Paul Grimault - Writer

Animator. Nationality: French. Born: Neuilly-Sur-Seine, 23 March 1905. Education: Attended the Ecole des Arts Appliqués, Paris. Career: Scene painter for stage sets, and occasional actor on stage and in films; 1936–51—founding director, with André Surrat, Les Gémeaux production company; 1951—formed Les Films Paul Grimault for producing animated shorts, advertising films, and optical effects for films and television works. Award: Venice Festival Prize for Le Petit Soldat , 1948. Died: 29 March 1994.

Films as Animator:


Phénomènes électriques


Le Messager de la lumière


GĂ´ chez les oiseaux (revised version, Les Passagers de la Grande Ourse , 1941)


Le Marchand de notes




Le Voleur de paratonnerres


La Flute magique


Le Petit Soldat


Pierres oubliées


Enrico cuisinier (co—live-action)


La Faim du monde (re-edited version for children, Le Monde en raccourci , 1975)


Le Diamant


Le Chien MĂ©lomane


Le Roi et l'oiseau ( The King and the Bird ) (incorporates footage from repudiated film La Bergère et le ramoneur , 1952)

Films as Actor:


L'Atalante (Vigo); L'Hôtel du libre échange (M. Allégret)


Le Crime de Monsieur Lange ( The Crime of Monsieur Lange ) (Renoir)


Les Vacances de M. Hulot ( Mr. Hulot's Holiday ) (Tati)


Paris mange son pain (P. Prévert); Mon oncle (Tati)

Other Films:


Cuba Si! (Marker) (special effects); Le Vrai Visage de Thérèse de Lisieux (Agostini—short) (special effects)


Mourir à Madrid (Rossif) (special effects); Marcel, ta mère t'appelle (Colombat) (pr)


La Foire aux cancres (Daquin) (special effects); Le Côte d'Adam (Sengissen—short) (special effects); Jacques Copeau (Leenhardt—short) (special effects)


Les Temps morts (Laloux) (pr)


La Demoiselle et le violoncelliste (Laguionie) (pr)


L'Arche de Noé (Laguionie) (pr)


La Tartelette (Colombat) (pr)


Une Bombe par hasard (Laguionie) (pr); Calveras (Colombat) (pr)


La TĂŞte (Bourget) (pr)


Un, deux, trois . . . (Shaker) (pr)


La Table tournante (d + co-sc + ro)


By GRIMAULT: articles—

Image et Son (Paris), December 1965.

Cinéma Français (Paris), no. 32, 1979.

Banc-Titre (Paris), March 1980.

Jeune Cinéma (Paris), July-August 1980.

Time Out (London), 19–25 July 1984.

Films (London), August 1984.

CinémAction (Courbevoie), April 1989.

On GRIMAULT: book—

Pagliano, Jean-Pierre, Paul Grimault , Paris, 1986.

On GRIMAULT: articles—

Chilo, M., in Cinéma (Paris), January 1957.

"Grimault Issue" of Image et Son (Paris), April 1967.

Image et Son (Paris), March 1980.

Continental Film Review (London), April 1980.

Visions (Brussels), 15 January 1983.

CinémAction (Conde-sur-Noireau), no. 51, April 1989.

Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1990.

Obituary, Plateau , vol. 15, no. 1, 1994.

Bref , no. 20, Spring 1994.

Télérama (Paris), 6 April 1994.

Film-dienst (Cologne), 26 April 1994.

Obituary, Mensuel du Cinéma , May 1994.

* * *

Paul Grimault's years of activity cover almost the whole period of French animation. He was fortunate to be associated, in his early days, with such outstanding artists as Marcel Carné, the abstractionist painter Max Ernst, and the famous French comedian Jacques Tati.

Grimault trained as a graphic designer, and in his early professional period he joined an advertising agency and was responsible for many short publicity films. He soon became a strong link between the glorious traditional French animation represented by Emil Cohl and previously by the magical cinematographic touch of Georges Meliès. He was certainly the most outstanding representative of the early period of French animation and was responsible for a new approach with a new look. This new look had a much richer visual content and was nearer to the quality of graphical fine art rather than a caricatured comic strip concept. This school of French animation was established immediately after the Second World War with such films as Le Voleur de paratonnerres , La Flute magique , and an extremely charming short film in 1947, Le Petit Soldat , based on the Hans Andersen fairy tale. After doing a number of commercial films, in 1973 he made Le Chien Mélomane , a short philosophical film about (as is so usual with many contemporary animators) the atomic bomb. By this time his style was established, and maintained by a new generation of young French artists, including Jean François Laguionie, Jacques Colombat, and Emil Bourget. In their visual style they follow closely Grimault's rich visualization of backgrounds and his conception of classical visual style.

Grimault's most notable achievement was the feature film The King and the Bird , which he finished in 1980. It was an instant success and he received a major national award for it, the Dulac Prize. His close collaboration with the outstanding French writer Jacques Prévert gave The King and the Bird a depth of content not usually seen in animated cartoons.

—John Halas

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