Remembering Clouzot

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The film screenings at the Alliances Françaises in India honour several masterpieces of the great film director Henri Georges Clouzot, a Hitchcokesque artist and visionary. Clouzot lived a life of hard toil, but he courageously emerged stronger each time and left behind a cinematic treasure to remember. 

Henri Georges Clouzot

Henri Georges Clouzot was the son of a professional appraiser. He wished to become a Naval Cadet but was rejected as he was diagnosed with Myopia. He then left for Paris to pursue Political Science. Early in life, he began translating scripts for German films. While in the Nazi Germany, he was fired for maintaining close associations with the Jewish film maker Adolphe Osso. He spent the excruciating next five years of his life in a sanatorium which was instrumental in several cinematic elements of his films in the later years. In his straitened conditions, even Edith Piaf refused to purchase the songs written by him.

During the Occupation, Clouzot continued to make films under the aegis of the German film production house Continental. During this period he directed L’Assassin Habite au 21, Le Dernier de Six and Le Corbeau that met with enormous success. However, with the collapse of Occupation in France, Le Corbeau received severe criticism for its apparently Nazi propaganda. Following the Liberation of France, Clouzot was banned from film making in France for two years. He received letters of solidarity from Sartre who stood to defend Le Corbeau. When the ban was lifted, Clouzot reinitiated his career and produced certain unforgettable films in the history of French cinema.

Clouzot et Picasso

Clouzot & Picasso

Known for their Hitchcockesque thrill, Clouzot’s films received high critical acclaim in the post WWII period. Released in 1955, Les Diaboliques won the Louis Delluc Prize and the best foreign film at the New York Film Critics Awards in 1955. It also placed on TIME Magazine’s list of top 25 horror films. It is said that both Clouzot and Hitchcock were contenders for the script of this film based on the book ‘Celle qui n’était plus’ by Pierre Boileau and  Thomas Narcejac, but Clouzot managed to bag it just by a few hours. Le Salaire de la Peur (1953) starred Yves Montand and Vera Clouzot based on the novel by Georges Arnaud. The film was first of its kind to win both The Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival and the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. L’Assassin Habite au 21 (1942), a comedy thriller was well received by the critics and cinephiles unanimously in France. Mystery of Picasso (1956) was a documentary directed by Clouzot in which Picasso paints for the camera. The paintings in the film were destroyed so as to relegate their existence to the film only. Consequently the film was declared National Heritage by the government of France.

 Clouzot’s cinema is accessible to everyone, another reason for his being honoured by the Alliances Françaises all over India this year.

Cinematography

  • The Murderer Lives at Number 21 (1942)
  • Le Corbeau (1943)
  • Quai des Orfèvres (1947)
  • Manon (1949)
  • Retour à la Vie (1949)
  • Miquette et Sa Mère (1950)
  • The Wages of Fear (1953)
  • Les Diaboliques (1954)
  • The Mystery of Picasso (1956)
  • Les Espions (1957)
  • La Vérité (1960)
  • La Prisonnière (1968)
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Rédaction

Directeur de publication : Délégation Générale de la Fondation Alliance Française en Inde et au Népal

Rédacteur en chef : Laurent Elisio Bordier

Rédacteur/Coordinateur national : Siddharth Bhatt

Rédacteurs, contributeurs : Guillaume, Abhirami, Alexandre, Chintan, Cléa, David, Eleonore, Elie, Kanika, Karine, Nita, Thomas, Malvika, Marie-Joëlle, Meera, Mayuri, Mitushi, Alice, Prutha, Romain, Ritika, Manas, Supriya ...