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Jacques Prévert

Jacques Prévert

Thw Australian Cinematheque presents a special program celebrating French poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert (1900–77), considered by many as unequalled in the history of French screenwriting. His striking surrealist collages are also included in the 'Picasso and his collection' exhibition. Prévert’s longstanding creative partnership with director Marcel Carné made them key figures in the style of 'poetic realism' in French cinema of the 1930s which combined lyrical elements with grim depictions of reality. Program highlights include Carné’s Les Enfants du Paradis (The Children of Paradise) 1945, a landmark of the golden age of French cinema; documentary filmmaker Joris Ivens’s La Seine a Rencontré Paris (The Seine Meets Paris) 1957, a film poem about life in Paris along the banks of the Seine; and Paul Grimault’s revered animation Le Roi et l'oiseau (The King and the Mockingbird) 1980, adapted by Prévert from a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen.

Jacques Prévert film program presented with the generous support of the French Embassy in Australia and the Ministère des Affaires Étrangères (Paris).

Production still from It’s in the Bag

L'Affaire est dans le sac (It’s in the Bag) 1932 All ages
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 45 MINUTES, FRANCE, FRENCH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: PIERRE PRÉVERT / SCRIPT: JACQUES PREVERT / ORIGINAL STORY: AKOS RATHONY / CINEMATOGRAPHERS: ALPHONSE GIBORY, ELI LOTAR / EDITOR: LOUIS CHAVANCE / PRODUCTION CO: PATHÉ-NATAN / PRINT SOURCE: MINISTÉRE DES AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÉRES (PARIS) / RIGHTS: LES GRANDS FILMS CLASSIQUES

‘Benjamin Déboisé is a hat maker, more or less crazy and certainly dishonest. He plans to kidnap the son of a wealthy American nicknamed “The King of Blotting Paper”. The kidnapping is a success but the gangsters soon realise they have kidnapped the millionaire’s wife instead. A farcical comedy in which the Prévert brothers give free expression to their theory on the logic of deliberate absurdity and ludicrousness.’ MAE

Thu 12 Jun 12 noon (with The Seine Meets Paris) and Fri 20 Jun 6.00pm / Cinema A

 

Jenny 1936 All ages
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 105 MINUTES, FRANCE, FRENCH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: MARCEL CARNÉ / SCRIPT: JACQUES PRÉVERT, JACQUES CONSTANT / ORIGINAL STORY: PIERRE ROCHER / CINEMATOGRAPHER: ROGER HUBERT / EDITOR: ERNEST HAJOS / PRODUCTION CO: LES RÉALISATIONS D'ART CINÉMATOGRAPHIQUE / PRINT SOURCE: BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE

‘On the face of it, a melodrama filled with conventions, this film is relieved by its adroit dialogue, by its shrewd and vivid observation of character and mastery of visual narrative. Seen again today, it is important mainly for the promise it holds of more mature work in the future. At the time, Carné still believed in shooting on location, and hence the exterior scenes of misty banks, railway bridges and dawns, which anticipate some of his more celebrated morceaux de bravoure in the later realistic films. They are oddly nordic and yet typically Parisian… Fate and pessimism already invade the screen, and in fact, Carné seems to owe more in his first sound film to Prévert than to either Feyder or Clair. The cast is remarkable, and includes at least three artists who were to become important in other fields: Jean-Louis Barrault, Joseph Kosma (then a little-known musician), and Roger Blin, one of the most intelligently influential men of the Paris stage.’ Jean Queval

Sat 21 Jun 11.00am and Sun 22 Jun 11.00am / Cinema A

Production still from Bizarre, Bizarre

Drôle de Drame (Bizarre, Bizarre) 1937 All ages
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 91 MINUTES, FRANCE, FRENCH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: MARCEL CARNÉ / SCRIPT: JACQUES PRÉVERT / ORIGINAL STORY: J. STORER CLOUSTON / CINEMATOGRAPHER: EUGEN SCHÜFFTAN / EDITOR: MARTHE PONCIN / PRODUCTION CO: PRODUCTIONS CORNIGLION-MOLINIER / PRINT SOURCE: MINISTÉRE DES AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÉRES (PARIS) / RIGHTS: LES GRANDS FILMS CLASSIQUES

‘This quasi-surreal spoof of Edwardian England and Sherlock Holmes is a mad delight, full of off-beat and anarchistic humour. An all-star cast is headed by Michel Simon as the head of a bourgeois family—by day, an eccentric botanist, by night the writer of crime stories inspired by his daughter, who hears them from her lover, the milkman. Louis Jouvet is the hypocritical vicar who is convinced that detective story writers are potential murderers and brings Scotland Yard onto the scene. Out of the mêlée emerges William Kramps (Jean-Louis Barrault), a comical homicidal killer who loves animals but frightens the botanist out of his wits.’ PFA

