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Jean-Jacques Annaud

Jean-Jacques Annaud

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Also Known As: Jean Jacques Annaud Died:
Born: October 1, 1943 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: France Profession: director, screenwriter, producer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Pioneering French director Jean-Jacques Annaud has often seemed as much anthropologist as filmmaker, taking great pains to faithfully create the disparate cultures that have driven his films. Time after time he has depicted the conflict that occurs when one culture bumps up against another and the resultant emotional transformations that arise from these clashes. His globetrotting has taken him from Vietnam (where he became the first non-Asian in 50 years to shoot anything but live ammunition) to the Andes (substituting for the Himalayas), the Canadian Rockies (standing in for the Andes) to colonial Africa, pursuing a recurrent theme--the quest for humanity in a world that has lost all sense of what being human is.Annaud began collecting cameras and projectors at an early age, studied at the Vaugirard film technical school and later IDHEC and first made educational films for the French Army while fulfilling his mandatory military requirement in Africa. He subsequently became an acclaimed and extremely prolific director of TV commercials, making over 500 during the late 1960s and early 70s and acquiring the clout to venture into features. His debut, "Black and White in Color" (1976)--sparked by his...

Pioneering French director Jean-Jacques Annaud has often seemed as much anthropologist as filmmaker, taking great pains to faithfully create the disparate cultures that have driven his films. Time after time he has depicted the conflict that occurs when one culture bumps up against another and the resultant emotional transformations that arise from these clashes. His globetrotting has taken him from Vietnam (where he became the first non-Asian in 50 years to shoot anything but live ammunition) to the Andes (substituting for the Himalayas), the Canadian Rockies (standing in for the Andes) to colonial Africa, pursuing a recurrent theme--the quest for humanity in a world that has lost all sense of what being human is.

Annaud began collecting cameras and projectors at an early age, studied at the Vaugirard film technical school and later IDHEC and first made educational films for the French Army while fulfilling his mandatory military requirement in Africa. He subsequently became an acclaimed and extremely prolific director of TV commercials, making over 500 during the late 1960s and early 70s and acquiring the clout to venture into features. His debut, "Black and White in Color" (1976)--sparked by his compassion for the people of Africa during his Army days and wittily satirizing a group of French colonialists around the Ivory Coast circa 1914--though unsuccessful in his own country was a surprise hit in the USA, winning the Oscar as Best Foreign Film. His follow-up film, "Coup de tete/Hot Head" (1979), amusingly debunked the world of professional soccer and gave him a popular success in his native land.

For "Quest for Fire" (1981), a grueling portrait of primitive man that earned him two Cesar awards, Annaud invented four primitive tribes and then, with the help of the late Anthony Burgess and renowned anthropologist Desmond Morris, invented a culture--from body language to dress to implements--for each tribe. One tribe's discovery and use of fire to vanquish its enemies perfectly presaged modern man's exploiting his advantage whenever possible. His first English-language film, "The Name of the Rose" (1986), adapted from the Umberto Eco novel, introduced him to the world of the box-office star (Sean Connery) and the big budget ($18 million). Its tale of intrigue and murder in a medieval monastery continued his collaboration with screenwriter Gerard Brach which has begun on "Quest for Fire". Brach would also script "The Bear" (1988) and share screenwriting credit for "The Lover" (1992) with Annaud.

"The Bear", a cub's coming of age story told from the cub's point of view, pitted sympathetic beast against villainous man, imparting a real sense of nature's magnificence in the bargain. Annaud spent nearly six years finding the right animals (including a 2000-pound Kodiak bear named Bart) and training them for their "roles" in the film. For his film version of Marguerite Duras' novel "The Lover", Annaud revisited European colonialism and its prejudices, brilliantly recreating a 1929 Saigon backdrop for the steamy romance between a young French girl and a wealthy Chinese man. The passion he acquired for Vietnam during "The Lover" insured that he would return to an Asian setting for a subsequent movie.

