Jean Grémillon

November 21–December 21, 2014

“Who could fail to sense the greatness of this art, in which the visible is the sign of the invisible?” –Jean Grémillon

Jean Grémillon (1901–1959) left his native Normandy with the ambition to be a composer, but while working in the orchestra pit as a silent film accompanist, he fell in love with movies. The lyrical, musical films that he would go on to create both predicted and transcended 1930s French “poetic realism”—for Grémillon was too much an iconoclast to belong to any movement. A documentarian first and last, he combined a dedication to real-life detail with a passion for flamboyant artifice—only one of the many contradictions that defined his personality. He was also a lover of liberty who made his greatest works during the German occupation, and a populist who chafed at working in industrial filmmaking, ending his career making shorts about the fine arts. Little remembered outside of his native country after his early death, Grémillon has slowly emerged to be recognized as one of the titans of pre-New Wave French cinema. All films are directed by Jean Grémillon.

Special thanks to the Institut Français for the loan of their prints, and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy for their support.