Rene Clair

Rene Clair

French film director
Date of Birth: 11.11.1898
Country: France

  1. Biography of René Clair
  2. The Success of "Un Chapeau De Paille D'italie"
  3. Innovative Comedies and Experimentation
  4. Move to England and the United States
  5. Later Works and Legacy

Biography of René Clair

René Clair (11.11.1898 - 15.03.1981) was a French film director. Born as René Chomet, he was the son of a soap merchant and developed a passion for theater and poetry from an early age. After World War I, he wrote critical articles and appeared in films by L. Feyada and Y. Protazanov. In 1923, he created the fantasy comedy "Paris Qui Dort" (Paris Asleep) based on his own screenplay. In 1924, he directed the short film "Entr'acte" for the Dadaist ballet "Relâche." The film's ironic observations and logical montage solutions, along with its experiments with movement, set it apart from purely formalistic explorations.

The Success of "Un Chapeau De Paille D'italie"

Clair's subsequent films, such as "Le Fantome Du Moulin Rouge" (The Phantom of the Moulin Rouge, 1925) and "Le Voyage Imaginaire" (The Imaginary Voyage, 1926), did not achieve much success. However, they already explored the theme of the disparity between dreams and reality, with episodes of dreams serving as early examples of the protagonist's cinematic monologue. The success of the adaptation of the vaudeville play "Un Chapeau De Paille D'italie" (The Italian Straw Hat, 1927) marked the happiest period of Clair's career, during which he became a leading director in French cinema.

Innovative Comedies and Experimentation

Clair's comedies, such as "Les Deux Timides" (Two Timid Souls, 1928), "Le Million" (1931), "Sous Les Toits De Paris" (Under the Roofs of Paris, 1930), "Quatorze Juillet" (Bastille Day, 1933), and satirical works like "A Nous La Liberte" (Liberty for Us, 1932) and "Le Dernier Milliardaire" (The Last Billionaire, 1934) continued to showcase his original experiments with sound, music, and visuals. Gradually, a distinctive world of Clair's characters emerged, representing the most characteristic types of the interwar period.

Move to England and the United States

After an attempted fascist coup in 1934, Clair moved to England and later, with the onset of World War II, to the United States. His films from 1936 to 1945, such as "The Ghost Goes West" (1935), "The Flame Of New Orleans" (1941), and "I Married A Witch" (1942), remained witty and professional but lost some of their originality and charm.

Later Works and Legacy

After the war, Clair returned to France and directed films like "Le Silence Est d'Or" (Silence Is Golden, 1947), "La Beauté Du Diable" (Beauty and the Devil, 1950), and "Les Belles De Nuit" (Beauties of the Night, 1952). However, his humorous yet melancholic reflections on the absurdity of the world, the blindness and selfishness of individuals who lose the joy of present existence due to illusions, did not receive an adequate response from audiences and critics despite his extraordinary skill and original ideas. Clair's later films, such as "Les Grandes Manoeuvres" (The Grand Maneuver, 1955), "Porte De Lilas" (Gate of Lilacs, 1957), and "Tout L'Or Du Monde" (All the Gold in the World, 1961), exude lyrical tenderness and romanticize the lives of Parisian outsiders and those who struggle to find their place in a consumption-driven world.

Clair's final film, "Les Fêtes Galantes" (The Amorous Holidays), was released in 1965. Known for his humorous and stylized films, shot in elaborate sets, Clair remains a symbol of the most successful period of French cinema, during which it preserved its independence and originality. In 1960, he became a member of the French Academy, being the first filmmaker to receive such an honor.