Jean-Claude Carrière @ 80

A celebration of (and a few updates on) the legendary actor, novelist and screenwriter.
David Hudson

Last week, David Bordwell posted "a brief tribute to the volcanic charm of the legend known as JCC." Brief, maybe, but as always with David Bordwell, necessary in ways you may not have realized until you've read it. Today, as Jean-Claude Carrière — actor, novelist and screenwriter probably best known for his work with Luis Buñuel, though he's also written screenplays for Godard, Oshima, Malle, Forman, Wajda and Jonathan Glazer (and that's just scratching the surface) — turns 80, two paragraphs from this must-read:

JCC entered cinema under the aegis of Jacques Tati. Tati wanted someone to turn M. Hulot's Holiday and Mon Oncle into novels, and the very young writer seemed the right candidate. But Tati quickly learned that JCC didn't know how a film was made. So he assigned Pierre Etaix and the editor Suzanne Baron to tutor the lad in the ways of cinema. First lesson: Go through M. Hulot on a flatbed viewer, examining the script line by line while watching shot by shot. As a result, JCC says, he began to understand "the film that you don't see." …

Directors both young and old come to him for the unique forms of collaboration that he offers. Instead of going off to write the screenplay, JCC meets frequently with the director. (Sometimes the director stays in his house.) He might ask the director to write the script for him, and they go over the result. Through these methods, JCC tries to help the director "find the film that he wants to make." But his methods are flexible, tailored to the director's temperament. When he was working with Buñuel, the men met daily to tell each other their dreams, some of which wound up in The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972). Similarly, JCC prefers to meet with the actors before production, letting them try out the parts so that he can revise things for each one's habits of speaking. For [Cyrano de Bergerac (1990)], Depardieu read the entire play aloud, taking all the parts, and then listened to it over and over on cassettes to refine his interpretation.

"Iranian director Mohammadreza Khaki plans to stage Jean-Claude Carrière's The Terrace, an absurd comedy highlighting the inanity of life at the end of the modernist era," reports the Tehran Times. "The play will be performed at the main hall of Tehran's City Theater Complex in the fall." And PressTV reports that Carrière and Juliette Binoche will be attending a ceremony in October marking the Iranian premiere of Abbas Kiarostami's Certified Copy, in which, of course, both appear. Kiarostami's Shirin sees its premiere in Iran this month and Ramin Rahimi, distributor for both films, notes that neither have been allowed to be shown in the country before now: "Certified Copy will be screened after a slight modification is made to the hijab of its French lead actress Juliette Binoche."

In May, the Guardian ran an extract from This Is Not the End of the Book, a conversation between Carrière and Umberto Eco.

Interviews with Carrière: Mikael Colville-Andersen in 1999, John Whitley for the Telegraph in 2002 (the topic: Chaplin's The Great Dictator [1940]), Paul Taylor for the Independent in 2003 (on the occasion of "the British premiere of Carrière's 1970s play, L'Aide-Memoire (translated as The Little Black Book), a humorously haunting, psychologically and metaphysically tricksy two-hander") and Fabien Lemercier.

And, some time back, Flickhead posted Carrière's long and fond remembrance of Buñuel.

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