Claude Chabrol


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6.5 Le Beau Serge (1958)
6.5 Les Cousins (1959)
6.0 A Double Tour (1959)
7.2 Les Bonnes Femmes (1960)
5.0 Les Godelureaux (1961)
6.0 L'Oeil du Malin (1962)
5.0 Ophelia (1963)
5.0 Landru (1963)
5.0 Le Tigre Aime la Chair Fraiche (1964)
6.0 La Tigre Se Perfume À La Dynamite (1965)
5.0 Marie-Chantal Contre le Docteur Kha (1965)
5.0 La Ligne de Demarcation (1966)
5.0 Le Scandale (1967)
5.5 La Route de Corinthe (1967)
6.9 Les Biches (1968)
6.9 La Femme Infidele (1969)
7.2 Que la Bete Meure (1969)
7.2 Le Boucher (1970)
6.9 La Rupture (1970)
6.9 Juste Avant la Nuit (1971)
5.0 La Decade Prodigieuse (1971)
6.0 Dr Popaul (1972)
5.0 Les Noces Rouges (1973)
5.0 Nada (1974)
5.0 Une Partie de Plaisir (1975)
6.0 Les Innocents aux Mains Sales (1975)
5.0 Les Magiciens (1976)
5.0 Folies Bourgeoises (1976)
6.5 Alice ou la Derniere Fugue (1977)
6.0 Les Liens de Sang (1978)
6.5 Violette Noziere (1978)
5.0 Le Cheval d'Orgueil (1980)
5.0 Les Fantomes du Chapelier (1982)
5.0 Le Sang des Autres (1984)
6.0 Poulet au Vinaigre (1985)
6.0 Inspecteur Lavardin (1986)
6.9 Masques (1987)
5.0 Le Cri du Hibou (1987)
6.5 Une Affaire de Femmes (1988)
5.0 Jours Tranquilles a Clichy (1990)
5.0 Docteur M (1990)
5.0 Madame Bovary (1991)
6.5 Betty (1992)
6.0 L'Enfer (1994)
7.0 La Ceremonie (1995)
6.0 Rien ne va Plus (1997)
6.5 Au Coeur du Mensonge (1999)
6.5 Merci pour le Chocolat (2000)
5.0 The Flower of Evil (2003)
6.5 La Demoiselle d'Honneur (2004)
5.0 L'Ivresse du Pouvoir (2006)
7.0 La Fille Coupee en Deux (2007)
5.5 Bellamy (2009)
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If English is your first language and you could translate my old Italian text, please contact me. Claude Chabrol (France, 1930) esordi` come critico nei "Cahiers du Cinema".

Il melodramma rurale fortemente autobiografico, e ispirato dal cristianesimo, Le Beau Serge (1958) rivelò in Claude Chabrol un fine ritrattista della provincia borghese (un ragazzo tubercolotico torna al paese natale dove cerca invano di aiutare una coppia di amici il cui matrimonio è in crisi, fino a trascinare lui ubriaco al capezzale della moglie partoriente, per la nascita di un mongoloide, compromettendo le proprie speranze di guarire).

Les Cousins (1959) capovolse l'assunto, presentando un serio giovane di provincia che va a stabilirsi a Parigi in casa di un cugino decadente e piano piano si lascia coinvolgere nelle tresche coltivando un odio crescente verso il cinico cugino; tenta di ucciderlo, ma il fucile fa cilecca; il giorno dopo il cugino scherza con l'arma che crede scarica e lo uccide) e introdusse tracce di suspence alla Hitchcock.

L'amore per Hitchcock (già dichiarato in uno scritto del 1957) lo spinse a girare il poliziesco A Double Tour/ Web of Passion (1959), il suo primo thriller, in cui uno psicotico uccide l'amante del padre e fa accusare il fidanzato della sorella. Tutti si spiano nell'incertezza di chi è l'assassino (padre, madre, figlio, figlia).

Due film schematici e freddi centrati su un perfido che vive soltanto per distruggere:

Les Godelureaux/ Wise Guys (1960): un perfido vuol vendicarsi di un rivale facendolo innamorare di una ragazza;

Les Bonnes Femmes/ The Good Girls (1960) racconta il dramma di quattro ragazze tenute prigioniere nel negozio di un bruto e una megera, che cercano in modo diverso modo la libertà: ciascuna resta insoddisfatta dell'uomo che si sceglie e la più timida e fragile si affida a un motociclista che alla prima occasione la strangola. Chabrol compiange il fato delle poverine e introduce il tema dell'omicidio sessuale (l'impulso primitivo a possedere e distruggere) attorno a cui ruotano diversi suoi film.