Wed 11 Jun 6.00pm / Cinema A and Sun 15 Jun 3.00pm / Cinema B

Production still from Boy’s School

Les Disparus de Saint-Agil (Boy’s School) 1938 All ages
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, OPTIPHONE, 100 MINUTES, FRANCE, FRENCH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: CHRISTIAN-JAQUE / SCRIPT: JACQUES PRÉVERT, JEAN-HENRI BLANCHON / ORIGINAL STORY: PIERRE VÉRY / CINEMATOGRAPHER: MARCEL LUCIEN / EDITOR: WILLIAM BARACHE / PRODUCTION CO: DIMECO PRODUCTIONS / PRINT SOURCE: MINISTÈRE DES AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÈRES (PARIS) / RIGHTS: PATHÉ DISTRIBUTION

Boy’s School is an atmospheric comedy-thriller with dark elements of fantasy and mysticism.  It is a film which vividly contrasts the naïve romanticism of young boys with the cruelty and materialism of men and is simultaneously an entertaining and disturbing work.  The cinematography helps create a sense of mystery and tension which doesn't let up until the very end of the film, although some subtle comedy provides relief along the way. Particularly impressive are the three young stars of the film,  Serge Grave, Marcel Mouloudji and Jean Claudi, who are each as believable as they are enchanting in the roles of the three who disappeared at the school of St-Agil.’ James Travers

Wed 11 Jun 4.00pm / Cinema A and Sat 14 Jun 3.00pm / Cinema B

Production still from Port of Shadows

Le Quai des Brumes (Port of Shadows) 1938 All ages
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 91 MINUTES, FRANCE, FRENCH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: MARCEL CARNÉ / SCRIPT: JACQUES PRÉVERT / ORIGINAL STORY: PIERRE DUMARCHAIS / CINEMATOGRAPHER: EUGEN SCHÜFFTAN / EDITOR: RENE LE HENAFF / PRODUCTION CO: CINÉ-ALLIANCE / PRINT SOURCE: MINISTÈRE DES AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÈRES (PARIS) / RIGHTS: TAMASA DISTRIBUTION

‘A melancholy poem of life and death in the lower depths of Le Havre. Gabin projects stubborn dignity and deep weariness as Jean, a deserter from the French colonial army who arrives one foggy night at an otherworldly waterfront dive. There he encounters a variety of underworld characters, including a beautiful, troubled young woman (Michèle Morgan), who, like Jean, dreams of some kind of escape—from the past, from the shadowy streets, and from her sinister guardian, unsettlingly played by Michel Simon. Eugen Shufftan's atmospheric cinematography matches the lyrical pessimism of Prévert's dialogue; figures come and go in the nocturnal mist, moments of violence or unexpected generosity interrupting their fundamental solitude.’ PFA

Fri 20 Jun 7.00pm and Sun 22 Jun 1.00pm / Cinema A

Production still from Daybreak

Le Jour Se Lève (Daybreak) 1939 All ages
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 93 MINUTES, FRANCE, FRENCH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: MARCEL CARNÉ / SCRIPT: JACQUES PRÉVERT / ORIGINAL STORY: JACQUES VIOT / CINEMATOGRAPHERS: PHILIPPE AGOSTINI, ANDRE BAC, ALBERT VIGUIER, CURT COURANT / EDITOR: RENE LE HENAFF / PRODUCTION CO: SIGMA, VAUBAN PRODUCTIONS / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: MINISTÉRE DES AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÉRES (PARIS)

‘Marcel Carné and Jacques Prévert 's classic of French poetic realism stars Jean Gabin in one of his most famous roles as François, a rough, barrel-chested loner who hides out in his apartment awaiting for the police to arrive. François has killed a man in a crime of passion, the slimy lothario Valentin (Jules Berry). As he listens in the darkness of his Normandy apartment to the police sirens closing in and getting louder, he recalls the two women that he loved — Françoise (Jacqueline Laurent) and Clara (Arletty) — and the evil Valentin, who stole both their hearts and forced François into this melancholy plight.’ Paul Brenner

Wed 25 Jun 4.00pm and Fri 27 Jun 7.30pm / Cinema A

Production still from The Devil’s Envoy

Les Visiteurs du Soir (The Devil’s Envoy) 1942 All ages
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 120 MINUTES, FRANCE, FRENCH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: MARCEL CARNÉ / SCRIPT: JACQUES PRÉVERT, PIERRE LAROCHE / CINEMATOGRAPHER: ROGER HUBERT / EDITOR: HENRI RUST / PRODUCTION CO: PRODUCTIONS ANDRE PAULVE / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: MINISTÉRE DES AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÉRES (PARIS)

‘This flight of fancy from director Marcel Carné and his frequent collaborator, writer Jacques Prévert, was emblematic of the escapist style of the period. Set in the fifteenth century, the film features Arletty as one of a pair of deceased lovers sent back to earth by the Devil to intervene in the courtship of two aristocrats. Complications arise as one of the envoys falls for the betrothed princess, much to the Devil’s discontent. Prévert intended the character of the Devil to be a direct representation of Hitler, a veiled allusion that necessitated the period setting. As a result, Carné was able to employ a lavish visual style while remaining critical of contemporary politics.’ Harvard Film Archive

