Ghislain Cloquet - Writer





Cinematographer. Nationality: Belgian. Born: Ghislain Pierre Cloquet in Antwerp, 18 April 1924. Education: Attended schools in Brussels and Paris; studied film at École National de Photographie et Cinématographie, 1943–44, and IDHEC, 1946–47. Military Service: World War II service, 1945–46. Family: Married Sophie Becker. Career: Cameraman from 1947; 1954–62—in charge of courses, IDHEC, and director of studies, 1974–81; co-founder, Institut National des Arts du Spectacle; 1963–64—under contract to Television Française: later TV work includes— Double-vue series (in Belgium), 1963, and Charles Aznavour—Music Hall de France , 1969. Awards: Academy Award, César award, and British Academy Award, for Tess , 1979. Died: 2 November 1981.

Films as Cinematographer:

1950

Curare et curarisants de synthèse (Lemoigne); Une ligne sans incident (Magnin—short); Soldats d'eau douce (Leduc—short)

1952

Saint-Tropez, devoir de vacances (Paviot—short)

1953

Les Statues meurent aussi (Resnais and Marker—short); Lumière et l'invention du cinématographe ( Louis Lumière ) (Paviot—short); Statues d'épouvante ( Le Cubisme ; L'École de Paris ) (Hessens—short)

1954

Neiges (Languepin—short) (co); Pantomimes (Paviot—short); Contes à dormir debout (Brabant—short); La Belle Journée (Gibaud—short); Aux frontières de l'homme (Védrès and Rostand—short)

1955

Deux bobines et un fil (Villier—short); Nuit et brouillard (Resnais—short)

1956

Toute la mémoire du monde (Resnais—short); Le Ciel est pardessus le toit ( Ma famille et mon toit ) (Decourt—short); Brahim (Fléchet)

1957

Le Mystère de l'Atelier Quinze (Resnais and Heinrich—short) (co); Me and the Colonel (Glenville) (2nd unit); Un Amour de poche (Kast)

1958

Chopin (Mitry and Olembert—short) (co); Le Bel Age (Kast) (co)

1959

Classe tous risques (Sautet); Le Trou (Jacques Becker)

1960

Les Honneurs de la guerre (Dewever) (co); Description d'un combat (Marker); L'Exécution (Cazeneuve—for TV)

1961

Un nommé la Rocca (Jean Becker); La Belle Américaine (Dhery)

1962

Carillons sans joie (Brabant)

1963

Le Poulet (Berri—short); Un Panier de chats (Villa—for TV); La Belle Marinière (Marchand—for TV); Touiste encore (Malle and Ertaud; another version: Vive le Tour! , 1965); Le Feu follet ( The Fire Within. A Time to Live, a Time to Die ) (Malle)

1964

Le Pain et le vin (Witta—short); La Chambre (Mitrani—for TV)

1965

Mickey One (A. Penn); Pas de caviar pour Tante Olga (Jean Becker)

1966

Au hasard Balthazar ( Balthasar ) (Bresson); L'Homme au crâne rasé ( Die man die zijn Haar kort liet knippen ; The Man Who Had His Hair Cut Short ) (Delvaux)

1967

Mouchette (Bresson); Loin du Viêt-nam (Varda) (co); Les Demoiselles de Rochefort ( The Young Girls of Rochefort ) (Demy)

1968

Benjamin ou les mémoires d'un puceau (Deville); Un Soir, un train (Delvaux); Mazel tov ou le mariage (Berri)

1969

La Maison des Bories (Doniol-Valcroze); Une Femme douce (Bresson)

1970

La Décharge (Baratier); C'était un jour comme les autres (Chartier—short)

1971

Peau d'âne ( Donkey Skin ) (Demy); Faustine et le bel été (Companeez); Rendez-vous à Bray (Delvaux); Pouce! (Badal)

1972

Nathalie Granger (Duras); Au rendez-vous de la mort joyeuse (J. Buñuel)

1973

L'Histoire très bonne et très joyeuse de Colinot Trousse-Chemise (Companeez); Belle (Delvaux)

1974

Dites-le avec des fleurs (Grimblat); Le Boucher, la star, et l'orpheline (Savary) (co)

1975

Love and Death (Allen); Monsieur Albert (Renard); La Ville Bidon (Baratier)

1978

The Secret Lives of Plants (Green) (co)

1979

Tess (Polanski) (co)

1980

Chère inconnue ( I Sent a Letter to My Love ) (Mizrahi)

1981

Four Friends ( Georgia's Friends ) (A. Penn)



Films as Camera Operator:

1947

Blanc comme neige (Berthomieu)

1948

Cent ans de mission (Méhu—short); Mademoiselle de la Ferté (Dallier)

1949

La Perspective ( Le Dessin de perspective ) (Régnier—short); "Le Retour de Jean" ep. of Retour à la vie (Clouzot); Un Certain Monsieur (Ciampi); La Profession de géomètre expert (Gibaud—short); Moissons d'aujourd'hui ( Chevaux d'acier ) (Dupont—short); Pétrole de la Gironde (Lemoigne—short)

1950

Braque (Bureau—short); L'Espoir au village (de Boissac—short); Hommes des oasis (Régnier—short); Les Musiciens de la mine (Méhu—short); Avalanche (Segard)

1951

La Petite Diligence (Croses—short); Labor Goes to School (Croses—short); The Green Glove (Maté)

1952

Il est minuit, Docteur Schweitzer (Haguet)

1953

La Classe de mathématiques (Lecomte—short); La Classe de lettres (Lecomte—short); La Classe d'histoire (Lecomte—short); L'Homme à l'oeillet blanc (Severac—short); Le Grand Pavois (Pinoteau)

1954

Napoléon (Guitry) (2nd unit)

1955

Les Possédés (Brabant)

1957

Les aventures d'Arsène Lupin ( The Adventures of Arsène Lupin ) (Jacques Becker)

1958

Le Piège (Brabant); Les Naufrageurs (Brabant)



Publications


By CLOQUET: articles—

Cinéma (Paris), January 1965.

