Cinema romantics: Claude Lelouch turns 85

Claude Lelouch is one of the most important filmmakers in France. For over 50 years he has been making stories about love, lies and intrigue. Now he is starting a final trilogy – a testament work.

Gerard is single. He is dying and his two best friends want to give him one last pleasure: to love one last time. Therefore they turn to a pimp who, moved by the story, decides to take care of Gerard personally.

With “L’amour c’est mieux que la vie” (Love is better than life), Claude Lelouch, who celebrates his 85th birthday this Sunday (October 30), has created not only the film of his youngest and 50th, but also a kind of testament.

At his age Lelouch said he was getting closer and closer to the finish line. Since a person’s last words are given great importance, he is now ready to say his last words with the cinema, the director, producer, screenwriter and actor explained in an interview for “La Voix du Nord” newspaper.

Released in French cinemas earlier this year, the comedy drama is expected to be the first in his latest trilogy. The Oscar winner wants to give some security to his offspring, especially his seven children and eight grandchildren. “When I talk to them, they don’t listen. But when I make a movie, they watch it.”

What does Lelouch want to say to you and the world? First, without love, life has no meaning. Lelouch had been married three times; his seven children come from five different relationships. Second, friendships are important. Third, things never go your way. Fourth: Money destroys the world.

Unmistakable style

Beliefs that have shaped his cinema for over 50 years. Only this time I express it even more firmly. As he said in the interview, he wants to be successful at the end of his race because the last meters are important.

Few filmmakers have created a style as unmistakable as his: stories of men and women and their lies big and small, hopes and intrigues, sometimes bitter, sometimes sky high. But he does not stay true to his subject. Lelouch also shoots over and over again with the same actors as Fanny Ardant, Anouk Aimée, Gérard Darmon and Robert Hossein.

Another trademark: a pronounced aesthetic camera angle and his enthusiasm for filmmaking. It is no coincidence that Philippe Azoulay’s documentary film, which was released a few months ago, is called “Tourner pour vivre” – returning to live.

The director was born in Paris on October 30, 1937, the son of a Jewish textile merchant. The family fled the Nazis to Nice, where the mother is said to have hidden him in a cinema. The beginning of a long fascination and enthusiasm. At the age of 17 he won the first prize. In the late 1950s he became an internationally famous director in France with documentary films and in 1966 with “A Man and a Woman”.

Engage the audience with movies

The story about a widowed racing driver brought him the two most prestigious awards worldwide: the Palme d’Or and the Oscar for best foreign language film and best original screenplay. In his more than 50-year career, he has mainly shot love stories and thrillers, as for him the latter are love dramas: full of lies, manipulations and false promises.

Be it “Live Life”, “A Happy Year”, “A Man Looking for a Woman”, “Crime Time”, “All for Love” and “The Best Years of a Life” – Lelouch rarely deviates from the principle of from the touch of the public, or as he says: “the smile between the tears”.

Sensitive, melancholic and deeply human: his style made him a “virtuoso of noble kitsch” for international specialist critics, he himself defines his work as “popular auteur cinema”. For the inside trade press, Lelouch is the ultimate romantic of French cinema.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 221025-99-255335/3

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