“Passion, curiosity, in the rather difficult times that we live in, are weapons against ignorance. Weapons of massive construction ”, the French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier launched to the public when in 2016 he presented his acclaimed documentary ‘The films of my life’.
This Thursday, March 25, Tavernier passed away at the age of 79 in Saint-Maxime, in Provence. France thus loses a seventh art scholar who turned the big screen into his own “weapon of mass construction.”
With more than thirty films of international prestige behind him, among them ‘Life and nothing else’, ‘Today it all begins’ or’ Beyond justice “, Tavernier summed up his style with a humble phrase: ” I make a cinema for share ” .
His prolific work was awarded four Césars, a BAFTA in 1990, and multiple awards from the Venice, Berlin, and San Sebastian festivals. In 1984 he received one of the most prestigious distinctions on the French film scene, being awarded in the category of best director at the Cannes Film Festival for his drama ‘A Sunday in the Country’.
The French filmmaker turned historical and social issues into the raison d’être of his cinema. Son of the poet and member of the Resistance during World War II, René Tavernier, the paternal influence was key in the construction of his work: assuming an important social commitment and fleeing from the errors of his father. ” My father wasted his talent . I did many things to differentiate myself from him: I work a lot, I don’t like dining out,” he said in an interview in 1999, as the newspaper Le Monde recalls today .
The story and its aftermath
“I wanted to enter the world of cinema from a very young age, it was an unconscious way of separating myself from my father and having my own domain […] I wanted to make films because suddenly I wanted to learn and understand something,” explained Bertrand Tavernier on the France antenna Culture in April 2020.
His prolific creation reflects his predilection for history and its sequels . ‘The Passion of Beatrice’ occurs during the Hundred Years War between France and England; the First World War frames ‘Life and nothing else’ and ‘Captain Conan’; the documentary ‘The War without a Name’ illustrates the Franco-Algerian conflict between 1954 and 1962; and ‘Salvoconducto’ narrates how the destinies of two men crossed during the Occupation in 1942.
The humanist Tavernier, an inescapable filmmaker of the last three decades, always defended the survival of cinema in the Hexagon. “I think that French cinema is still in crisis. But, at the same time, he is in full creative health with a wide variety of films.
Directors continue to fight and the landscape has changed since the arrival of Netflix or Amazon. French cinema is constantly buried: but those who bury it die before it! ”, He summed up in 2019 during a radio broadcast devoted to music in the cinema.
Throughout his long career, the French filmmaker was not carried away by fads and passing recurrences. “He practiced cinema as he discovered and defended it,” Le Monde summarizes . With voracity [he recorded almost one movie a year] and eclecticism , moving with greater or lesser success from one genre to another ”.
Insatiable, his passion and curiosity made him a true builder of the seventh art.