He passed away in his sleep, without suffering any illness, at the age of 89. A discreet disappearance for this insatiable storyteller, author of 80 books, passionate about astrophysics, wine and martial arts. Jean-Claude Carrière, one of the most prolific screenwriters of the past sixty years, whose name appears alongside some of the greatest contemporary filmmakers and directors, was not, however, destined for this immense career. “I worked on all forms of writing. I think I have a good arsenal. There is something in me that is satisfied to be at the service of an author, to flow into his thought, to adapt it as best as possible. I have no ego ”, he assured.
“I admire the solitude of a Kundera or a Le Clézio but I like to talk”, he confided to Release in 1999
With him, this “in the service of” did not mean behind but with, untangling the threads of the impasses of the story, enhancing the dialogues. He not only built his notoriety through his works but also through his numerous appearances on television or his radio interventions where he defended his humanist point of view and his concern for the environment. He was at the same time a chronicler, lecturer, educator, modern encyclopedist but above all a talented storyteller eager for transmission. “I admire the solitude of a Kundera or a Le Clézio but I like to talk”, he confided to Release in 1999. “As Bunuel said, I am a small peasant who marvels at everything that happens to him”, he added.
“As Bunuel said, I am a small peasant who marvels at everything that happens to him”
He was born in Colombières-sur-Orb, in the Hérault, on September 17, 1931 in a family of wine growers. In 2013, he told in our columns. “I am a pure product of the education system of the III e Republic. My two teachers asked me to get a scholarship because I was doing well at school. There was not a book or a picture at home… There was also an uncle, by marriage, a teacher, who guided me in his library. He would say to me: “You can read everything, except that, that and that…” Obviously, as soon as his back was turned, I read the bans. And he knew it very good. “
Already, the proofs of his curiosity and his appetite for knowledge are there. In 1945, his family moved to the Parisian suburb of Montreuil, taking over the management of a café. The brilliant student ends up integrating Normale Sup. This is his first novel, Lizard, published in 1957 in general indifference, which indirectly brings him to the cinema, after a detour of twenty-eight months as called in Algeria. His editor, Robert Laffont, introduced him to Jacques Tati and his assistant, Pierre Étaix. With the latter, in 1963 he shared the Oscar for short film for Happy Birthday, written and performed together. The circus filmmaker and the screenwriter become inseparable (the Sighing, Yoyo, As long as one has health, the Great Love).
The scenario as a working document destined to end up in the trash
He has set foot in the seventh art and is firmly anchored in the landscape. His meeting with Luis Bunuel in the early 1960s was decisive. They adapt the novel the diary of a chambermaid, by Octave Mirbeau, in 1964 . Five other films follow, including the legendary Belle de jour, the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie and That Obscure Object of Desire. During this prolific companionship, Carrière also signs scripts for Louis Malle (Viva Maria and thief), Jacques Deray (the Pool, Borsalino and A man died), Milos Forman (Taking Off), Marco ferreri (Liza), Patrice Chereau (the flesh of the orchid) and Volker Schlöndorff (the drum, palme d’or in 1979). We have seen worse to put his words into pictures. He enjoys a beautiful critical and public aura. Carrière knows how to put oil in the wheels. He adapts, invents, dust, densifies, cuts to best serve the story and its director, considering the script as a working document destined to end up in the trash once the film is finished.
The 1980s begin as the previous decade ended. On the wheel caps. He works with Jean-Luc Godard for Sauve qui peut (la vie), again with Volker Schlöndorff (the Forger), participates in the monument of Andrzej Wajda, Danton, and won the scenario Caesar with the Return of Martin Guerre, by Daniel Vigne, in 1983. In addition to his writing activities, he also directed from 1986 to 1996 Femis, the new training school for film professions, replacing the dying Idhec. Not enough to lead him to slow down.
In 1985, his adaptation of the river poem from Hindu mythology, the Mahâbhârata, directed by Peter Brook in a nine-hour show, electrifies the Festival d’Avignon. Carrière does not forbid any genre. His talent continues to attract filmmakers. Nagisa Ôshima for Max my love, Philipp Kaufmann for The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Milos Forman for Valmont. He tames Rostand’s masterpiece, Cyrano de Bergerac, directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau. This visceral atheist questions the religious excesses in the novel the Valladolid Controversy, which then goes from the theater to the small screen. In his last writings, we owe him collaborations with Atiq Rahimi and Philippe and Louis Garrel, a sign that his paw had not finished fascinating filmmakers.