Georges Annenkov - Writer

Costume Designer. Nationality: Russian. Born: Yuri Pavlovich Annenkov in Petropavlosk, 1 June 1889; occasionally billed as George Annet. Career: Stage designer in Russia in 1910s and early 1920s; 1924—emigrated to Germany, then to France, and worked as stage and film designer. Died: In Paris, July 1974.

Films as Costume Designer:


Faust (Murnau)


Les Nuits moscovites ( Moscow Nights ) (Granowsky)


Mayerling (Litvak)


Mademoiselle Docteur (Greville); Nuits de feu (L'Herbier); Le Mensonge de Nina Petrowna (Tourjansky); Nostalgie ( The Postmaster's Daughter ) (Tourjansky)


Le Drame de Shanghaï (Pabst); Tarakanowa (Ozep)


Cavalcade d'amour (Bernard)


Pontcarral, colonel d'empire (Dellanoy); La Duchesse de Langeais (de Baroncelli)


L'Eternel Retour ( The Eternal Return ) (Delannoy)


Le Bossu (Delannoy)


Le Père Serge (Gasnier-Raymond)


La Symphonie pastorale (Delannoy); Patrie (Daquin); L'Affaire du collier de la reine (L'Herbier) (co)


La Colère des dieux (Lamac); La signora delle camelie (Gallone)


La Chartreuse de Parme (Christian-Jaque) (co); La Leggenda di Faust (Gallone)


Black Magic (Ratoff); La Valse brillante (Boyer)


Lady Paname (Jeanson) (co); La Ronde (Ophüls)


Le Plaisir (Ophüls)


Madame de . . . ( The Earrings of Madame De ) (Ophüls)


Lola Montès (Ophüls)


Montparnasse 19 ( Modigliani of Montparnasse ) (Becker)


Pas question le samedi (Joffé)


By ANNENKOV: books—

En habillant les vedettes , Paris, 1951.

Max Ophüls , Paris, 1962.

Russian Stage & Costume Designs for the Ballet, Opera & Theatre , Alexandria, 1967.

On ANNENKOV: article—

Avant-Scène (Paris), January 1969.

Obituary, in Ecran (Paris), October 1974.

Obituary, in Cinema 74 (Paris), December 1974.

* * *

Georges Annenkov had worked as a stage and costume designer for 20 years before his work in French films, and he continued to do stage designs in France. His filmography is rather small for his years of activity, and his works from the 1940s have an overdone feel to them, especially the films immediately after the war when full-fleshed film design seemed de rigueur.

But his collaborations with Max Ophüls and his "team" (the art director Jean D'Eaubonne, the photographer Christian Matras, and, usually, the writer Jacques Natanson) on Ophüls's last four films display his sensitivity as well as his brilliance in costume design. The stylish variety of costumes in La Ronde and Le Plaisir testify to his long experience, and his ability not to let his command of the periods and styles overwhelm the thematic movements of the films themselves.

In Madame de . . . , the wardrobe, as well as the earrings, are used to promote insight into the underlying theme of the film: frivolity leading to understanding and finally tragedy. Lola Montès is a deliberate exercise in overabundance and opulence, and here, guided no doubt by Ophüls, Annenkov's use of the "Baroque" (a term used to both vilify and praise the film) is subtle and amusing. Cocteau, with whom Annenkov had worked on two films ( L'Eternel Retour and La Symphonie pastorale ), was interestingly enough one of those who signed an open letter defending the film after its disastrous opening, and only after the film's rehabilitation in the late 1960s has it come to be seen as a critique of excess rather than a film pandering to it.

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