L'omicidio sessuale e` il tema di L'Oeil du Malin/ The Third Lover (1962): un fallito accolto da una coppia felice scopre che lei ha un "affaire", la ricatta e, al suo rifiuto, la denuncia al marito che la uccide. Da questo momento il giallo diventa la specialità di Chabrol.

Ophelia (1963) is an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Hamlet".

L'omicidio sessuale e` anche il tema del semicomico Landru/ Bluebird (1963), ispirato da una leggenda popolare.

Le Tigre Aime la Chair Fraiche (1964) e La Tigre Se Perfume À La Dynamite/ Our Agent Tiger (1965) sono spionistici alla James Bond. Nel secondo un agente segreto sgomina con acrobatiche e astute trovate una banda in procinto di lanciare un attacco contro il mondo] primo di una serie di mediocri film spionistici. Marie-Chantal Contre le Docteur Kha (1965) e` il terzo della trilogia di spy thrillers. La Ligne de Demarcation/ Line of Demarcation (1966) is yet another a spy thriller. La Route de Corinthe/ The Road to Corinth/ Who's Got the Black Box (1967), a spy thriller that was meant as a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock, is unusual in Chabrol's career for its cartoonish overtones and incoherent plot.

The customs officials arrest a magician who is carrying a mysterious electronic box. The experts realize that the box is capable of disabling all the radars of the USA. The magician commits suicide while being tortured.
The USA assigns the case to an agent who starts his mission in Greece. He is welcome by is colleague Dex, who apparently used to date his fiance, the sexy blonde Shanny. One day the agent tells Shanny that he found the power plant where the boxes are manufactured. Minutes later Shanny finds him dead in bed. Abandoned and betrayed even by Dex, Shanny is convincted of the murder.
When she is released (just a few months later), she is approached by a man who informed the dead man: he is still available, for the same amount of money. Determined to avenge his death, Shanny decides to continue his investigation. Everybody, including Dex, tries to discourage her. After roaming in vain the city, she is randomly picked up in the street by a rich old pervert in a limo who shows her a porno movie in the car and then offers her a huge amount of money to sleep with him in his sumptuous villa: it's the same amount that she needs to pay the informer. The man cuts the banknotes in half to make sure that she sticks to the deal. Shanny takes that half of the banknotes and runs away. Then she meets the informer and uses the same trick: gives him the banknotes cut in half. He has barely time to tell her where to look that three priests stab him to death. Promising sex to a young man, she gets into the mysterious plant, but the boss of the gang recognizes her and is about to kill her, but she and the young man manage to escape. Shanny tells Dex what she found out, but Dex is skeptic, especially when the young man does not materialize (he has been killed by the boss). Nonetheless Dex helps Shanny enter the plant that manufactures imitation of antiquities, but inside one of them Shanny finds one of the electronic boxes. The boss and his guards chase them to kill them for good. Eventually the boss kidnaps Shanny and takes her to a desert island, where he explains to her that he is planning to conquer the world. She uses sex one more time to free herself, just when Dex has found them (with a helicopter that someone landed silently). Dex kills the boss. The USA is safe. Now that she avenged her fiance's death and that she proved her innocence, Shanny decides to return to the USA. All the other passengers on the plane are priests, just like the ones who tried to kill her. And the last one is Dex himself.

Le Scandale/ The Champagne Murders (1967), giallo Hitchcock-iano nell'alta finanza: l'erede di un impero convalescente da un esaurimento presso due amici pensa di essere l'assassino di due ragazze, e viene assecondato da lei, che ne approfitta per guidare il suo impero, ma quando anche lei viene uccisa si scopre che l'omicida è la segretaria-amante di lui, anch'egli intento a manipolare l'erede.

Les Biches/ The Does (1967) tratta di un rapporto a tre, con una bisessuale che seduce l'uomo di cui si è innamorata la sua ragazza-protetta fino alla scena di gelosia in cui è la ragazza ad uccidere la bisessuale che la vuole lasciare per mettersi con l'altro. Economia, precisione, geometria. Abbandona il barocco.

Un altro thriller alla Hitchcock, La Femme Infidèle/ The Unfaithful Wife (1969), tratta di un delitto di gelosia (il marito uccide l'amante della moglie) con sullo sfondo una sordida alleanza fra marito e moglie, lui per non farsi arrestare, e lei per difendere il proprio matrimonio; ma alla fine lui viene arrestato.

