On Gérard Depardieu’s birthday, a look at his work with the director Maurice Pialat

Posted on December 27, 2018


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or Gérard Depardieu’s birthday (December 27), I wanted to pick one film to write about — say, Claude Berri’s Jean de Florette (one of the actor’s most beloved films, and one of his biggest hits), or Andrzej Wajda’s Danton (one of the earliest art films I saw, courtesy late-night Doordarshan programming, and frankly, understood very little of, at that time), or Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900 (co-starring Robert De Niro), or the two excellent late-period François Truffaut outings (The Last Metro and The Woman Next Door). But a series of articles by The New Yorker’s Richard Brody made me settle on Depardieu’s relatively lesser-known (and less heralded) collaboration with Maurice Pialat. When honouring the filmmaker, in 2011, the Locarno Film Festival called his works with Depardieu “among the greatest partnerships in film history. Four superb films together, an extraordinary artistic collaboration.”

Depardieu has had other notable collaborations, with directors like Bertrand Blier, but Pialat is notable for his unique cinematic worldview. His first feature, L’Enfance Nue (The Naked Childhood, 1969), was co-produced by Truffaut, but he detested the cinephilia that marked the New Wave. He said, “People say today that the cinema is dying. But it started dying in the age of cinephilia, which is to say, right after the end of the war. Some guys started treating the cinema like a curio, they went to watch movies with a notebook and a pencil… That was the beginning of the end. And all those people, thus the whole New Wave, only knew the cinema that way.” But he had no illusions about himself, either. When asked for his thoughts about his legacy, he said, “Posterity can shove it for all I care.”

Continued at the link above.

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