Veteran French filmmaker and New Wave-co-founder Claude Chabrol passed away in Paris this morning at the age of 80. Chabrol, like Éric Rohmer who died this past January, wrote for the Cahiers du cinéma film journal in the 1950s before making his own feature films later that decade alongside New Wave contemporaries Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, and Jacques Rivette. But while Rohmer’s late career slowed down a great deal and Godard’s oscillated between experimentation and obscurity, Chabrol continued to prove himself a particularly prolific filmmaker well after the New Wave’s late 1950s and 1960s heyday.
Often credited as one of the more accessible or “mainstream” contributors to the New Wave movement, Chabrol typically works in the thriller genre and his films often concern themselves with protagonists who have detective or other law-enforcement-related occupations as well as women in peril. Heavily influenced by Alfred Hitchcock, Chabrol entered his feature filmmaking career with the thriller Le Beau serge (1958). Other notable works of Chabrol include The Cousins (1959), Leda (1959), Les Bonnes femmes (1960), Les Biches (1968), Le Boucher (1970), Wedding in Blood (1973), Violette (1978), Masques (1987), Story of Women (1988), Madame Bovary (1991), The Color of Lies (1999), and A Girl Cut in Two (2007).
2010 has thus far been characterized by an unlikely prominence of French New Wave filmmakers in the news. From the death of Eric Rohmer at the beginning of the year to the Academy’s controversial announcement last month that they will bestow and Honorary Oscar to Godard, the careers of these important contributors to film history have been resurrected in one way or another. Chabrol’s final feature film, Bellamy starring Gerard Depardieu as the titular detective, opens in limited release October 29th from IFC Films. The trailer can be seen here.