Chabrol takes his final bow
by Fabien Lemercier
13/09/2010 - A historic figure of the New Wave and one of France’s most famous directors of the last 50 years, Claude Chabrol died on Sunday aged 80. Echoed on the front pages of the national media, tributes have been pouring in for a man whose caustic sense of humour and joie de vivre captivated mainstream audiences.
Born on June 24, 1930 in Paris, Chabrol began his film career as a critic at Cahiers du Cinéma before making a successful transition to directing with Le Beau Serge (Silver Sail at Locarno in 1958 and Jean Vigo Award 1959) and The Cousins (Golden Bear at Berlin in 1959). A prolific filmmaker specialised in scathing portraits of the provincial bourgeoisie, he made 55 narrative features during his career. His final film, Bellamy [trailer], was presented out of competition at last year’s Berlinale.
A regular at major festivals, Chabrol twice appeared in competition at Cannes with Violette Nozière in 1978 (Best Actress Award for Isabelle Huppert, the director’s favourite actress) and Chicken With Vinegar in 1985. At the Venice Mostra, he was selected three times in the race for the Golden Lion: in 1959 with Leda, in 1988 with Story of Women (Best Actress for Huppert) and in 1995 with The Ceremony (Volpi Cup for Sandrine Bonnaire and Huppert). The director also presented The Girl Cut In Two [trailer] out of competition on the Lido in 2007.
The Berlinale, where the director was discovered in 1959, was a constant throughout his career – he was selected six times in competition. in 1968 with Bad Girls (Best Actress for Stéphane Audran), in 1973 (Wedding In Blood), 1987 (Masks), 1999 (The Colour of Lies), 2003 (The Flower of Evil) and 2006 (Comedy of Power [trailer]). Last year, the festival awarded Chabrol the Berlinale Camera for Lifetime Achievement.
Chabrol won many international awards, including honours in 1997 for The Swindle at San Sebastian, where The Butcher earned Best Actress for Audran in 1971. He also received the Louis-Delluc Prize in 2000 for Nightcap.
(Translated from French)