mercoledì 9 novembre 2016

Raoul Coutard (L'Homme à la caméra)

When, this morning, my radio alarm woke me up, the 8 am news voice announced Trump’s victory at the US Elections. 
I was still under the blankets, outside it was raining, it was surely cold, and I really couldn’t think about a decent reason to move and get out from where I was. 
After few minutes, the same voice announced the death of Raoul Coutard, the historical cinematographer of almost all the film-makers of the Nouvelle Vague era.
At this point - I said to myself - I’ll stay in bed all day!

On the set of À bout de Souffle - Godard, Coutard and Belmondo
Raoul Coutard was born in 1924 and he became a war photographer during the Indochina War (he lived in Vietnam for 11 years). Back to Paris, he started to freelancing for magazines like Paris Match and Look. He entered into the cinema world - quite incidentally - in 1956: he was hired as a cinematographer on a movie while he was convinced his job was just to take production stills! 
But his breakthrough is dated 1959 and it is called… À bout de Souffle! His collaboration with Jean-Luc Godard has been the most prolific of his career. They have worked together constantly between 1959 and 1967. What they did on their first movie, though, was the beginning of a revolution, with people filming in the streets of Paris, while until that moment the cinema was exclusively shot in studios. Coutard also worked on many François Truffaut’s movies : Tirez sur le pianist, Antoine et Colette, Jules et Jim, La Peau Douce et La Mariée était en noir, but also with Jacques Demy on his first magnificent film, LolaHe was a real master of both colour (think about Le Mépris!) and black & white (Jules et Jim!!!).
On the set of Le Mépris in Capri, with Godard
On the set of Lola by J. Demy with A. Aimée
While searching for pictures of Coutard to accompany this post, I realized that in almost all of them he has a camera in his hands, and very often he is in weird or even dangerous places to shoot! 
Le vrai homme à la camera, no doubt, c’était lui… 
With J. Demy on the set of Lola, Nantes
Filming of À bout de souffle in the streets and on the roofs of Paris
On the set of Tirez sur le Pianiste by F. Truffaut
On the set of Antoine et Colette with F. Truffaut
And this is the famous "générique parlé" at the beginning of Le Mépris: the guy behind the camera, is Coutard. 
The only reason why I woke up today, was writing about him in this post.

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