Que La Bête Meure/ The Beast Must Die (1969), based on a novel by Cecil Day-Lewis, is a thriller on the instict of revenge, but also about self-sacrifice, reminiscent of ancient Greek tragedy. The protagonist who has only one mission in life (to kill the man he hates) finds another, higher goal (to confess the killing to save another victim of the man he hates). The film's ending is ambiguous: we don't learn who the killer is, only who claims to be the killer.

A man drives at high speed into a town where the child is returning all happy from the beach. The car hits the child and kills him. The woman sitting next to the driver screams but the driver tells her to shut up and drives away. The film then moves on to the child's father, Charles, who is driving in a taxi and taking a note in a diary: he says that he will kill a man, a man he doesn't know. The driver remarks that a child was killed in that street three months earlier. The man drops off at his house, and is pleased that the housekeeper has cleaned and improved the house. She bursts out crying but he tells her that they should never talk about the dead child other than in the present tense. He writes in his diary that he is determined to find the killer, no matter how long it will take. Alone at home, he watches videos of happy moments with his wife and his child. The cops interrupt him. They have informed all the garages of the region to report if a car comes in for repairs, but so far there is no news. Charles suspects that the killer is an experienced mechanic who repaired the car himself. He personally visits car-repair shops and asks about the part that must have been damaged. He writes in his diary that he is desperate because he found no clues, but he hopes that chance will help him. One day he gets stuck in a muddy country road. The man who comes to see what happened tells him that the last car to get stuck there was a sports car, on the night when Charles' child was killed. The car was damaged. The driver was a man and the passenger was an actress, who was crying. Charles immediately suspects that they drove the car on purpose in the mud to wash away the blood. The man doesn't remember her name but his son tells Charles that her name is Helene. Charles tracks her down and pretends to be a screenwriter, Marc. He keeps writing his thoughts in the diary. He takes her on several dates and she figures out that he is no screenwriter. Then he pretends to be in love with her and seduces her, which seems very easy. They make love and he cooks breakfast for her. He makes her talk and she mentions that her sister's husband Paul owns the biggest car-repair shop in the region. He loses his temper when she grabs a toy that belonged to his child, slaps her in the face and almost strangles her. He persuades her to join him on a road trip to visit her sister Jeanne and Paul. They live in a 15-room country house. While waiting for Paul, Charles/Marc meets Jeanne's teenage son Philippe and Paul's friends Jacques and Anna. When Paul arrives, the mood changes and Charles can tell that Paul is an arrogant and insensitive. He insults his wife in front of everybody and mocks her amateurish poetry. His wife is embarrassed but too weak to protest. Paul also yells at his son, who runs to his room full of hatred. Charles asks to visit Paul's car-repair shop. He witnesses Paul hitting Philippe and follows the boy. Philippe somehow reads his thoughts and tells him that if he, Charles, will not kill Paul, he, Philippe, will. Later Charles guesses that Helene too slept with Paul. While Paul and Charles are chatting on a cliff, Paul slips down the ravine and begs Charles for help. Charles initially grabs a stone to finish him, but then saves him. Philippe stares at Charles disappointed. Later, in bed, even Helene scolds Charles for saving Paul, telling him that Paul deserves to die. Charles writes in his diary that his plan is to take Paul on a boat and then fake an accident, knowing that Paul can't swim. Meanwhile, Charles becomes the father that Philippe never had, even helping him with homework. Paul helps Charles buy a boat and Charles invites him to test it with him. Charles has prepared a trap for Paul, but Paul has prepared a trap for Charles: when Charles is about to cause the accident, Paul pulls out a gun and tells Charles that he has read the diary, knows his intentions, and has left the diary with his lawyer with the instructions to deliver it to the police in case of an accident. Charles swears in his face to kill him. Paul tells him to leave immediately. Charles and Helene pack and drive away. They stop at a restaurant and Charles finally confesses to Helene that he is the father of the boy who was run over that night. He admits that initially he only wanted to use her to get to Paul (all of this while a waiter is dismembering a roasted chicken in front of them). Just then they hear the news that Paul has died from poisoning. They return immediately to the house where the police suspect Charles: they already have his diary, in which he clearly states that he wants to kill Paul. Charles's defense is that he is not so stupid to kill Paul knowing that he would be the suspect, but the cop thinks that it is precisely what he wants the police to think, and the cop even thinks that Charles left the diary for Paul to find it, and therefore arrests him. But Philippe confesses that he is the killer.
Charles is released and rejoins Helene at a hotel. He doesn't tell her anything, claiming he needs to sleep. In the morning he is gone. Helene finds a note on the bed in which Charles confesses that he is the real killer and Philippe has confessed to save him. Now it's Charles to confess in order to save Philippe. It is also a goodbye letter as Charles plans to disappear forever. And, while she is reading the note, we see that Charles sails away on the boat (Of course, it could also be that he is lying to save Philippe).

