Claude Chabrol, one of the founding members of the French New Wave, has passed away on September 12 at the age of 80. Together with Éric Rohmer, he co-authored one of the first books on Alfred Hitchcock (Hitchcock, the First Forty-Four Films). His suspense thrillers are often compared to Hitchcock, but Chabrol succeeded at developing his own approach which empahsized psychological subtlety and often included incisive depictions of French provincial and bourgeois life.
Many of Chabrol's best films were made in the late Sixties and early Seventies with the actress Stéphane Audran, to whom he was married at the time. These include La Femme infidèle (1969), Le Boucher (1970) and the decidedly offbeat La Rupture (1970).
He also worked closely with Isabelle Huppert, creating some of her best roles. In particular, La Cérémonie (1995) represented a major career comeback for Chabrol and remains one of his masterpieces. Also worth checking out are Chabrol and Huppert's acidic satires of French bourgeous society Merci pour le chocolat (2000) and La Fleur du mal (2002).
A number of Chabrol's films are available for checkout on DVD-LEND at the Music and Media Library.
His brilliant two first features, Le Beau Serge (1958) and Les Cousins (1959), have not been distributed on DVD in the U.S., but the Music and Media Library has imported DVDs for viewing within the library. Les Cousins (DVD 14399) contains an excellent commentary track by the film scholar Adrian Martin.
James Steffen - September 13, 2010
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