Jump to content

Marcel Carné

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Marcel Carné
Carné in 1950
Marcel Albert Carné

(1906-08-18)18 August 1906
Paris, France
Died31 October 1996(1996-10-31) (aged 90)
Clamart, France
Years active1936–1976

Marcel Albert Carné (French: [maʁsɛl albɛʁ kaʁne]; 18 August 1906[1] – 31 October 1996) was a French film director. A key figure in the poetic realism movement, Carné's best known films include Port of Shadows (1938), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Les Visiteurs du Soir (1942) and Children of Paradise (1945); the latter has been cited as one of the great films of all time.


Born in Paris, France, the son of a cabinet maker whose wife died when their son was five,[2] Carné began his career as a film critic, becoming editor of the weekly publication, Hebdo-Films,[3] and working for Cinémagazine and Cinémonde between 1929 and 1933.[4] In the same period he worked in silent film as a camera assistant with director Jacques Feyder. By age 25, Carné had already directed Nogent, Eldorado du dimanche (1929), his first short film. He assisted Feyder (and René Clair) on several films through to La kermesse héroïque (1935).

Feyder accepted an invitation to work in England for Alexander Korda, for whom he made Knight Without Armour (1937), but made it possible for Carné to take over his project, Jenny (1936), as its director.[4] The film marked the beginning of a successful collaboration with surrealist poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert. This collaborative relationship lasted for more than a dozen years, during which Carné and Prévert created their best remembered films. Together, they were involved in the poetic realism film movement of fatalistic tragedies; Ginette Vincendeau said that "the movement's greatest classics are probably Marcel Carné's Le Quai des brumes in 1938 and Le Jour Se Lève in 1939."[5]

Under the German occupation of France during World War II, Carné worked in the Vichy zone where he subverted the regime's attempts to control art; several of his team were Jewish, including Joseph Kosma and set designer Alexandre Trauner. Under difficult conditions they made Carné's most highly regarded film Les Enfants du paradis (Children of Paradise, 1945) released after the Liberation of France. In the late 1990s, the film was voted "Best French Film of the Century" in a poll of 600 French critics and professionals. Post-war, he and Prévert followed this triumph with what at the time was the most expensive production ever undertaken in the history of French film. But the result, titled Les Portes de la nuit, was panned by the critics and a box-office failure and was their last completed film.

By the 1950s, Carné's reputation was in eclipse. The critics of Cahiers du cinéma, who became the film makers of the New Wave, dismissed him and placed his films' merits solely with Prévert.[6] Other than his 1958 hit Young Sinners (Les Tricheurs), Carné's postwar films met with only uneven success and many were greeted by an almost unrelenting negative criticism from the press and within members of the film industry. In 1958, Carné was the Head of the Jury at the 6th Berlin International Film Festival.[7] His 1971 film Law Breakers was entered into the 7th Moscow International Film Festival.[8] Carné made his last film in 1976.

Carné was openly homosexual. Several of his later films contain references to male homosexuality or bisexuality. His one-time partner was Roland Lesaffre, who appeared in many of his films.

Edward Baron Turk has published a biography of Carné titled Child of Paradise: Marcel Carné and the Golden Age of French Cinema.[9]

Marcel Carné died in 1996 in Clamart, Hauts-de-Seine, and he was buried in the Cimetière Saint-Vincent in Montmartre.

Filmography as director[edit]


  1. ^ "Article in French explaining the trouble of the date of birth of Marcel Carné". Archived from the original on 2009-10-13. Retrieved 2009-03-01.
  2. ^ Gary Arnold "Vaults: Remembering Marcel Carne", Archived 2011-06-07 at the Wayback Machine The Washington Times, 9 August 2009
  3. ^ Riding, Alan (1 November 1996). "Marcel Carne, Film Director, Dies at 90". New York Times.
  4. ^ a b Richard Roud "Marcel Carné and Jacques Prevert" in Roud Cinema: A Critical Dictionary: Volume One, Aldrich to King, London: Secker & Warburg, 1980, p.189-92, 189, 191
  5. ^ Vincendeau, Ginette (May 7, 2019). "How the French birthed film noir". Sight and Sound. British Film Institute.
  6. ^ Gilbert Adair and Mike Goodridge Obituary: Marcel Carné, The Independent, 1 November 1996
  7. ^ "6th Berlin International Film Festival: Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2009-12-25.
  8. ^ "7th Moscow International Film Festival (1971)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 2014-04-03. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  9. ^ Turk, Edward Baron (1992). Child of Paradise: Marcel Carné and the Golden Age of French Cinema. Harvard film studies. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674114616. OCLC 924961039.
  10. ^ Michel Pérez (1986). Les Films de Carné. Ramsay Poche Cinema. p. 175. ISBN 2-84114-010-5.

External links[edit]