The Dardenne Brothers at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival
21 April 1951 |
Luc: 10 March 1954
Brothers Jean-Pierre Dardenne (born 21 April 1951 in Liège, Belgium) and Luc Dardenne (born 10 March 1954 in Liège, Belgium) are a Belgian filmmaking duo. They write, produce and direct their films together.
The Dardennes began making narrative and documentary films in the late 1970s. They came to international attention in the mid-1990s with La Promesse (The Promise). They won their first major international film prize when Rosetta won the Palme d'Or at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.
In 2002, Olivier Gourmet won Best Actor at Cannes for the Dardennes' Le Fils (The Son) In 2005, they won the Palme d'Or a second time for their film L’Enfant (The Child), putting them in an elite club, at the time, of only seven. Their film, Le silence de Lorna (Lorna's Silence), won Best Screenplay at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and was released in Europe in the fall. Their latest film The Kid with a Bike won the Grand Prix at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and received eight Magritte Award nominations. Jean-Pierre has been announced as the jury president for the Cinéfoundation and Short Films sections of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
Creators of intensely naturalistic films about lower class life in Belgium, brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne have created a notable body of work since 1996. With La promesse (The Promise) (1996), Rosetta (1999), Le fils (The Son) (2002), and L’Enfant (The Child) (2005), the Dardennes’ films show young people at the fringes of society – immigrants, the unemployed, the inhabitants of shelters. Both Rosetta and L’enfant were awarded the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, the only two Belgian films ever to earn the honor.
The Dardennes were born and raised in Seraing in Liege, in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium. Jean-Pierre (born in 1951) studied drama while Luc (born three years later) studied philosophy. In 1975 they established Derives, the production company that produced the roughly sixty documentary films they made before branching into feature films. These films covered such topics as Polish immigration, World War II resistance, a general strike in 1960 . Their first two feature films, however, are rarely seen today: Falsch (1987) and Je pense a vous (1992), which Luc would later describe as an "unfortunate adventure."
The Dardennes had their first major success with La promesse (The Promise) in 1996.
With Rosetta the Dardennes turned their focus to the burdens – philosophical, spiritual, psychological – of unemployment. Émilie Dequenne, who had not acted in film before, and was awarded the Best Actress Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, is the title character, a young woman living with her alcoholic mother in a trailer park. The film is about Rosetta's search for purpose and to Rosetta purpose can only be found through work – she makes her way through Seraing's fringes for the most menial of positions; she catches fish in the muddy, murky stream by her trailer park. Rosetta was the first Belgian film ever to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes, coming in ahead of films by David Lynch, Pedro Almodóvar, Takeshi Kitano, and Raoul Ruiz. The film provided some impetus for a labor law designed to protect young workers like Rosetta shortly after the film's release. "’[I]t was pure chance,’ Jean-Pierre insists. ‘There was already a bill going through, and the minister took advantage of our award to call it the Rosetta Law. But we never intended to get laws changed.’ Luc adds: ‘Of course, we always hope our films will speak to people, disturb them, but we never hoped to change the world’."
Crimes and occupations again figure prominently in the Dardennes’ fourth film, L’Enfant (The Child). The film earned the Dardennes the Palme d'Or from Cannes, their second in seven years. L'Enfant won the André Cavens Award in 2005, making directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne fourth time winners of the award.
The Dardenne brothers have a regular stable of collaborators (for all of their films the brothers share writing and directing credits), including cinematographer Alain Marcoen and editor Marie-Hélène Dozo. Jérémie Renier played Igor in La promesse, Bruno in L’Enfant, and Guy in Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike), while Olivier Gourmet, the main character of Le fils, has a brief cameo as a detective in L’Enfant. Like Rosetta's Emilie Dequenne, Déborah François, the seventeen-year-old lead in L’Enfant, was appearing in her first film. Luc Dardenne has described their process of working with actors as follows: "What we do with the actors is also very physical. The day filming begins we do not feel obliged to do things exactly the way they were rehearsed; we pretend that we are starting over from zero so that we can rediscover things that we did before. The instructions we give the actors are above all physical. We start working without the cameraman—just the actors and my brother and me. We walk them through the blocking, first one then the other, trying several different versions. They say but do not act their lines. We do not tell them what the tone of their lines should be; we just say that we will see once the camera is rolling. At this point there is no cameraman, no sound engineer, no lighting. Then we set up all the camera movements exactly and the rhythm of the shot, which is usually a long take. Doing it this way allows us the ability to modify the actors’ movements or any small details."
