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Marcel CARNÉ

French Marcel CARNÉ

French film director

Source :  Françoise GUILLAUME

Born: on August 18, 1906 in Paris, France
Died: on October 31, 1996 in Clamart, France


Biography

Born in Paris, France, Marcel Carné began his career in silent film as a trainee with director Jacques Feyder. By age 25, Carné had already directed his first film, one that marked the beginning of a successful collaboration with surrealist poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert. This collaborative relationship lasted for more than a dozen years, during which they created films that defined French cinema of the day. Together, they were responsible for developing poetic realism.

Under the German occupation of France during World War II, Carné worked in the Vichy zone where he subverted the regime's attempts to control art and filmed his masterpiece Les Enfants du paradis (Children of Paradise). In the late 1990s, the film was voted "Best French Film of the Century" in a poll of 600 French critics and professionals. Post war, he and Prévert followed this triumph with what at the time was the most expensive production ever undertaken in the history of French film. But the result, titled Les Portes de la nuit, was panned by the critics and a box office failure that ended the duo's working relationship.

Through the 1950s, the war-weary French moviegoing public wanted feel-good comedy and romance films, not the stark realities Carné continued to offer. By the end of the decade, with the New Wave era now underway, other than his 1958 hit Les Tricheurs, Marcel Carné's postwar films met with only uneven success and many were greeted by an almost unrelenting negative criticism from the press and within members of the film industry. In 1958, Carné was the Head of the Jury at the 6th Berlin International Film Festival. Carné made his last film in 1976.

Carné was gay and made little secret about it, though he did not flaunt it either. Several of his later films contain references to male homosexuality or bisexuality. His one-time partner was Roland Lesaffre who appeared in many of his films.

In 1989 a book was published by Edward Baron Turk as part of the Harvard Film Studies that told his story under the title Child of Paradise: Marcel Carné and the Golden Age of French Cinema.

Marcel Carné died in 1996 in Clamart, Hauts-de-Seine, and was buried in the Cimetière Saint-Vincent in Montmartre.

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