French New Wave film director Chabrol dies aged 80

Sun Sep 12, 2010 10:24am EDT
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By Daniel Flynn

PARIS (Reuters) - Claude Chabrol, one of France's most eminent film directors and a pioneer of the influential New Wave style that revolutionized French cinema, died on Sunday at the age of 80.

Chabrol, a close friend of legendary New Wave directors Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard who broke with French cinematic tradition, was a prolific film-maker with some 60 movies to his name, including "Hell" and "The Butcher."

News of Chabrol's death, just a year after he released his last feature film "Bellamy" with actor Gerard Depardieu, was greeted with outpourings of sorrow from France's cultural and political elite.

"The whole of French cinema and France has lost one of its giants," said Martine Aubry, leader of the opposition Socialist party. "Claude Chabrol's cinema was one of the works which constructed our society's vision of itself."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, describing Chabrol as a "great author and great film-maker," said: "I am sure that we are all going to miss him."

Born on 24 June 1930 in Paris where his parents owned a prosperous pharmacy, Chabrol enjoyed a comfortable middle-class childhood. He studied a bachelors of art at the Sorbonne and spent time discussing film with the young Godard and Truffaut.

The three young men later became film critics for the hugely influential Cahiers du Cinema in the 1950s, before launching careers as directors. They broke with French cinema's focus on historical costume dramas to introduce contemporary themes, ordinary protagonists and fragmented narrative structures.


<p>French director Claude Chabrol poses during a photocall to present his film 'L'Ivresse du Pouvoir' (Comedy of Power') running in the competition at the 56th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin in this February 16, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files</p>