BENOIT JACQUOT

BENOIT JACQUOT

Director, screenwriter & stage director, France

Presentation

“When it comes to making films, all means are good for me. Nothing stops me! […] If I didn’t make movies, if I didn’t always have a film to write, to shoot or edit, you might as well lock me up...”

Cineaste. “I’m a real reader. And since I chose to be a cineaste and not an author – it really was a choice – books understandably play an important role in my projects.”

Critic. “Critics are the written resonance of our desires: that’s very moving. An old French tradition – which comes from literature – says that all critics are thwarted novelists. Or frustrated filmmakers. […] I like those who passionately love cinema, to the point of making it the center of their lives. I’m in collusion with them.”

Influence. “What moves me in cinema or elsewhere? You could go back to Racine: I am immediately moved by any of Racine’s alexandrines. His very concerted rhythm takes on a tragic register, which goes back to the dawn of time and which overwhelms me. I could also cite a certain type of Hollywood melodrama. But ultimately, when I think about it, I think the filmmaker who most influenced me through his tone, or maybe the register, is Mizoguchi. He never ceased to stay in the melodrama genre, but with a bearing, a loftiness which no doubt belongs as much to Japan as to cinema itself.”

Melodrama. “I don’t just wake up one fine day and say to myself, ‘I’m going to make a melodrama.’ That said, I wanted to tackle sentimental territory, the territory of the heart, head-on and without flinching. I wanted to go all the way with my feelings, and at the end is where melodrama lies, or even tragedy.”

Modernity. “[For a period film or a contemporary film,] I don’t say to myself that I’m going to film differently. The distances, the approaches, and the angles are not necessarily the same. The light is not the same in the 18th century as in the 21st, nor is the way of dressing – or of undressing. But I’ve always made sure, even when my films are set in a bygone period, that they have a maximum of modernity.”

Screening. “I’m always very attached to the screening and very attached to the idea of going to see films. I couldn’t be any other way: I have only ever known cinema that way, that’s the way I like it, and that’s how I practice it. There’s an unshakeable substrate: cinema means a projection in a theater for several people, or even for no one.”

Shooting. “Because I shoot rapidly means that I have to give my actors lots of freedom. And the constraint of speed is such that it is enough to frame things. It allows one to attain a sort of reality. I’m not much of a believer in rehearsals.”

Spectator. “What happens rarely in life, happens in cinema, and that’s what makes the spectator believe. It works even better if, according to the principle set out by Hitchcock in his interviews with Truffaut, you give the spectator a head start over the characters. As a result, if the film works, the spectator feels an anxiety which is the core of suspense. The suspense fuels the melodrama, and vice-versa.”

“It only takes a ray of light on a screen in a theater for cinema to exist.”

 

Selected Filmography

Director

1975 THE MUSICIAN KILLER (L’Assassin musicien) *
1977 CLOSET CHILDREN (Les Enfants du placard) *
1981 THE WINGS OF THE DOVE (Les Ailes de la colombe) *
1985 LOST WITH ALL HANDS (Corps et biens) *
1987 THE BEGARS (Les Mendiants) *
1990 THE DISENCHANTED (La Désenchantée) *
1995 A SINGLE GIRL (La Fille seule) *
1997 SEVENTH HEAVEN (Le Septième Ciel) *
1998 THE SCHOL OF FLESH (L’École de la chair)
PAR COEUR – doc
1999 KEEP IT QUIET (Pas de scandale) *
THE FALSE SERVANT (La Fausse Suivante)
2000 SADE
2001 TOSCA
2002 ADOLPHE *
2004 RIGHT NOW (À tout de suite) *
2005 THE UNTOUCHABLE (L’Intouchable) */**
2008 VILLA AMALIA */**
2009 DEE P IN THE WOODS (Au fond des bois) *
2011 FAREWELL, MY QUEEN (Les Adieux à la reine) *
2014 THREE HEARTS (3 Coeurs) *

Scénariste | Screenwriter

1979 RETOUR À LA BIEN-AIMÉE Jean-François Adam
1987 BUISSON ARDENT Laurent Perrin

Stage director 

2004, 2010 & 2011
WERTHER – opéra de Jules Massenet
2014 LA TRAVIATA – opéra de Giuseppe Verdi

also screenwriter

** also producer