The Dardennes often employ handheld cameras and use available light.
- Chant du rossignol (1978)
- Lorsque le bateau de Léon M. descendit la Meuse pour la première fois (1979)
- Pour que la guerre s'achève, les murs devaient s'écrouter (1980)
- R... ne répond plus (1981)
- Leçons d'une université volante (1982)
- Regarde Jonathan/Jean Louvet, son oeuvre (1983)
- Il court... il court le monde (1987)
- Falsch (1987)
- Je pense à vous (I Think of You) (1992)
- La promesse (The Promise) (1996)
- Rosetta (1999) won the Palme d'Or at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival
- Le fils (The Son) (2002)
- L’Enfant (The Child) (2005) won the Palme d'Or at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival
- Dans l'Obscurité (Darkness) (2007)
- Le silence de Lorna (Lorna's Silence) (2008)
- The Kid with a Bike (Le Gamin au vélo) (2011)
- 1999 Palme d'Or
- 2005 Palme d'Or
- 2005 Grand-Cross of the Order of the Crown (Belgium)
- 2008 Film Award Cologne within the Cologne Conference
- 2011 Grand Prix (Cannes Film Festival)
Further reading 
- Luc Dardenne Au dos de nos images, éditions du Seuil, Paris, 2005 (a philosophical diary about the making of his films and the one of his brother)
- Feuillère, Anne. "Dardennes take on Le silence de Lorna.". Retrieved 2008-03-22.2007. Cineuropa, 10 October 2007.
- West, Joan M., West, Dennis. "Taking the Measure of Human Relationships: An Interview with Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne." Cineaste, Summer 2003, Vol. 28, Issue 3.
- Bickerton, Emilie. "The Art and Politics of the Dardenne Brothers." Cineaste, Spring2006, Vol. 31, Issue 2.
- Ansen, David. "An awakening." Newsweek, 30 June 1997, Vol. 129, Issue 26.
- Kauffmann, Stanley. "In a Cruel City." The New Republic, 26 May 1997, Vol. 216, Issue 21.
- Cunneen, Michael. "Films take on the big issues power and faith." National Catholic Reporter, 12/03/99, Vol. 36, Issue 6.
- Smith, Gavin. "Promises Fulfilled." The Village Voice, 8 June 1999, Vol.
- Johnstone, Sheila. "The secret of the Dardenne brothers' Palme d'Or success." The Independent, 17 March 2006.
- Hoberman, J. "Acts of faith." The Village Voice, 8 January 2003, Vol. 48
- Scott, A.O. "A Father and the Boy Who Killed His Son." New York Times, 28 September 2002, Vol. 152 Issue 52255
- Klawans, Stuart. "The Wild Child." The Nation, 10 April 2006, Vol. 282 Issue 14.
- Wolfreys, Jim. "Reality Bites." Socialist Review, December 2008, Issue 331.
- Mai, Joseph, "Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne". University of Illinois Press, 2010 ISBN 978-0-252-07711-1
- Crano, R.d., "Furtive Urbanism in the Films of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne," Film-Philosophy 13.1, April 2009.
- Sebastiano Gesù (ed.), Etica ed estetica dello sguardo. Il cinema dei fratelli Dardenne, Catania 2006
- Jean-Pierre Dardenne at the Internet Movie Database
- Jean-Pierre Dardenne at AllRovi
- Jean-Pierre Dardenne at Rotten Tomatoes
- Luc Dardenne at the Internet Movie Database
- Luc Dardenne at AllRovi
- Luc Dardenne at Rotten Tomatoes
- Committed Cinema: The Films of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne; Essays and Interviews
- Filmjourney.org: Interview with the Dardennes
- Interview with Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, directors of Lorna’s Silence with David Walsh on the World Socialist Web Site