Le Boucher/ The Butcher (1970) e` uno dei suoi gialli psicologici piu` profondi. Chabrol costruisce suspense in sequenze oniriche, quando il tempo sembra fermarsi e la natura assume toni minacciosi.
Al thriller si unisce l'incubo privato di Helene, che ha il terrore di essere tradita di nuovo da un uomo. Lui non la tradisce, anzi le e` fedele fino all'ultimo. E forse cio` le lascia un senso di colpa: forse e` stata la sua frigidita` a causare quelle morti, perche' se lei fosse stata umana con lui, forse lui sarebbe stato umano con gli altri. Più horror e psicopatico. Più hitchcockiano,

A una festa di matrimonio in un paese di campagna si incontrano un macellaio, Popaul, veterano dell'esercito, e una donna emancipata, la maestra Helene, e lui inizia un corteggiamento a base di pezzi di carne. La polizia intanto sta indagando sull'assassinio di una ragazza. Helene non ha avuto una relazione da dieci anni dopo essere stata abbadonata dal ragazzo di cui era molto innamorata. La maestra porta i bambini in gita a visitare le grotte e scoprono il cadavere di un'altra donna, la sposina della prima scena. Accanto al cadavere la maestra trova un accendino identico a quello che aveva regalato al macellaio. Ma, interrogata dalla polizia, nasconde il fatto. Per nulla timorosa, lascia entrare in casa il macellaio quando si presenta di notte. E scopre cosi` che ha ancora l'accendino. Ne e` sollevata. Il macellaio si comporta sempre come un brav'uomo. Si offre persino di dipingere l'aula decrepita della scuola. Mentre e` solo nell'aula scopre per caso l'acendino... e` turbato, se lo mette in tasca. Trovano un altro cadavere: il misterioso maniaco continua a colpire donne. Helene scopre che l'accendino e` scomparso dal cassetto. Vive da sola al piano superiore della grande scuola. E` domenica e non c'e` nessun altro. La donna fa in tempo a chiudere tutte le imposte che Popaul si presenta a chiedere di parlarle. Lei rifiuta di aprire, ma lui penetra egualmente nella scuola. E` davvero lui l'omicida. Le fa vedere l'arma del delitto, ma invece di uccidere anche lei se lo conficca nella pancia. Lei, invece di chiamare la polizia, lo soccorre e lo porta in ospedale. Arrivati in ospedale, le chiede di baciarlo, e lei lo bacia, intenerita dalla sua fedelta`. E poi lui si spegne, con il suo nome sulle labbra.

La Rupture/ The Breach (1970): una donna separata si rifugia in una pensione, spiata da tre vecchie pettegole, dove il marito tossicomane, tramite un sicario, cerca di sottrarle il bambino, deve lottare da sola, ma alla fine lui muore.

Juste Avante La Nuit/ Just Before Nighfall (1971), grottesco: un marito uccide involontariamente l'amante in un gioco erotico, ma per puro caso non lascia tracce; potrebbe farla franca, ma, ossessionato dal rimorso, confessa prima alla moglie e poi al marito dell'amante; entrambi lo perdonano e lui allora decide di costituirsi, ma la moglie, per salvare la famiglia, lo avvelena.

La Decade Prodigeuse/ Ten Days Wonder (1971), based on the Ellery Quinn novel, un milionario, sua moglie e l'amante figlio adottivo sono al centro di spaventosi avvenimenti che culminano nella morte dei due amanti e con il suicidio dell'assassino].

Dr Popaul (1972) is a comedy that was his biggest commercial success yet.

Les Noces Rouges (1972), commedia nera e altro family-thriller; omicidio come affare privato [la moglie del sindaco imbroglione di un villaggio e il suo amante riescono a eliminare i rispettivi ridicoli consorti, ma vengono scoperti dalla figliastra del sindaco. È la serie nera, dove la normalità quotidiana viene infranta dal delitto borghese e "perbene".

Poi un periodo di scadenti produzioni internazionali come Nada (1974) e Une Partie de Plaisir (1975), dove spesso il delitto si sposta nelle classi più abbienti dei ricchi in vacanza e diventa sofisticato, da cui il successo di pubblico di Les Innocents aux Mains Sales/ Innocents With Dirty Hands (1975).

Les Magiciens (1976) is a supernatural thriller.

