Marcel CarnÃ© (18 August 1906 â" 31 October 1996) was a French film director. A key figure in the poetic realism movement, CarnÃ©'s best known films include Port of Shadows (1938), Le Jour Se LÃ¨ve (1939), The Devil's Envoys (1942) and Children of Paradise (1945), the latter of which is often cited as one of the greatest films of all time.
Born in Paris, France, the son of a cabinet maker whose wife died when their son was five, CarnÃ© began his career as a film critic, becoming editor of the weekly publication, Hebdo-Films, and working for CinÃ©magazine and CinÃ©monde between 1929 and 1933. In the same period he worked in silent film as a camera assistant with director Jacques Feyder. By age 25, CarnÃ© had already directed his first short film, Nogent, Eldorado du dimanche (1929). He assisted Feyder (and RenÃ© Clair) on several films through to La kermesse hÃ©roÃ¯que (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 CarnÃ© to take over his project, Jenny (1936), as its director. The film marked the beginning of a successful collaboration with surrealist poet and screenwriter Jacques PrÃ©vert. This collaborative relationship lasted for more than a dozen years, during which CarnÃ© and PrÃ©vert created their best remembered films. Together, they were involved in the poetic realism film movement of fatalistic tragedies.
Under the German occupation of France during World War II, CarnÃ© 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 CarnÃ©'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 PrÃ©vert 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, CarnÃ©'s reputation was in eclipse. The critics of Cahiers du cinÃ©ma, who became the film makers of the New Wave, dismissed him and placed his film's merits solely with PrÃ©vert. Other than his 1958 hit Les Tricheurs, CarnÃ©'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, CarnÃ© was the Head of the Jury at the 6th Berlin International Film Festival. His 1971 film Law Breakers was entered into the 7th Moscow International Film Festival. CarnÃ© made his last film in 1976.
CarnÃ© 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.
In 1989 a book was published by Edward Baron Turk as part of the Harvard Film Studies that told his story under the title Child of Paradise: Marcel CarnÃ© and the Golden Age of French Cinema.
Marcel CarnÃ© died in 1996 in Clamart, Hauts-de-Seine, and was buried in the CimetiÃ¨re Saint-Vincent in Montmartre.
Partial filmography as director
- Nogent - Eldorado du Dimanche 1929
- Jenny (1936)
- DrÃ´le de drame (1936)
- Le Quai des brumes (1938)
- HÃ´tel du Nord (1938)
- Le Jour se lÃ¨ve (1939)
- Les Visiteurs du soir (1942)
- Les Enfants du paradis (1945)
- Les Portes de la nuit (1946)
- La Marie du port (1949)
- Juliette ou La clef des songes (1951)
- ThÃ©rÃ¨se Raquin (1953)
- L'Air de Paris (1954)
- Les Tricheurs (1958)
- Terrain vague (1960)
- Trois chambres Ã Manhattan (1965)
- Les Jeunes loups (1968)
- Les Assassins de l'ordre (1971)
- La Merveilleuse visite (1973)
- La Bible (1976)
- They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?
- Marcel CarnÃ© at the Internet Movie Database
- Marcel Carne a tribute website
- Marcel Carne Bibliography (via UC Berkeley