Early in his career which is filled with over 70 films, he became known as a sort of French Hitchcock with a twist. The suspense of his films is undeniable, but just when you expect the very worst to happen — Chabrol normally replaces “horror” with the simple shock of truth.
The truth of his work and his admiration for exceptional camera work and respect for truly great actors sear into the viewer’s minds. No matter how old his films might be — they hold a still valid mirror to our world. And, that mirror is cracked. Chabrol always seem to identify with the Communist Ideals, but his films were filled with an obvious mistrust of human nature. His characters (and their stories) are always presented for what they are. Seldom are the actions of these characters fully explained. Unlike most filmmakers, Chabrol challenged his audience to think. Interestingly, I think it is his later work starting in the 70’s that fully expressed his gifts as an artist. Unlike most artists, old age did not dim his view of humanity or society. In my opinion some of his final films were his most powerful. It is hard to wipe away the images and off-kilter humor and ultimate horror of these two films:
But, my personal favorite Chabrol film is MERCI POUR LE CHOCOLAT. Huppert, who seemed to serve as a sort of muse for Chabrol, has never been better cast. And, it is sheer brilliance of the surprise that this quiet little film’s most powerful scene is played at the very tail end of the movie as the credits roll.
There will never be another talent like that of Claude Chabrol. A vital, valid and valuable artist until the very end. He never lost his bite or twisted sense of humor — nor did he ever lose his youthful struggle against the tide of an unjust society/world. If you’re not familiar with his work, you should be. The posters I selected or just a few exceptional examples of his work, but he seldom misfired.
Claude Chabrol Rest In Peace. He will not be forgotten by those of us who love cinema and the power it can generate.
“I’m not pessimistic about people in general, but only about the way they live.”
“I love mirrors. They let one pass through the surface of things.”