Jean Grémillon

Active - 1928 - 1954  |   Born - Oct 3, 1901   |   Died - Jan 1, 1959   |   Genres - Drama

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

French filmmaker Jean Grémillon was a true iconoclast, who during his relatively brief feature-film career was highly touted by French intellectuals for such films as Garden de Phare (1930). He later became known for making highly personal, darkly emotional post-WW II films such as the allegorical Lumiere D'ete (1943). Born in Bayeux, France, Grémillon originally trained to become a professional violinist at the Paris Schola Cantorum. Later he worked in an orchestra as a silent-film accompanist. After meeting cinematographer Georges Perinal, Grémillon became interested in making films. Beginning in 1923, he directed many documentary shorts and avant-garde films. Grémillon made his feature-film debut in 1927, but soon gave it up because he felt artistically repressed by the commercialism of the French film industry--while his films impressed the literati, they were not particularly successful with mainstream audiences-- and he eventually went to work in Germany and Spain during the 1930s. Grémillon's cinematic visions did not reach full flower until the late 1940s when he created such films as Stormy Waters (1946) and Le Ciel Est a Vous (1957). He frequently composed the soundtracks of his films. Grémillon aspired toward ambitious projects and once again began feeling constrained by the film industry. Eventually he returned to making short documentaries during the 1950s. Between 1943 and 1958, he was president of the Cinémathèque Française.

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