Berliner Tageszeitung - French screen legend Jean-Louis Trintignant dead at 91

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French screen legend Jean-Louis Trintignant dead at 91

French screen legend Jean-Louis Trintignant dead at 91
French screen legend Jean-Louis Trintignant dead at 91 / Foto: © AFP

France lost a screen legend on Friday -- actor Jean-Louis Trintignant, who died at the age of 91, was hailed by President Emmanuel Macron as "a wonderful artistic talent".


Among the legends that emerged during French cinema's New Wave in the 1960s, Trintignant had one of the most durable careers, still making ground-breaking films into his eighties.

His quiet authority and sonorous voice left their mark on some 120 films, from the notorious "And God Created Woman" alongside Brigitte Bardot in 1959, through classics like "A Man and a Woman" and "Z", to later powerful dramas such as "Three Colours: Red" and "Amour".

"He accompanied our lives through French cinema," said Macron when he was informed of the news during a tech conference in Paris.

"It's a page that turns on a wonderful artistic talent and voice."

Trintignant's life was, however, marked by one terrible trauma when his daughter Marie was beaten to death by her rock-star boyfriend Bertrand Cantat in 2003.

He was surrounded by his family in the Gard region of southern France when he passed away, his wife said in a statement sent to AFP. No cause of death was given.

- Traitors, thugs and crooks -

Trintignant announced his retirement from cinema in 2017 but returned two years later for a sequel to the film that made his name -- the 1966 classic "A Man and a Woman".

The New Wave love story from director Claude Lelouch starred Trintignant as a racing driver -- his real-life passion -- and turned him into an international star after it won two Academy Awards and the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

He won the best actor award at the festival three years later for political thriller "Z".

"The most beautiful voice that we've heard in theatre or cinema," Lelouch told French radio on Friday.

"He made us a gift of his scars. He was a remarkable man... I owe him everything," added Lelouch, who worked with Trintignant on seven films.

Despite his screen success, Trintignant was known to say that he preferred the theatre.

"I could have spent my whole life doing theatre," he said in 2017, adding: "But cinema paid better!"

After his breakout role alongside Bardot -- with whom he had a brief affair -- Trintignant went on to be seen as one of the most gifted actors of the postwar generation, playing an array of traitors, thugs and crooks or ambiguous and perverted types.

"Trintignant was one of my all-time favourite actors: sexy, pensive, mischievous, capable of deep and searching sadness," tweeted Variety film critic Guy Lodge. "What a body of work. What a face."

Images of him crying at his daughter's funeral touched French hearts in 2003.

"Inside me, everything is destroyed," he said, and disappeared from cinema for a decade.

But he refused to give in to bitterness and even forgave Cantat, the lead singer of the French band Noir Desir, when many others refused.

And he returned to triumph in 2012, starring in Michael Haneke's Oscar-winning "Amour" as a man in his eighties struggling to look after his wife after a stroke.

Trintignant first married actress Stephane Audran, then film director Nadine Marquand, with whom he had three children -- Marie, Pauline and Vincent. The couple divorced and he then went on to marry Mariane Hoepfner, a former racing driver like himself.

F. Burkhard--BTZ