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Claude Berri

Claude Berri

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Also Known As: Claude Langmann Died: January 12, 2009
Born: July 1, 1934 Cause of Death: neurological condition
Birth Place: Paris, FR Profession: Producer ... producer distributor director screenwriter actor furrier
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BIOGRAPHY

Multi-faceted maverick of contemporary French cinema. Berri began his career as an actor and moved behind the camera in the early 1960s, earning critical praise for short films like "Le poulet" (1963).

Since the formation of his production company RENN in 1968, Berri has been involved with an impressive array of quality films by Claude Zidi, Bertrand Blier and Maurice Pialat, among others. In 1973 he developed a distribution arm, AMLF, which has since handled over 150 films.

Among RENN-produced films are Roman Polanski's "Tess" (1979) and the Jean-Jacques Annaud projects "The Bear" (1988) and "L'Amande/The Lover" (1992), the sweaty adaptation of the Marguerite Duras novel. As a director-writer, Berri's output has ranged from the lush pointlessness of "Le Sex Shop" to the muscular epicality of "Jean de Florette" (1986). In the 80s Berri established himself as the prince of film adaptation, beginning with "Jean de Florette", the tale of hunchbacked farmer Jean, a simple, gentle man of indomitable strength (played by Gerard Depardieu), who in the end is destroyed by his villainous enemies. The glowing provincial setting and the morality tale format, dappled with a very French obsession with Man versus Nature, proved critically and commerically fortuitous for Berri. Its companion, "Manon des sources/Manon of the Spring" (1986), starred Emmanuelle Beart in a less classically achieved continuation of the Florette saga.

His next valentine to the stout "tradition of quality" corpus is "Germinal" (1993): a box office bonanza in Europe which was an adaptation of Zola's grand novel of the same name. A work of great length and stolidity (185 minutes in the mines with fashionably emaciated young miners) it starred Depardieu and Miou-Miou and an army of extras. Reaching the 30 million dollar benchmark, "Germinal" became one of the most expensive French films ever made.

Berri has also spent much of the 90s as producer on high profile features including Jean-Jacques Annaud's "The Lover" (1992), Patrice Chereau's "Queen Margot/La reine Margot" (1994) and Josiane Balasko's "French Twist" (1995).

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