Claude Chabrol's films break down the dubious critical barrier between art
cinema and popular cinema. Rejecting the avant-garde and the experimental,
Chabrol chooses to work within the confines of established genres. He has in
fact filmed farce, melodrama, fantasy, war films, spy films and glossy literary
adaptations. Chabrol has excellent new-wave credentials and is in some ways a
representative figure for this innovative film movement in French cinema. For
the small budget of 32 million old francs, he was able to shoot Le Beau
Serge over nine weeks in the winter of 1957/8 and film it in what was
essentially his home village. Chabrol has known periods of great success (the
launching of the new wave in 1958, the superb Hélène cycle of the late 1960s,
including his most famous film Le Boucher for his return to form in the
1990s). He also has had periods of inactivity and failure. His depiction of the
middle classes usually concentrates on the family. Le Cri du hibou begins
as Masques ends, with a framed image from which the camera slowly tracks
back to reveal the presence of a spectator. Given that in Chabrol's cinema
women are often lacking in financial or social power, there are limits to the
ways in which they can either define themselves or escape their situation. This
is spelled out most clearly in Les Bonnes Femmes, where the potential
escape routes are sex, marriage into the bourgeoisie, a career, romance or
In the autumn of 1997, at the age of 67,
ClaudeChabrol released Rien ne va plus, his fiftieth film. The
leading French film magazine, Cahiers du cinéma, marked the occasion
with a special issue devoted entirely to his work. The editorial described
him as ‘le cinéaste français le plus productif, et peut-être le plus
“rentable”, des quatre dernières décennies’ 1 (Toubiana 1997 :4). (His achievement is all
.-L. ( 1997 ), L’Enfer, d’un film l’autre , Cahiers du cinéma, Numero spécial ClaudeChabrol (October), 92–6 .
Chevrie , M. , and Toubiana , S. ( 1986 ), Attention les yeux! Entretien avec ClaudeChabrol , Cahiers du cinéma, 381 (March), 9–13 .
Gristwood , S. ( 1990 ), Mabuse returns: Chabrol pays his respects , Sight and Sound, 59 : 2 (spring), 74 .
Jameson , F. ( 1990 ), Signatures of the Visible, London and New York , Routledge .
Jeancolas , J
why not? It can
be interesting. You’re not the only one who can write a screenplay’
Biette , J.-C , Daney , S. , Toubiana , S. ( 1982 ), Entretien avec ClaudeChabrol , Cahiers du cinéma, 339 ( September ), 5–14 .
Blanchet , C. ( 1989 ), ClaudeChabrol, Paris , Rivages .
Braucourt , G. ( 1971 ), ClaudeChabrol, Paris, Seghers : Cinéma d
ClaudeChabrol’) 15 is superimposed on a facial close-up of the two lovers.
What makes this last scene so important to the plot of the film and indeed
to an appreciation of Chabrol’s film-making technique in general, is
the nature of the camera shot used. As Julie walks on to the rug and lies
down on it, pulling her dress up over her thighs, Chabrol shoots from a high
angle not used before in the film. Moreover, he zooms in on Julie
de Baecque , A. ( 1997 ), Une part du secret: Entretien avec Michel Bouquet , Cahiers du cinéma, Num é ro spécial ClaudeChabrol ( October ), 61–5 .
Bataille , G. ( 1970 ), Œuvres complétes, II: Écrits posthumes 1922–1940 , Paris , Gallimard .
Biette, J.-C, Daney , S. , and Toubiana , S. ( 1982 ), Entretien avec ClaudeChabrol , Cahiers du cinéma, 339 ( September ), 5–14 .
Bocquet , J.-L. ( 1997 ), L’Enfer, d’un fílm l’autre , Cahiers du cinéma
, nor completely
‘What I’m after is that my films as a whole give a
very precise idea of a personal vision’
Berthomieu , P. , Jeancolas , J.-P. , and Vassé , C , ( 1995 ) Entrenen avec ClaudeChabrol , Positif, 416 ( September ), 8–14 .
Bordwell , D. ( 1979 ), The Art Cinema as a
By virtue of being Claude Chabrol's fiftieth film, Rien ne va
plus is an important auteurist landmark. Rien ne vaplus does
include self-conscious, auteunst references to Chabrol's earlier
films, such as Juste avant la nuit, Les Noces rouges and
Betty. Various interviews and reviews have quoted Chabrol's
assertion that Rien ne vaplus is his first autobiographical film.
Common with the James Bond series and Chabrol's mid-1960s work such as
the two Tigres and La Route de Connthe, Rien ne va plus
features exotic locations, elaborate scenes of pursuit and interrogation,
outlandish thugs and an eccentric crime lord. Like the archetypal Bond film,
it begins in a casino and ends in a remote, romantic hide-away. Above all,
the film refers back to Chabrol's 1965 spy spoof, Marie-Chantal
contre Docteur Kha. Like Chabrol, Victor is a professional, a craftsman,
who steers away from grandiose projects and prides himself on his