder at the end, which forced you to re-think all the characters. And Chabrol, the first of the New Wave directors to be hailed and the first to be dismissed, was very clearly back in business again.

for the rest go here:


Ron Scheer said...

By chance last night we watched A GIRL CUT IN TWO. Such a strange and off-putting film if you are looking for plot, but clearly one that you could watch twice and get a completely new experience the 2nd time.

Another difficulty for movie-goers is his lack of sympathetic characters. Every one of this bunch was mildly to irritatingly unlikable. Some from the start, some just slowly got on your nerves. I found myself watching only to find out how all the chickens were going to come home to roost.

I don't know French well enough to get much without subtitles, but dubbing this film would have been a disaster. Thanks for your post.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Loved his films. The Butcher was my favorite, I think. But many were wonderful--if dark.

Jobs retail said...

What becomes indisputably clear is that Chabrol is one of the most uneven great directors.