COLPI, Henri






Editor and Director. Nationality: Swiss. Born: Brigue, 15 July 1921. Education: Studied editing at IDHEC, Paris, 1945–47. Career: 1949—Editor, Ciné-Digest; 1948—editor of first film, Fourvière; also edited advertising shorts, worked for TV, and directed. Address: 33 rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris, France.


Films as Editor (Shorts):

1948

Fourvière (Maudru); Super-Pacific (Maudru)

1950

Les Déchaînés ( Surboum ) (Keigel) (+ asst d); L'Amour d'un métier (Gérard)

1951

Des rails sous les palmiers (Colson-Malleville) (+ asst d); La Chanson du pavé (Gérard); Ce soir . . . le cirque (Gérard); La Fabrication industrielle des solutés injectables (Gérard); Disques d'hier et d'aujourd'hui (Gérard); Finlande (Bonnière); Norvège (Bonnière); Sarre, pleins feux (Bonnière and Alekan)

1952

Baba-Ali (Colson-Malleville); Le Petit Monde des étangs (Colson-Malleville); Rencontres sur le Rhin (Bonnière); La Fabrication industrielle des comrimés et dragées (Gérard) (+ asst d)

1953

Le Barrage du Châtelot (Colson-Malleville) (+ asst d); A tout casser ( Stock-Cars ) (Dupont); Architecture de lumière (+ co-d)

1954

Du point de vue d'Anton (Colson-Malleville); L'Enquête aboutit (Delbez and others) (+ asst d)

1955

Nuit et brouillard ( Night and Fog ) (Resnais)

1956

Monsieur La Bruyère (Doniol-Valcroze); Routes barrées (Collet); Matériaux nouveaux, demeures nouvelles (+ d)

1957

La Déroute (Kyrou); Morts en vitrine (Vogel) (co); La Jaconde (Gruel); Chères vieilles choses (Vogel)

1958

Le Siècle a soif (Vogel) (co); La Mer et les jours (Vogel) (co); Les Hommes de la baleine (Ruspoli); Du côté de la côte (Varda); La Première Nuit (Franju)

1959

Paris la belle (P. Prévert); Monsieur Tête (Gruel and Lenica)

1966

Symphonie Nr. 7 von Ludwig von Beethoven (+ d); Symphonie Nr. 9 von Franz Schubert (+ d)

1967

Le Coeur des pierres (Bettetini); Symphonie Nr. 3 in Es-dur, Opus 55 "Eroica" von Ludwig von Beethoven (+ d)

1972

Une Belle Journée (Tacchella)



Films as Editor (Features):

1947

Les Jeux sont faits (Delannoy) (asst)

1952

Si ça vous chante (Loew)

1956

Le Mystère Picasso ( The Mystery of Picasso ) (Clouzot)

1957

A King in New York (Chaplin)

1959

Hiroshima mon amour (Resnais) (co)

1961

L'Année dernière à Marienbad ( Last Year at Marienbad ) (Resnais) (co); Une Aussi Longue Absence ( A Long Absence ) (+ d, lyrics)

1963

Codine (+ d, co-sc)

1964

Fascinante Amazônie (Lambert)

1966

Mona, l'étoile sans nom (+ d, co-sc)

1969

Femme noire, femme nue (Ecaré); Détruire, dit-elle ( Destroy, She Said ) (Duras)

1970

Heureux qui comme Ulysse (+ d, co-sc)

1973

L'Ile mystérieuse ( The Mysterious Island ) (+ co-d, co-sc)

1976

Chantons sous l'occupation (Halimi); Bilitis (Hamilton) (+ co-d)

1981

Les Fruits de la passion ( The Fruits of Passion ) (Tereyama)

1983

L'Hirondelle et la mésange (Antoine—produced 1920); Le Grand frère (Girod); La Fuite en Avant (Zerbib)

1989

Australia (Andrien)



Other Films:

1948

Les Enfants dorment la nuit (Bonnière—short) (asst d); Les Chants retrouvés (Breteuil—short) (asst d)

1953

Les Statues meurent aussi (Resnais and Marker—short) (uncredited sound ed)

1961

Regard sur la folie (Ruspoli) (technical adviser)

1986

Offret ( The Sacrifice ) (Tarkovsky) (editorial consultant)

1987

Rue des Arcrives (co-d, with Lubtchansky, Ikhlef, Boutang, Patris)



Publications


By COLPI: books—

(Editor) Le Cinéma et ses hommes , 1947.

Défense et illustration de la musique dans le film , Paris, 1963.


By COLPI: articles—

With Louis Mercorelles and Richard Roud, "Alain Resnais and Hiroshima Mon Amour ," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1959–60.

"Musique d' Hiroshima," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), January 1960.

Image et Son (Paris), no. 144, 1961.

Film Français (Paris), 15 May 1961.

"Debasement of the Art of Montage," in Film Culture (New York), Summer 1961.

Télécine (Paris), no. 103, 1962.

Cinéma (Paris), November 1962.

Avant-Scène (Paris), September 1963.

Image et Son (Paris), May 1970.

Cinéma (Paris), July-August 1980.

Cinématographe (Paris), November 1980.

Cinématographe (Paris), June 1982.

Cinématographe (Paris), July-August 1983.

Cinématographe (Paris), April 1984.

Cinématographe (Paris), March 1985.


On COLPI: articles—

Positif (Paris), June 1962.

Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), December 1962.

Cinéma (Paris), no. 104, 1966.

Film Ideal (Madrid), no. 216, 1969.

Chaplin (Stockholm), no. 2, 1970.

Film Comment (New York), March-April 1977.

Bref (Paris), no. 20, Spring 1994.


* * *


Henri Colpi's education at IDHEC, his experience as a film writer and as editor of Ciné-Digest , together with his early work as assistant director and editor of short films, give his editorial work a notable authority and maturity. Work for Resnais ( Nuit et brouillard , Hiroshima mon amour , and L'Année dernière à Marienbad ), Clouzot ( Le Mystère Picasso ), and Chaplin ( A King in New York ) on long films; and for Gruel, Kyrou, Franju, Varda, and Pierre Prévert on short films—his activity in this second group corresponding to the apogee of the French short film—reveals his astonishing sensibility and assurance in a variety of styles, seen in the actual editing by his choice and arrangements of plain and visual sequences.

As a director as well, Colpi becomes a complete man of the cinema. After a few short films, Colpi made his long-film debut with Une Aussi Longue Absence , based on a scenario conceived by Marguerite Duras. The film, which surprises by its maturity (and also by its deliberate rhythm), tells the story of a woman who thinks her missing husband has reappeared as a tramp. This intimate drama rests on a profound and poetic humanism, despite its realism. In spite of critical attention, the film was not popular, and in the next ten years Colpi succeeded in directing only three more long films. Codine , a faithful adaptation of a work by Panait Istrati, contains color images of great beauty. Mona, l'étoile sans nom , while containing plastic qualities and a poetic atmosphere, seems compromised by a commercial system working against the director. But his next film, Heureux qui comme Ulysse (Fernandel's last film), is a notable success: Colpi manages to translate into visual images all the poetry of Provence, and to render through the story of a man and his horse a homage to liberty.

Later work includes a TV series, L'Ile mystérieuse (with a shorter cinema version), and an edited version of André Antoine's silent film L'Hirondelle et la mésange , evidently never before prepared for viewing, a resurrection unique in cinema.

—Karel Tabery

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