My Gleanings

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Prevert brothers and the 'young turks'

this post is continued from Sacha Guitry and the 'young turks'
Madsen's reference to "films usually scripted by the Prévert brothers, Jacques and Pierre" leaves one with the impression that they were writing partners in all their endeavors. The truth was, of course, that Jacques was the writer and Pierre was a film director. In fact, by the IMDb, they shared the writing credit only three times; twice, in films which Pierre directed and once, Souvenirs perdus, for a sketch in a film that was directed by Christian-Jaque. Jacques also wrote the screenplay for Pierre's film L’Affaire est dans le sac in the early 1930s.
Considering Pierre Prévert, the May 1957 "Situation of French Cinema" issue of Cahiers du Cinema carried this thumbnail critique of him.
"Has played an important role in the career of his brother and thus in the evolution of French cinema. Should also have been the point-man for a new comic cinema, a promise of all his films. The failure of Voyage-surprise marked an ending, although this charming, poetic and awkward film should have been a starting point." (page 62 my translation)
It also should be noted that in 1957, Pierre Prévert had not been active as a director for 10 years and still he was considered at Cahiers as part of the ''situation" of French cinema. Only three of the directors they considered had not been active for more that three years and Pierre was the longest inactive director in the group.

As for Jacques Prévert, well there are these young turk testimonials to him.

From François Truffaut (and in A Certain Tendency of French Cinema),
“Considering the monotony and steadfast baseness of the scripts of today, one finds oneself thinking back to the scripts of Jacques Prevert. He believes in the devil and thus in God. And if most of his characters have been by this lone whim made guilty of all of the sins of creation, space is left always for a couple, a new Adam and Eve, on whom as the film ends, the story is going to recommence.” (my translation)
In 1956, in a review of
Marcel Carné's Le pays d'où je viens which scripted by Marcel Archard and Jacques Emmanuel, Truffaut bemoans the fact that Carné can not again find a screenwriter of Jacques Prévert's calibre, describing Prévert as,
“...a man capable of inventing a story mixing four or five simultaneous incidents with twelve quite active characters who lose each other and find each other again according to a perfect dramatic construction.” (my translation)

Eric Rohmer from Rediscovering America Dec 1955 writing of having seen Quai des brumes when it was first released,
“Marcel Carné’s film unveiled the brilliance of a poetry that I had not known to be within the powers of the seventh art.”

Jean-Luc Godard from a roundtable discussion Hiroshima, notre amour published in Cahiers in July 1959 comparing Quai des brumes and Le Jour se léve to Jean Renoir's La Regle de jeu,
“Both of Carné’s films are very, very important. But nowadays they are a tiny bit less important than Renoir’s film.”

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