Sunday, September 12, 2010

Claude Chabrol Obituaries

I don't have much time to discuss the death of Claude Chabrol, but here are two of the longer obituaries that have appeared so far:

- The Guardian, by Ronald Bergan

- The Daily Telegraph

I don't have sound at the moment on my computer, so I'm watching clips of Chabrol films silent -- and in silence, it's even clearer that his debt to Hitchcock wasn't just thematic; in terms of compositions (often very tight), camera moves, and combinations of both (keeping the camera close on someone while he's walking), the Hitchcock influence is genuine, but Chabrol made the style very much his own.

This is over-generalizing, but there were arguably two approaches available to New Wave directors drunk on genre films and wanting to do something different from the well-made establishment cinema. One was to try and make a different kind of film every time, another was to try a narrower focus. Chabrol and Demy always struck me as two directors who -- while they certainly didn't make the same movie every time -- seemed to try to "brand" themselves by specializing in a certain kind of film with a certain kind of look. And of the directors of his generation, Chabrol was the most successful in branding himself while also giving himself (like Hitchcock) the freedom to make different types of movies and stories within the overall style he'd adopted.

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