Louis Malle

Louis Malle is a French film director, screenwriter, and producer who worked in both French cinema and Hollywood, directing both French and English language films. Louis Malle is sometimes associated with the French New Wave movement, though his work does not directly fit in or correspond to the auteurist theories that apply to the work of Godard, Truffaut, Chabrol, and Rohmer; and he had nothing whatsoever to do with Cahiers du cinema. And yet his films like The Lovers (1958) and Elevator to the Gallows (1958) were released simultaneously with the other early New Wave films. For his noir-like thriller Elevator to the Gallows Malle used available light, peculiar narrative and editing techniques, a jazzy score by Miles Davis and a camera on a bicycle to follow actress Jeanne Moreau through the streets of Paris; all which were revolutionary techniques at the time. Malle also made films which tackled taboo and controversial subject matters, including The Fire Within (1963) which centered on suicide, and Murmur of the Heart (1971), which dealt with an incestuous relationship between a 14 year old son and his own mother. Over time Malle seemed to fall out of favor with French critics after marrying Candice Bergen, and for moving to the United States to make much more conventional and accessible films. His American drama Atlantic City (1980) was a masterful crime story about a aging and forgotten gangster played by the great Burt Lancaster. One of Malle’s more experimental films was My Dinner with Andre (1981) which was a smaller independent film that shared the lives of a theatre director and a movie actor. The film depicts the two discussing, debating and philosophizing various subject matters over the course of an evening meal at a restaurant. Malle’s most tragic and personal film Au revoir les enfants (1989) is based on actual events in the childhood of the director. At age 11 Malle was attending a Roman boarding school near Fontainbleau and it was discovered that his school staff and teachers were secretly taking in Jewish children and hiding them from the Nazis under assumed names. The film won multiple awards including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and it is considered to be Malle’s greatest cinematic achievement. Louis Malle is one of the most underrated film directors in the world. His career unfortunately seems to be overlooked probably because of his unbiased freedom to not stay content in one specific area, and to have instead branched out and experimented with different genres. Each film he made was completely unlike the other, and he was content to film either in the United States, India or in his native France. He once stated that he didn’t like to repeat himself and when you view the extraordinary range in his body of work, you can see that he meant it.

Louis Malle
Louis Malle Featured Films
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Articles and Essays on Louis Malle

Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987)

There is a moment in a child’s life where an instant word or action they committed was something they would immediately regret but could never take back. The reason why these moments usually happen within our childhood is because when we are younger we aren’t yet trained to think before we act. Unfortunately one of these instant […]