31 August 1925|
Cunlhat, Puy-de-Dôme, France
|Died||11 January 2003
Maurice Pialat (French: [pjala]; 31 August 1925 – 11 January 2003) was a French film director, screenwriter and actor noted for the rigorous and unsentimental style of his films. His work is often described as being "realist", though many film critics acknowledge that it does not fit the traditional definition of realism.
Life and career
Pialat originally intended to become a painter, but met with little success. Having acquired a camera at age 16, he tried his hand at documentary films before making his first notable short, L'Amour existe, in 1960.
Pialat came to filmmaking late. He directed his feature-length debut, 1969's L'Enfance Nue (The Naked Childhood) at the age of 44. The film, which was co-produced by French New Wave director François Truffaut, won the Prix Jean Vigo.
During his 35-year career, Pialat completed only ten major features, many of which—most notably Loulou—have been interpreted as being autobiographical. He directed Gérard Depardieu in four films: Loulou, Police, Sous le soleil de Satan (Under the Sun of Satan), for which Pialat won the Palme d'Or at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival, and Le Garçu in 1995.
In a posthumous tribute written for the French film magazine Positif, critic Noël Herpe referred to Pialat's style as "a naturalism that was born of formalism". In English-language film criticism, he is often compared to his American contemporary John Cassavetes.
Summarizing Pialat's stance as a filmmaker in a profile for Film Comment, critic Kent Jones wrote: "To say that Pialat marched to the beat of a different drummer is to put it mildly. In fact, he didn't really march at all. He ambled, and fuck anybody who got it into their head that they'd like to amble along with him. Or behind him. Or ahead of him."
The films of Maurice Pialat are often noted for their loose yet rigorous style and for their somewhat elliptical editing, which emphasizes an unsentimental worldview. Describing the unique aesthetics of Pialat's work, film critic Kent Jones wrote: "Even more than Jean Eustache [...] Pialat was an irascibly private artist, charting a twisted, crook-backed path with each new movie, almost always emerging with works in which the mind-bending vitality of immediate experience trumps all belief systems, allegiances, plans. [...] More than Cassavetes, more than Renoir, Pialat wanted every frame of celluloid bearing his name to be marked by the here and the now. [...] He was always willing to bend his narratives around experience. And the frequent ruptures, discontinuities, perspective shifts, and ellipses in his work are less single-minded than those of Cassavetes, more far-reaching in their implications."
Pialat's work is marked by the use of long takes, which often feed from sudden peaks of dramatic intensity in character interaction. He also played supporting roles in some of his movies.
- L'Enfance Nue (Naked Childhood) (1968)
- La maison des bois (TV series) (1971)
- Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble (We Won't Grow Old Together) (1972)
- La Gueule ouverte (1974) (The Mouth Agape)
- Passe ton bac d'abord (Graduate First) (1979)
- Loulou (1980)
- À nos amours (To Our Loves) (1983)
- Police (1985)
- Sous le soleil de Satan (Under the Sun of Satan) (1987)
- Van Gogh (1991)
- Le Garçu (1995)
Short films (selected)
- L'Amour existe (1960)
- Janine (1961)
- Maître Galip (1962)
- Jardins d'Arabie (1963)
- Byzance (1964)
- Pehlivan (1964)