With "Wings of Courage" (1995), Annaud became the first director to shoot a feature in the 3D IMAX format, telling in spectacular fashion the true story of a downed aviator who trekked back to civilization across six Andes mountain peaks in 1930. Then it was East meets West once again in "Seven Years in Tibet" (1997). Annaud's film starred Brad Pitt as Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer, who escaped from a British prisoner of war camp during World War II by climbing over the Himalayas into Tibet, where he served as advisor to the young Dalai Lama while discovering Buddhism. Thwarted in his attempts to film in northern India, Annaud spared no expense rebuilding Tibet in Argentina, putting every bit of the movie's $70 million budget on the screen.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Two Brothers (2004) Director
3.
  Enemy at the Gates (2001) Director
4.
  Seven Years in Tibet (1997) Director
5.
  Wings of Courage (1995) Director
6.
  Lover, The (1992) Director
7.
  Bear, The (1989) Director
8.
  Name of the Rose, The (1986) Director
9.
  Quest for Fire (1982) Director
10.
  Coup de Tete (1980) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Rose of the Names, The (1987) Himself
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Fulfilled mandatory period of military service in Cameroon, Africa
:
Began career as film director making educational films while serving in French Army
:
Directed over 500 commercials (for which he won numerous Clio and Silver Lion Awards)
1976:
First film as director and screenwriter, "Victoire en chantant/Black and White in Color"; won Oscar as Best Foreign-Language Film
1978:
Co-wrote (with Alain Godard and director Pierre Richard) the screenplay for a film he did not direct, "Je suis timide, mais je me soigne/I'm Shy But I'm Treating It"
1979:
Last screenplay credit for 13 years, "Coup de Tete/Hot Head", which he also directed
1981:
First collaboration with screenwriter Gerard Brach, "Quest for Fire"
:
Founded Paris-based production company, Reparge Productions
1986:
First English-language film, "The Name of the Rose"
1988:
Helmed "The Bear", a wildlife coming-of-age movie told from the bear's point of view
1992:
First screenplay credit in 13 years, "The Lover", adapted from Marguerite Duras's novel in collaboration with Gerard Brach
1993:
Signed a three-year deal with Sony Pictures to direct English-Language movies
1995:
Wrote and directed the first IMAX 3-D fiction film, the 40-minute "Wings of Courage"
1997:
Directed Brad Pitt in the $70 million biopic "Seven Years in Tibet"
2001:
Helmed "Enemy at the Gates"; screened at the Berlin Film Festival
2004:
Wrote and directed the dramatic adventure "Two Brothers" about two tigers who are separated from their parents and each other
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Education

Ecole de Vaugirard: -
Ecole Nationale de Photo et Cinema: - 1964
Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinematographiques: - 1966
Sorbonne, University of Paris: - 1967

Notes

Awarded the Cinema Prize from French Academy in 1989 for career's work and the Grand Prix National du Cinema (1990).

Named Best Director by the Japanese Critic Association for "The Lover" (1993).

Made Officier des Arts et Lettres, Merite National

When asked if he was among the Hollywood Buddhists: "No. No. In a way, I resent those people who are parading in front of His Holiness [the Dalai Lama], bent in obedience. I respect the man immensely, but I'm not a Buddhist, I'm a filmmaker. I don't want to convert people. I want to entertain them and give them a glimpse at another civilization. I have seen a lot of Hollywood Buddhists who produce violent movies and give three percent of the gross to nonviolent organizations. That doesn't work for me. I think, if you want to promote nonviolence, don't make violent movies." --Jean-Jacques Annaud in Movieline, October 1997

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Monique Rossoignol. Married in 1970; divorced in 1980.
wife:
Laurence Duval. Married in 1982.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Pierre Annaud. Railroad employee.
mother:
Madeleine Annaud. Corporate secretary.
daughter:
Mathilde Annaud. Mother Monique Rossoignol.
daughter:
Juliette Annaud. Mother Monique Rossoignol.
daughter:
Louise Annaud. Born c. 1988; mother Laurence Duval.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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