Revue du Cinéma (Morges, Switzerland), October/December 1969.

Le Technicien du Film (Paris), April/May 1974.

Le Technicien du Film (Paris), May/June 1974.

Film Reader (Evanston, Illinois), January 1977.

Ecran (Paris), 15 September 1979.

American Cinematographer (Hollywood), May 1981.


On CLOQUET: articles—

Focus on Film (London), no. 13, 1973.

Film Dope , April 1975.

Cinéma Français (Paris), May 1980.

Pour le Cinéma Belge (Brussels), May/June 1980.

Russell, Sharon A., in Semiotics and Lighting , Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1981.

Filme (Berlin), November/December 1981.

Sainderich, G.-P., in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), December 1981.

Obituary in Films and Filming , January 1982.

Film Dope (Nottingham), December 1983.


* * *


Ghislain Cloquet's outstanding contribution to the development of postwar European camerawork was twofold. First, his rich experience as camera operator and cinematographer on short fictions and documentaries for cinema or television allowed him to foreground the lightweight technique at a time when cinema was still very "heavy." Cloquet subsequently established, thanks to his masterly use of the camera, a perfect compatibility between the liberation of technique and the exactness of framed shots. Second, his generous nature and his desire to train capable technicians while widening their artistic scope, led him to form not only reputed present-day cinematographers (Bruno Nuytten and Charlie Van Damme, among many others), but also whole generations of European film-makers who attended the French IDHEC and the no less famous Belgian INSAS, a film school Cloquet and André Delvaux founded in the early sixties.

Though Belgian-born, Cloquet moved to France very early, as during the fifties there was no ongoing production in his native country. In spite of having started his apprenticeship on the sets of great cinematographers such as Louis Page, Christian Matras, and Edmond Séchan, Cloquet considered himself a self-made artisan and strove to attain perfect harmony between the director's general concept of a film and his visual translation of it. The results of his fulfilled ambition are visible throughout his collaboration with Alain Resnais on his most challenging documentaries ( Les Statues meurent aussi , Nuit et brouillard , and Toute la mémoire du monde ).

The same went for Resnais's friend Chris Marker, whom Cloquet overtly admired for his capacity to extensively use the cinematographer's potential, especially during the shooting of the famous Description d'un combat . International recognition came, however, with a feature-length film—unfortunately Jacques Becker's last— Le Trou , in which Cloquet's lighting managed to effectively dramatize an action unfolding in a circumscribed, unspectacular setting. Throughout Louis Malle's psychological study of a young bourgeois's suicidal ego, Le Feu follet , Cloquet related perfectly to the director's style and rendered the symbolism of ordinary places, such as hotel rooms, taxis, or Parisian cafés. His partnership with Nouvelle Vague directors included films by Pierre Kast and Agnès Varda.

The latter's husband, Jacques Demy, an atypical creator for his generation, requested from Cloquet a color photography very close to magic: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort and Peau d'âne , made a few years later, still enchant audiences over the world. During the same decade, Cloquet's work also helped materialize some of the most relevant metaphysical films of this century. While shooting Au hasard Balthazar and Mouchette , he tried his utmost to satisfy Robert Bresson's demanding mise en scène: the director wanted him to frame each shot as a sensual, dense entity inside which shades of daylight, raindrops falling over a countryscape or mysterious gazes from Balthazar, the sacred donkey, were supposed to be part of a spiritual visual event. Such an experience seems to have had an impact on his fruitful collaboration with André Delvaux, master of what is commonly called "magic realism" on the screen. Cloquet served both as camera operator and as cinematographer for most of Delvaux's films: L'Homme au crâne rasé ; Un soir, un train ; Rendez-vous à Bray ; and Belle all received worldwide praise for their camerawork. The black-and-white photography used for L'Homme au crâne rasé works up a striking ambiguity between dream and reality, while images shot in color for the three other films are a deliberate reminder of Flemish and French masters.

Cloquet's name has nonetheless been associated with less sophisticated directors such as Claude Berri, Jean Becker, and Nina Companeez. It is precisely after having seen Faustine et le bel été by Companeez that Woody Allen decided to hire the Belgian cinematographer for Love and Death , asking him to find evocative Russian locations around Paris and to keep a consistent balance between the poetic and the parodic elements of a multilayered visual fiction. Cloquet had previously worked with another U.S. director, Arthur Penn, for Mickey One , and one of his last films was another successful Penn vehicle, Four Friends . Cloquet's last—but not least—challenge consisted in brilliantly succeeding the reputed Geoffrey Unsworth, who died unexpectedly before having time to complete the shooting of Polanski's Tess . Apart from receiving an Academy Award—for his work on Tess —Cloquet was offered the opportunity, one year before his untimely death, to bring his opinions back to the forefront and to reaffirm what he has always cherished, namely the importance of rigorous training for a discipline where art and technical ability were meant to be one.

—Dominique Nasta



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