The writer Jean-Claude Carrière is dead. Author of Luis Buñuel’s masterpieces, he is also at the origin of numerous scripts for European cinema over the past sixty years, from “Return of Martin Guerre” to “Cyrano de Bergerac”.
After training in literature and history at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Saint-Cloud, Jean-Claude Carrière predestined himself for the profession of historian. However, he decided to abandon it in favor of drawing and writing, and thus published in 1957 his first novel, The lizard. However, it is his meeting with the director and actor Pierre Etaix that will be decisive. In addition to several short films, such as Rupture (1961) or Happy Birthday (1962), the duo wrote two films: Le Soupirant and Yoyo which quickly attracted the attention of critics.
The meeting with Luis Buñuel
Deciding to pursue his career as a screenwriter, Jean-Claude Carrière becomes very present alongside Louis Malle (Viva Maria !, Le Voleur) and Milos Forman (Valmont). He was also for nineteen years the accomplice of Luis Buñuel (The Diary of a chambermaid), a collaboration that would last until the latter’s death. It was around the mid-1960s and with the return of Buñuel in Europe that Jean-Claude Carrière began to work alongside him. The birth of a friendship between the two filmmakers will allow classics of Franco-Italian cinema to exist, such as La Voie lactée (1969) or Belle de jour (1966). Carrière will also be the screenwriter of This obscure object of desire, the last production of Buñuel in 1977.
The Caesar for The Return of Martin Guerre
Extremely prolific author, the successful scenarios of Jean-Claude Carrière are countless. Among his best-known films, there are Le Tambour or Un papillon sur l’eau, which allow him to collaborate with filmmakers from all over the world. In 1983, he won his first award with the César for best original screenplay for The Return of Martin Guerre. He also made a foray into a less narrative cinema alongside Jean-Luc Godard (Sauve qui peut (la vie)) or Peter Brook (The Mahabharata), while remaining close to cinema intended for the general public, then focused on many literary adaptation projects: Cyrano de Bergerac, Le Roi des aulnes or Le Hussard sur le toit. It was his work on the adaptation of The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Philip Kaufman that won him an Oscar in 1989.
Essentially a screenwriter and writer, Jean-Claude Carrière went behind the camera in 1968 for the realization of a rather unusual short film La Pince à nails, allowing him to obtain the Grand Jury Prize for best short film at the Cannes Film Festival. 1969. He also works for the small screen by becoming the author of a dozen TV films. He also writes for the theater where he meets Jean-Louis Barrault for Harold and Maude in 1971, or Peter Brook for Carmen’s Tragedy in 1981. His remarkable career in the film industry enabled him in 1986 to obtain the post of president of Fémis, the French film school, which he held for ten years. In 2000, Jean-Claude Carrière published the autobiography of his childhood, The surly wine.
Author of a Palme d’Or
While he was able to write three to four scripts per year during the 70s, he slows down somewhat during the 90s, thus becoming more rare in the cinema. Despite everything, we find him in the credits of films such as Salsa (2000), Birth (2004) or Les Fantômes de Goya (2005) which marks his third collaboration with Milos Forman. Throughout his career, Jean-Claude Carrière spends time in front of the camera playing small roles, as in Avida presented out of competition at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, or in The Milky Way or Julie pot of glue for example.
He then participated in the White Ribbon by Michael Haneke, Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, then in two films by Philippe Garrel (L’Ombre des femmes, Le Sel des larmes) and two by his son Louis Garrel (L’Homme faithful and The Crusade). On February 8, 2021, he died in his sleep at his Parisian home, at the age of 89.