Claude Chabrol L’Artisan
What they’re talking about is Le Gall’s Claude Chabrol L’Artisan, the documentary he made in 2002 while Chabrol was filming La Fleur du mal. Originally available on the French DVD of that film, Le Gall’s ‘focus’ is a little hazy. Clocking in at fifty-one minutes (and, from what I can tell, Sundance is running the complete version), it’s a patchwork affair giving lip service to Chabrol’s early days on Cahiers du cinema and Le Beau Serge, his first feature. From that point it essentially bypasses everything until 1994’s L’Enfer. That Le Gall fails to mention Stéphane Audran, Chabrol’s ex-wife and lead actress for over ten years, is no small lack of consideration.
There are interview clips scattered throughout, several with Chabrol, a few with Isabelle Huppert. Le Gall’s other talking head participants, however, will be familiar only to those with an advanced education in recent European cinema. No subtitles are supplied to identify who these people are, so a lot of viewers will be left in the dark. I recognized François Cluzet without makeup, but how many others share in my familiarity with screenwriter Caroline Eliacheff and producer Marin Karmitz? There’s an interesting chap shown sitting at a table pontificating on Chabrol’s aesthetic, but damned if I know who he is.
A noticeable gap in narration implies that Claude Chabrol L’Artisan has been trimmed from a larger work. And viewers who don’t speak French may be dismayed by the white, often illegible subtitles. As the synopsis says, it’s no career study. But Le Gall isn’t entirely successful in the attempt to show us how Chabrol’s films mirror the man’s traits and personality. We’re tossed a few scraps, but little else.
Claude Chabrol L’Artisan will be rebroadcast on the Sundance Channel on March 22, 26, 28 and 31.