One of the most respected filmmakers working today, Claire Denis is responsible for inspiring many modern artists through enigmatic works such as Beau Travail and 35 Shots of Rum among others. Through her works, Denis has raised relevant questions about the wounds of colonialism as well as the identity of Europe.
These sensibilities were formed in Denis’ mind at a very young age because she was raised in a part of Africa which was still under French colonial rule at the time. During her childhood, she had limited access to cinema and could only watch old copies of war films that were sent over there from the US but read extensively.
Although she started out by studying economics, Denis eventually ended up at film school and went on to work under masters like Jacques Rivette, Costa-Gavras, Wim Wenders and many others. In fact, she worked as the assistant director on Wenders’ most acclaimed films – the beautifully tragic Paris, Texas as well as the mystical Wings of Desire.
Denis is currently working on a brand new project which is set to come out this year. Titled Fire, it will star Juliette Binoche as a conflicted woman who is torn between her best friend and her long-time partner. The film has already been scheduled for its premiere at this year’s edition of the prestigious Berlin Film Festival.
Denis’ influences are all over the place, ranging from Steven Spielberg to Ingmar Bergman. While talking about Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller, she said: “This film is so beautiful, so erotic. I am obligated to use the term erotic because in this film there is life, emotions and the absolute beauty of desire. I would have liked to have been those two actors!”
Adding, “The day after I saw it, I took my mother to see it, and until the end of her life she talked about this film. There are few actors, like Julie Christie and Warren Beatty, who can create and express desire so well. And then there is the scenery, the cinematography”.
Check out a list of some of the films that inspired Claire Denis below.
Claire Denis’ favourite films:
- Late Spring (Yasujirô Ozu, 1949)
- Trust (Hal Hartley, 1990)
- McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)
- Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1995)
- A Thousand Suns (Mati Diop, 2013)
- An Angel at My Table (Jane Campion, 1990)
- Thief (Michael Mann, 1981)
- Je, tu, il, elle (Chantal Akerman, 1974)
- The Silence (Ingmar Bergman, 1963)
- Intentions of Murder (Shôhei Imamura, 1964)
- Suddenly, Last Summer (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1959)
- Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)
- Touki Bouki (Djibril Diop Mambéty, 1973)
- An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)
- Tout va bien (Jean-Pierre Gorin and Jean-Luc Godard, 1972)
- The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson, 2004)
- The Lovers on the Bridge (Leos Carax, 1991)
- La Haine (Mathieu Kassovitz, 1995)
- His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
- Twilight (Catherine Hardwicke, 2008)
- To Live and Die in L.A. (William Friedkin, 1985)
- Minority Report (Steven Spielberg, 2002)
- They Live By Night (Nicholas Ray, 1948)
- Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974)
- La Bête humaine (Jean Renoir, 1938)
- The Birth of Love (Philippe Garrel, 1993)
- La chienne (Jean Renoir, 1931)
- Cockfighter (Monte Hellman, 1974)
- The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well (Hong Sang-soo, 1996)
- Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (Nagisa Ôshima, 1983)
- Le petit soldat (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963)
- Le Pont du Nord (Jacques Rivette, 1981)
- Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (Melvin Van Peebles, 1971)
- Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (F.W. Murnau, 1931)
- Winter’s Child (Olivier Assayas, 1989)
- The Bad Sleep Well (Akira Kurosawa, 1960)
- Mystery Train (Jim Jarmusch, 1989)
- High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963)