Claude Chabrol is the forefather of the Nouvelle Vague. He was the first to direct a feature-length film, and then helped his friends to produce their films thanks to his immediate success.
Born in 1930 in Paris into a bourgeois family, Claude Chabrol grew up with his grandparents in Sardent in the Creuse during the war. Already passionate about film, he helped manage the village film club. He soon returned soon to his childhood village to shoot his first film: Le Beau Serge in 1958.
Back in Paris, Claude Chabrol follows in the footsteps of his father while studying to be a pharmacist. Not very enthusiastic about science, he eventually drops out after having passed the first year four times.
Having never given up his love for cinema, he was hired by Fox in France in the early 1950s as a press secretary. Around the same time, Chabrol co-wrote the first book on Alfred Hitchcock, which was shunned by film critics, with his friend Éric Rohmer.
In 1956, after his marriage to Agnès Goute, Claude Chabrol founded his production house, AJYM films - the initials of his wife and children. His stepfather's financial backing allowed him to finance his first films: Le Beau Serge then Les Cousins in 1959. La Nouvelle Vague was born.
Building on his success, Chabrol helps his friends, also film critics, who dream of becoming directors. Accordingly, he produces Eric Rohmer's first feature, Le Signe du Lion, and adds his name to Jean-Luc Godard's first film, À bout de souffle, to reassure producers.
With 54 feature films under his belt, Claude Chabrol is a very prolific film-maker. He was known in his early days for his criticism of the French bourgeoisie, an environment he knew well. But Chabrol also knows how to get out of his comfort zone by being a producer or by going to the other side of the camera as an actor, screenwriter, writer, or director at the theatre.
The Famed Director
From the 1980s, cinema became a family affair among the Chabrol family. Claude's third wife, Aurore Pajot, is a scriptwriter on most of his films. Her daughter is the director’s assistant. For Claude Chabrol's sons, one is an actor and regularly obtains roles in his father's films, and the other is a music composer. With the exception of the eldest son, the whole family works in the patriarch's films.
Music occupies an important place in Chabrol's films, they are marked by criticism of the French bourgeoisie, a slow rhythm, a hypnotic scenario, sometimes psychedelic even anarchic but always set in music.
Famous from the start of his career in his profession, Chabrol allowed the New Wave to bring him success but he also highlighted certain actresses and actors along the way, in particular Isabelle Huppert who said that Chabrol was her most beautiful film story. With 7 films in common, their careers are intertwined.
After a long career studded by numerous prestigious awards, Claude Chabrol revolutionised French cinema. He died in Paris at the age of 80.
Prix Louis Delluc 2000 - Louis Delluc prize : Merci pour le chocolat
Mostra de Venise 1995 - Volpi cup for best female role : La cérémonie
César 1996 - César for best Actress : La cérémonie
Berlinale 1959 - Golden Bear : Les Cousins
Festival international du film de Locarno 1958 - Director's award : Le Beau Serge
Top Claude Chabrol films
La Cérémonie (1995) with Isabelle Huppert, Sandrine Bonnaire, Jean-Pierre Cassel.
Merci pour le chocolat (2000) with Isabelle Huppert and Jacques Dutronc.
Le boucher (1970) with Stéphane Audran and Jean Yanne.
La femme infidèle (1969) with Stéphane Audran, Michel Bouquet and Maurice Ronet.
Violette Nozière (1978) with Isabelle Huppert, Stéphane Audran and Jean Carmet.
Les Cousins (1959) with Gérard Blain, Jean-Claude Brialy and Juliette Mayniel.
Betty (1992) with Marie Trintignant, Stéphane Audran and Jean-François Garreaud.
L’enfer (1994) with François Cluzet, Emmanuelle Béart and Marc Lavoine.
Une affaire de femmes (1988) with Isabelle Huppert, François Cluzet and Marie Trintignant.
Les noces rouges (1973) with Claude Piéplu, Pierre Maury and Stéphane Audran.