› Wednesday, February 8, 2017
In its 62nd edition, Seminci is preparing a round table and a mini-cycle around the figure of Jean-Pierre Melville. The round table will be titled The Silence of the Sea and the Red Circle: Melville, master of the Nouvelle Vague and European detective films and will involve, among other international experts in the work of the French filmmaker, film writer José Francisco Montero, author of the book titled Jean-Pierre Melville. Chronicles of a samurai, the most comprehensive study to date on the French director, and Laurent Grousset, co-organiser of the centenary, producer, nephew and collaborator of Jean-Pierre Melville, both of whom will discuss the most important parts of his work based on these two films. From this look at history transformed by the time of his films set in the period of the Occupation, to the narrative and formal construction of a universe that seems to feed on itself, reformulating and subverting classicism in his detective films.
Jean-Pierre Melville began his career in 1946, only months after the end of the French Occupation, with the short titled Vingt-quatre heures de la vie d’un clown; however, he attained his first major achievement (in fact, one of his greatest works) with his next film, The Silence of the Sea, which he started shooting in 1947, but only managed to premiere two years later. After The Terrible Children (1950) and Quand tu liras cette lettre (1953), Melville made his first detective film with Bob le flambeur (1955), a genre that was to bring him his greatest successes and impose the most enduring image of his work and privileged position in European detective films, with works such as The Finger Man (1963), Breathless (1966), The Samurai (1967), and The Red Circle (1970), a genre he was not to leave until his latest film, A Cop, shot in 1972, a year before his untimely death, with the exception of two new incursions into the period of the Occupation, Léon Morin, Priest (1961) and, in particular, Army of Shadows (1969), one of the peaks of his career.
The mini-cycle will be titled “Jean-Pierre Melville. Of loneliness, silence and ritual” and will include the screening of the DCP remastered copies of six of his most emblematic films, along with his first and only short.
- Vingt-quatre heures de la vie d’un clown (France, 1946). Melville’s first work, a short film of 22 minutes, in which he tells the story of a day in the life of Beby the clown. A work that is neither well known nor widely seen.
- The Silence of the Sea (France, 1949). This film is set in the period of the Occupation and represented the beginning of a unique way of doing and feeling cinema. A film made with a desire for independence, far from conformism, routine and vulgarity. Considered a forerunner of the Nouvelle Vague.
- Le Doulos (France-Italy, 1962). The part of the most personal, austere and rigorous stage of his work. A film with which Melville strides along the road to extreme stylisation and abstraction.
- Le deuxième soufflé (France, 1966). A vigorous, solid, tragic and twilight work. Another step in the evolution towards the existential blackness of his later films.
- The Samurai (France-Italy, 1967). The most radical of Melville’s films. From the asceticism of the staging to the opacity of the narrative, the most representative stylistic features of his films reached unparalleled heights.
- Army of Shadows (France-Italy, 1969). This is the culmination of the vision around the Occupation offered by Melville’s films. One of the best films ever made about the Resistance and one of the author’s greatest works.
- The Red Circle (France, 1970). Melville’s last but two feature films and one of his noir peaks, a poetic summary of all his detective films. A film in which characters and situations prototypical of the genre come together in a brilliant story.
The next edition of the International Film Festival of Valladolid (21-28 October) adds these two initiatives to the tribute to the figure of Melville organised by the French Institute, like other international film festivals such as Sundance, Cannes, Venice, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and Mar del Plata, among others.