Ascenseur pour l'échafaud X Gideon Tazelaar Trio
An elevator. Jeanne Moreau. Music by Miles Davis. A perfect murder. Until fate intervenes. Live performance by Gideon Tazelaar Trio in collaboration with Grachtenfestival.
Jeanne Moreau plays Florence, disillusioned war veteran Julien’s mistress. He works for Florence’s husband, an arms dealer. The leading characters’ lives are upended when Julien, fired up by Florence, shoots his boss dead with a revolver.
Film noir and nouvelle vague combined, Ascenseur pour l’échafaud marked a break with 1950’s French film traditions. Moreau's unadorned appearance and Miles Davis’ legendary improvised jazz soundtrack (jazz had thus far been little used in cinema) provided a stark contrast to the refined aesthetic approach of French studio productions.
Cameraman Henri Decaë, who had previously worked with director Jean Pierre Melville, used light-sensitive black & white film stock, shot in the streets (often from the shoulder) and ensured that Moreau wore no make-up and looked as little like the cliché of a dazzling film star as possible.
This resulted in a form of contemporary realism, grimy and sombre, that influenced nouvelle vague filmmakers including Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Truffaut. For the 30-year-old Moreau – a respected thespian at the time who also played bit parts in French genre films – Ascenseur pour l’échafaud provided her breakthrough as a film actress.
Rain-drenched streets, curls of cigarette smoke, and men with a dark past. An inescapable fate and a femme fatale, sly and sexually independent. This summer Eye is presenting an extended programme of classic film noir, featuring masterpieces such as The Third Man and In a Lonely Place starring Humphrey Bogart. With vintage 35mm prints and newly restored works.