Marcel Carne b Albert Cranche Paris France August d October

Marcel Carné is a controversial figure in French cinema, for while many see in his work an outmoded classicism that was transcended by the directors of the French New Wave, others find in it evidence of the vitality of studio filmmaking in the 1930s. Carné trained as a photographer and worked in journalism before hiring on as an assistant to René Clair and Jacques Feyder. Carné's first feature, Jenny (1936), starring Françoise Rosay, marked the beginning of his long and productive collaboration with the poet and scriptwriter Jacques Prévert.

Carné's genius lay in his ability to gather a team of creative artists: screenwriters (including Prévert), designers (including Alexander Trauner), composers (Maurice Jaubert, Joseph Kosma), and a bevy of French actors, including Jules Berry, Louis Jouvet, Michel Simon, and Arletty (Arlette-Léonie Bathiat). His most famous film is Les Enfants de paradis (Children of Paradise, 1945), which portrays the love affair between a demi-mondain (courtesan) and an actor.

From the mid-1930s until the late 1940s, Carné was one of the most respected and powerful directors in France. He initially influenced the direction of French cinema through his writing in Cinémagazine, inspiring poetic realism. Poetic realism, which Carneé later called le fantastique social (social fantasy), espoused a pessimistic view of the human condition, which he conveyed through artful composition, careful mise-en-scene, polished acting, high-key lighting, and tragic endings. His films in this style include Hôtel du Nord (1938), Le Jour se lève (Daybreak, 1939), and Le Quai des brumes (Port of Shadows, 1938), which sparked controversy for its morbid subject matter.

For better or for worse, Carné and his team communicated to a popular audience a pervasive atmosphere of melancholy that remains a milestone in French cinema. Following the end of his partnership with Prévert with Les Portes de la nuit ( The Gates of Night, 1946) and La Marie du port (Mary of the Port, 1950), Carné lost his best collaborators, and his subsequent films were less accomplished.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING

Jenny (1936), Drole de drame, ou L'étrange aventure de Docteur Molyneux (Bizarre, Bizarre, 1937), Port of Shadows (1938), Hotel du Nord (1938), Daybreak (1939), Les Visiteurs du soir (The Devil's Envoys, 1942), Children of Paradise (1945), Gates of Night (1946)

FURTHER READING

Andrew, Dudley. Mists of Regret: Culture and Sensibility in Classic French Film. Princeton, NJ: University of Princeton Press, 1995. Williams, .Alan. Republic of Images: A History of French Filmmaking. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.

Hilary Ann Radner and was involved in the making of La Vie est a nous (The People of France, 1936), a communist propaganda film. Though light comedies and musicals were more popular with the public, these films were praised by critics and film historians. With the defeat of the Popular Front, the melancholic tendencies of poetic realism became more marked and were reflected in narratives dealing with doomed love affairs, betrayals, and murders, usually set in Paris in working-class settings. Such films are exemplified by Le Quai des brumes (Port of Shadows, 1938) and Le Jour se leve (Daybreak, 1939) by Marcel Carné (1909— 1996). Both films starred Jean Gabin (1904-1976), who, with Arletty (Arlette-Léonie Bathiat; 1898-1992), came to incarnate French working-class values, especially in terms of their spoken delivery, which was marked by a strong demotic accent. In addition to Carné, directors associated with this style were Renoir, Duvivier, and Jean Grémillon (1901-1959).

Renoir, who began his career with films like La Fille de l'eau (Whirlpool of Fate, 1925) and Nana (1926), both with the actress Catherine Hessling (1900-1979), is considered by many to be the most significant director of this period. His films ran the gamut of possible genres, from poetic realist films to avant-garde films, from comedies to popular melodramas, and from literary adaptation to Popular Front propaganda. Renoir's La Grande illusion (The Grand Illusion, 1937) and La Bete humaine (The Human Beast, 1938), both with Gabin, and his masterpiece, La Regle du jeu (The Rules of the Game, 1939), with Marcel Dalio (1900-1983), were box-office

Marcel Carne'. everett collection. reproduced by permission.

Marcel Carne'. everett collection. reproduced by permission.

triumphs. His career was interrupted by World War II, which he spent in Hollywood.

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