Folies Bourgeoises/ The Twist (1976)

Fondendo Balzac e Hitchcock, Chabrol ha dato un affresco cupo e minaccioso della piccola borghesia provinciale, intrappolata in un groviglio di meschinità, monotonia, noia, sotterfugi, pettegolezzi, vergogne nascoste, invidie, rivalità, odi; lo squallore della mediocrità e dell'ipocrisia: Chabrol disprezza con cinismo le loro ridicole angosce; sono soprattutto le bassezze morbose dell'ambiente familiare ad inquinarlo.

Alice ou la Derniere Fugue (1977) is an adaptation of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland".

Les Liens De Sang (1977): ispettore indaga sulla morte di una adolescente e scopre che l'assassina è la cugina, morbosamente gelosa del fratello che usciva con la vittima.

Il dramma storico Violette Nozière (1978) narra la turpe vicenda di una adolescente, Huppert, che, insofferente del repressivo e claustrofobico ambiente familiare, si sposa con un poco di buono, per il quale finirà per prostituirsi e per avvelenare i genitori, e al processo rivivrà in flashback l'accaduto senza riuscire a spiegare e accusata dalla madre stessa].

Le Cheval d'Orgueil/ Proud Ones (1980)

Les Fantomes du Chapelier (1982)

Le Sang des Autres (1984)

Poulet au Vinaigre/ Chicken With Vinegar (1985)

Inspecteur Lavardin (1986), poliziotto aspro e sarcastico ma rigorosamente etico, tanto da salvare la giovane assassina, rea di aver ucciso un ipocrita bigotto che celava una vita privata depravata (la provincia in apparenza pulita che nasconde storie luride e rivoltanti), e incriminare unn boss corrotto e corruttore.

Masques (1987): il presentatore di una trasmissione popolare che vive un'esemplare vita privata viene smascherato dal suo presunto biografo, fratello di una delle sue vittime: è un assassino, di cui governante, figlia adottiva etc. sono complici; smascherato in diretta insulta i telespettatori che gli hanno sempre creduto.

Le Cri du Hibou/ The Cry of the Owl (1987) is based on the Patricia Highsmith novel.

The historical drama Une Affaire de Femmes/ Story of Women (1988), the tragic story of abortionist Marie-Louise Giraud, the last woman executed in France, ideally forms a trilogy on rebellious women with Violette Noziere (1978) and Madame Bovary (1991).

Jours Tranquilles a Clichy (1990)

Docteur M (1990)

Madame Bovary (1991) is an awful adaptation of Flaubert's novel.

The bleak Betty (1992) is an adaptation of Georges Simenon's novel.

L'Enfer/ Hell (1994) is his version of Henri-Georges Clouzot's unfinished film of 1964.

La Ceremonie/ A Judgment in Stone (1995) is one of his best.

Rien ne va Plus (1997)

Au Coeur du Mensonge/ The Color of Lies (1999)

Merci pour le Chocolat (2000)

La Fleur du Mal/ Flower of Evil (2003) is a minor movie that embodies all that is trivial about Chabrol's cinema.

The first scene shows a corpse and a girl crying.
Francois returns home in France after spending three years in the USA. His family is rocked by a scandal, just when Francois' stepmother Anne is running in a political election. The scandal is due to the fact that Francois' mother and Michele's father died in a car accident, and their surviving spouses got married. Francois and his cute stepsister Michele love each other (as revealed by an annoying kissing scene to those who didn't figure it out from the first mention of the name "Michele"). Francois doesn't quite explain why he left for the USA, especially since he denies running away from Michele. They finally have sex in a cottage. In the meantime Francois' father seduces teenage girls. Incest actually runs in the family, as an anonymous leaflet discloses to the entire town. The family is also suspected of collaborating with the nazis. The one who knows everything is Aunt Line. Most likely, Francois is fed up with the ways of the family. The mystery is not why he left but why he went back. Aunt Line is the only one who knows everything, and is reluctant to disclose the news of the love story to their parents. Francois' father molests Michele and Michele, after accusing him of being the author of the leaflet (to destroy his wife's political career), hits him with a lamp, killing him. Aunt Line helps her dispose of the corpse and then tells her the secret of her life: she killed her own father, who was helping the nazis corner Jews for the concentration camps. Now she volunteers to take the blame for the murder, so the two kids can be happy. Michele's mother has won the elections and the family celebrates.

La Demoiselle d'Honneur/ The Bridesmaid (2004)

L'Ivresse du Pouvoir/ Comedy of Power (2006) is a mediocre and confused film.

La Fille Coupee en Deux/ The Girl Cut In Two (2007) is instead one of his best.

The protagonist of the detective movie Bellamy (2009) is clearly modeled after Simenon's famous Maigret.

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