Marcel Camus | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 06, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, March 08, 2015

Marcel Camus

Marcel Camus

Born in Chappes, Ardennes, France, Camus was one of the best known directors of French Cinema. Camus was on his way to becoming an art teacher when World War II broke out and spent most of it in a prisoner-of-war camp.
Soon after he entered the film industry as an assistant and technical adviser to directors Jacques Feyder, Luis Buñuel and Jacques Becker and made his first film, a short documentary called Renaissance Du Havre in 1950. Camus's work is characterized by a lyricism which, although central to his fine films of the 1950s and 60s - Fugitive in Saigon (1957), Black Orpheus (1959) and Love in the Night (1968) - later deteriorated into superficial sentimentality. Black Orpheus went ahead to win the Golden Palm at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award in 1960 for Best Foreign Language Film.
Back then, similar to many French filmmakers who were blessed with the chance of directing a feature in the post-war era, Camus decided to deal with just the issue of personal sacrifice in context of war. But unlike the others who tackled World War II as a whole, Camus just dealt with the war in Indochina. For example, Fugitive In Saigon which portrays a village caught between two fronts who's only possibility of survival involves the destruction of a dam on which it depends.
Camus then embarked on three films in collaboration with scenarist Jacques Viot. The first, Black Orpheus (1959), brought him international acclaim. The film portrays its Orpheus (Breno Mello) as a streetcar conductor who meets his Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn) and lives out his legendary destiny during the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. The next two Camus-Viot collaborations, The Pioneers (1961) and L'oiseau de paradis (1962), were generally well received, but neither lived up to the expectations created by Black Orpheus. Love in the Night (1968), an affecting portrait of nocturnal Paris, proved successful, but A Savage Summer (1970) was generally recognized as an inauthentic and superficial evocation of young people on vacation in Saint-Tropez. Camus then returned to the subject of war, this time with a gentle comedy about a Normandy restaurant owner who becomes a hero of the Resistance in spite of himself. Atlantic Wall (1970) offered a rich role for comic actor Bourvil, but was essentially a routine commercial product. Twenty years after Orfeu Negro, Camus returned to Brazilian themes for what would prove to be his last film, Bahia in 1979 (also known as Otalia da Bahia and Os pastores da noite), based a novel by Brazilian novelist Jorge Amado. Camus also did some unexceptional work for French TV. Camus later went ahead to marry one of the stars of Black Orpheus and passed away in Paris, France in 13 January 1982.

 

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