Wed 18 Jun 4.00pm and Sat 21 Jun 2.30pm / Cinema A

Production still from Children of Paradise

Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise) 1943 All ages
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 190 MINUTES, FRANCE, FRENCH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: MARCEL CARNÉ / SCRIPT: JACQUES PRÉVERT / CINEMATOGRAPHERS: MARC FOSSARD, ROGER HUBERT / EDITORS: HENRI RUST, MADELEINE BONIN / PRODUCTION CO: PATHÉ CINÉMA / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: MINISTÈRE DES AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÈRES (PARIS)

‘A powerful romantic drama set against the backdrop of the Parisian stage in the mid-nineteenth century, Children of Paradise remains one of the most beloved films of the French cinema. Jacques Prévert’s screenplay fleshes out the demi-monde realm of actors and courtesans, cutthroats and aristocrats with the naturalistic vitality of a Victor Hugo or Honoré de Balzac. The central action takes place in a small theatre on the infamous "Boulevard du crime," where Baptiste Debureau (Barrault), a sensitive mime, falls hopelessly in love with Garance (Arletty), an actress who is courted by three more successful suitors. From this enchanting love story, Prévert and Marcel Carné weave an imaginative web of reality and artifice, using the stage as a metaphor for life.’ Harvard Film Archive

Fri 6 Jun 6.00pm, Sat 7 June 1.00pm and Sun 8 Jun 1.00pm / Cinema A

Production still from Gates of the Night

Les Portes de la Nuit (Gates of the Night) 1945 All ages
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 100 MINUTES, FRANCE, FRENCH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: MARCEL CARNÉ / SCRIPT: JACQUES PRÉVERT / CINEMATOGRAPHER: PHILIPPE AGOSTINI / EDITORS: JEAN FEYTE, MARTHE GOTTIE / PRODUCTION CO: SOCIETE NOUVELLE PATHÉ CINÉMA / PRINT SOURCE: MINISTÉRE DES AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÉRES (PARIS) / RIGHTS: PATHÉ DISTRIBUTION

’Scripted by Marcel Carné's long-time collaborator Jacques Prévert, Gates of the Night is set in Paris just after its liberation from the Nazis. The script points out that this was not only a time for rejoicing, but a period of guilt and remorse, especially for those who cooperated with the Nazis, overtly or otherwise. In one of his first starring roles, Yves Montand plays a former member of the French underground who carries on a furtive romance with the wife (Nathalie Nattier) of a wealthy man. Others essential to the action are Sergi Reggiani as a snivelly informer and Christian Simon as a ubiquitous (and obviously symbolic) street musician. A box-office disappointment in France, Gates of the Night did better abroad.’ Hal Erickson

Sun 22 Jun 3.00pm and Wed 25 Jun 6.00pm / Cinema A

Production still from The Seine Meets Paris

La Seine a Rencontré Paris (The Seine Meets Paris) 1957
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 30 MINUTES, FRANCE, FRENCH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: JORIS IVENS / SCRIPT: JACQUES PRÉVERT, JORIS IVENS, GEORGES SADOUL / CINEMATOGRAPHERS: PHILIPPE BRUN, ANDRÉ DUMAÎTRE / EDITOR: GISÈLE CHÉZEAU / PRODUCTION CO: GARANCE FILM / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: EUROPEAN FOUNDATION JORIS IVENS

‘The first film Joris Ivens made when he returned from Eastern Europe is a film poem about Paris and Parisian life on the borders of the Seine River. The film follows the flow of the river through the city of Paris, making a portrait of this city and its people living, strolling, sun-bathing, fishing, working, swimming, loving and laughing beside the Seine. The poem written by Jacques Prévert gives the film an extra dimension, and the music, with the recurring theme of a children song, gives it a melancholic touch.’ European foundation Joris Ivens

Thu 12 Jun 12 noon (with It’s In The Bag) and Fri 13 Jun 6.00pm / Cinema A

Production still from The King and the Mockingbird

Le Roi et l'oiseau (The King and the Mockingbird) 1980 All ages
35MM, COLOUR, MONO, 83 MINUTES, FRANCE, FRENCH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES)
DIRECTOR/EDITOR: PAUL GRIMAULT / SCRIPT: JACQUES PRÉVERT, PAUL GRIMAULT / ORIGINAL STORY: HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN / CINEMATOGRAPHER: GERARD SOIRANT / PRODUCTION CO: ANTENNE-2, GIBÉ FILMS, PAUL GRIMAULT FILMS / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: MINISTÉRE DES AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÉRES (PARIS)

‘A triumph of animation for children and adults, this engaging story was adapted from the fairytale The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep by Hans Christian Andersen. Director Paul Grimault worked with Jacques Prévert to create the wit, humour, and political nuances that enliven the story each step of the way. The tale is set in the kingdom of Takicardie where a beguiling young shepherdess has fallen in love with a charming chimney sweep, and he reciprocates her feelings honourably and completely. Enter the king who wants the shepherdess for himself. A mockingbird, well aware of the situation, helps the lovers out -- until he and the chimney sweep are captured and thrown into the lion's den. Now the two of them have a real challenge on their hands if they want to save the shepherdess and defeat the king.’ Eleanor Mannikka

Fri 13 Jun 2.00pm, Sat 14 June 2.00pm and Sun 15 Jun 2.00pm / Cinema A