French New Wave film director Claude Chabrol dies at 80

Prolific French film-maker Claude Chabrol, who helped start the New Wave movement in the 1950s and went on to create some of the darkest portrayals on the silver screen, died on Sunday aged 80.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy compared Chabrol to 19th century novelist Honore de Balzac and Renaissance writer Francois Rabelais, hailing "a great author and a great film maker".

"He took the finesse of his social depictions from Balzac. His humour and vividness he got from Rabelais, but he was most of all himself in his films, as in life. And I'm certain that everyone will miss him," Sarkozy said.

Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe noted the disappearance of "the inventor of an inspired, abounding and profoundly human cinema... Chabrol produced an immense and particularly original work, that is today a monument of French cinema."

Born in Paris on June 24, 1930, Chabrol became famous for his sombre portrayals of French provincial bourgeois life.

Along with Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, he was an icon of French New Wave cinema, with all three writing for the renowned Cahiers du Cinema.

Chabrol authored dozens of films over more than 50 years, from his first work, "Le Beau Serge", made in 1958 thanks to his wife's inheritance, to his last film, "Bellamy", starring Gerard Depardieu which was released last year.

Raised in a family of pharmacists, he spent World War II in the countryside south of Paris, before studying French literature and pharmacy in the capital.

After university, he began writing for Cahiers du Cinema alongside future film heavyweights Truffaut and Godard.

He swiftly achieved fame with "Le Beau Serge" - often considered the first film of the New Wave movement - winning the Locarno Festival's Grand Prix, while his next work "Les Cousins" won the Berlin Film Festival's Golden Bear in 1969.

His second wife, Stephane Audran, was the star of many of his films, including "La Femme Infidele", "Le Boucher" and "Juste Avant La Nuit", in 1970.

As part of the New Wave movement - a term coined by critics as La Nouvelle Vague - Chabrol joined a group of young directors, including Eric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette, who rejected classical Hollywood cinema.

Their work was steeped in the political and social upheavals of the time, and experimented with new techniques in lighting, editing and narrative - anything that would break with dominant conservative film-making practice.

"I knew there would be difficulties, and sometimes I went quite far, but in the end I'm fairly happy, because more than four-fifths of the films I made correspond more or less with what I wanted to do," he told AFP in 2009.

His depictions of the "petite bourgeoisie" of small-town France were often uncomfortable to watch, showing the greed and cruelty of families crushed by the need for respectable appearances while concealing festering scandals.

He showcased the up-and-coming Isabelle Huppert in his 1978 "Violette Noziere" about a famous teenage poisoner in the 1930s. Chabrol went on to give her the lead role in five other films, many depicting monstrous yet respectable characters.

"He had in himself a mixture of coldness, often humour, a quality of observation," Huppert told France Info.

"He filmed me as though I was his daughter, he did not film me as an object of desire, which sometimes shapes a relationship between a director and his actress."

His lighter works included crime films "Inspecteur Lavardin" and "Poulet au vinaigre", starring Jean Poiret, which had huge commercial success in France.

At the peak of a career during which he made more than 80 films for cinema and television, the Acadamie Francaise awarded Chabrol the Rene Clair Prize in 2005.

Depardieu, who starred in Chabrol's last feature-length film, hailed his love of life.

"He had this love of food, of sharing, this wit, he had everything, he had the history of cinema, passion, he also had childishness, laughter," Depardieu told RTL radio.

Chabrol married his third wife, Aurore Pajot, in 1983, and leaves behind four children.

Arts and Entertainment
Loading individual letters on to an original Heidelberg printing press
books
Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'