Jean-Pierre Melville Centennial Retrospective

 

 

A pioneering figure in the French New Wave, French writer-director Jean-Pierre Melville  is one of the key names and one of the most influential figures in the history of cinema. Primarily remembered for his poised, tragic and minimalist crime films, Melville’s career was brilliantly varied , encompassing wartime dramas and refined character studies.

A selection of 10 films in restored versions, organized in partnership with the Institut Français.

 

 

 

About Jean-Pierre Melville

 

Born in 1917, Jean-Pierre Grumbach was 23 years old when he joined the Resistance and the Forces Françaises Libres to fight Nazi German occupation army. After the war, he kept his codename Melville taken from American writer Herman Melville. In 1945, Melville, a cinema fan since childhood, chose filmmaking as his career.

He directed one short film and 13 feature films, including his adaptation of writer Jean Cocteau's famous Les Enfants terribles. His 3 films set during wartime are all dedicated to complex character studies, dealing with the fate of civilians in the Resistance. 

A perfectionist determined to keep control over all the aspects of filmmaking, Melville created his own film studio and became an independent producer.

Melville is of course famous for his minimalist and restrained thrillers, often big box-office hits. Ambiguity of contradictory feelings, taciturnity and solitude, cold action and the constant threat of death all contribute to the design of unique human and moral figures.

Melville’s filmmaking style brings together the tropes of American gangster movies infused with jazz music and French sensibilities and experiences, through a unique abstract form that paved the way to new approaches of cinema, from the French New Wave to the work of other filmmakers and film critics. 

Among Melville’s assistants and collaborators were many future filmmakers, such as Volker Schlöndorff, Charles Bitsch, Bertrand Tavernier, Rémy Grumbach or Michel Drach  Melville's films featured some of the most brilliant French film stars, from Lino Ventura to Simone Signoret, Yves Montand, André Bourvil, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Catherine Deneuve and Alain Delon.

Many filmmakers around the world acknowledge Melville's influence on their approach of cinema, including Chinese masters John Woo Yu-sen and Johnnie To Kei-feng, as well as American masters like Martin Scorsese or Michael Mann.

Films synopsis and credits

 

 

a Melville quote

‘I don’t know what will be left of me fifty years from now. I suspect that all films will have aged terribly and that the cinema probably won’t even exist anymore. My guess is that the final disappearance of cinemas will take place around the year 2020, so in fifty years’ time, there will be nothing but television. Well, I would be happy if I got one line in the Great Universal Encyclopedia of the Cinema, and I think that’s the sort of ambition every filmmaker must have. This is a business in which you have to be not ambitious, which I’m not, but you have to have ambition in what you do, which isn’t at all the same thing. I’m not ambitious, I don’t want to be something—I have always been what I am, I haven’t become anything—but I’ve always had, and I shall always try to retain, this feeling that ambition in one’s work is an absolutely healthy, justifiable thing. You can’t make films just for the sake of making films. If fate wills that I should make more films, I’ll try to remain faithful to this ideal of being ambitious when I start a film; not being ambitious between films, but being ambitious when I start work, telling myself, “People have to enjoy this.” That’s my ambition: to fill cinemas.’ (Jean-Pierre Melville, in: Melville on Melville  by Rui Nogueira, 1971)

Le Cercle Rouge

France / Italy

Director(s): Jean-Pierre Melville

Script-writer: Jean-Pierre Melville

Leading cast(s): Alain Delon / Bourvil / Yves Montand / Gian Maria Volonté

Categories: Drama / crime / Thriller

Countries: France / Italy

Language(s): French

Running time: 134min

Show Schedule:

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Director(s): Jean-Pierre Melville

Script-writer: Jean-Pierre Melville / Auguste Le Breton

Leading cast(s): Roger Duchesne / Isabelle Corey / Daniel Cauchy / Jean-Pierre Melville

Categories: Plot / crime

Countries: France

Language(s): French

Running time: 103min

Show Schedule:

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L'armée des ombres

France / Italy

Director(s): Jean-Pierre Melville

Script-writer: Joseph Kessel/Jean-Pierre Melville

Leading cast(s): Lino Ventura/Paul Meurisse/Jean-Pierre Cassel/Simone Signoret

Categories: Plot / War

Countries: France / Italy

Language(s): French / English / German

Running time: 145min

Show Schedule:

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Un flic

France / Italy

Director(s): Jean-Pierre Melville

Script-writer: Jean-Pierre Melville

Leading cast(s): Catherine Deneuve / Alain Delon / Richard Crenna / Riccardo Cucciolla

Categories: Plot / action / crime

Countries: France / Italy

Language(s): French

Running time: 104min

Show Schedule:

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Director(s): Jean-Pierre Melville

Script-writer: No Available

Leading cast(s): Juliette Gréco /Philippe Lemaire /Yvonne Sanson/ Daniel Cauchy

Categories: Plot

Countries: France / Italy

Language(s): French

Running time: 104min

Show Schedule:

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Le Samourai

France / Italy

Director(s): Jean-Pierre Melville

Script-writer: Joan McLeod / Jean-Pierre Melville

Leading cast(s): Alain Delon / Nathalie Delon / Cathy Rosier /Jacques Leroy

Categories: Drama / Thriller / crime

Countries: France / Italy

Language(s): French

Running time: 105min

Show Schedule:

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Director(s): Jean-Pierre Melville

Script-writer: Jean-Pierre Melvile

Leading cast(s): Béby /Maïss

Categories: short film

Countries: France

Language(s): French

Running time: 18 minutes

Show Schedule:

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Director(s): Jean-Pierre Melville

Script-writer: Jean-Pierre Melville, adapted from Béatrix Beck’s novel

Leading cast(s): Jean-Paul Belmondo/Emmanuelle Riva/Irène Tunc /Howard Vernon /Volker Schlöndorff /Nicole Mirel / Monique Bertho /Patricia Gozzi / Monique Hennessy /Marco Behar

Categories: Drama / crime / Thriller

Countries: France / Italy

Language(s): French

Running time: 130 minutes

Show Schedule:

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Le Doulos

France

Director(s): Jean-Pierre Melville

Script-writer: Jean-Pierre Melville, adapted from Pierre Lesou’s novel

Leading cast(s): Jean-Paul Belmondo/ Serge Reggiani /Jean Desailly /Fabienne Dali/ Michel Piccoli/ René Lefèvre/ Marcel Cuvelier/ Jack Leonard/ Monique Hennessy

Categories: Drama / crime / Thriller

Countries: France

Language(s): French

Running time: 108 minutes

Show Schedule:

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Director(s): Wu Yusen

Script-writer: Wu Yusen

Leading cast(s): Di Long/ Zhang Guorong/Zhou Renfa/ Zhu Baoyi/Li Zixiong

Categories: Plot

Countries: China

Language(s): Chinese

Running time: 95min

Show Schedule:

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