Michel Piccoli and Romy Schneider in "The Things of Life". - Sipa

A sacred monster of French cinema! At 94 years old and with some 200 films on the counter, Michel Piccoli, who died on Monday, is an essential figure for any film buff. A look back at the ten most beautiful roles in his long career.

Paul Javal, in "Le Mépris" by Jean-Luc Godard

If Michel Piccoli was noticed in cinema since the 1950s in the costume of Captain Valorgueil in French Cancan by Jean Renoir, he established himself as a leading actor in the masterpiece of Jean-Luc Godard, Le Mépris , released in 1963 and available on MyCanal. He camps there Paul Javal, a somewhat cowardly screenwriter who left with his wife (Brigitte Bardot) in Rome to rework a film by Fritz Lang. The clinical observation of the couple's degradation follows. A role that we “totally, tenderly, tragically love” because it reveals Michel Piccoli's ability to play characters full of cracks

Henri Husson in "Belle de jour" by Luis Buñuel

Luis Bunuel gave Michel Piccoli some of his most beautiful roles. They shot seven films together:  Death in the Garden (1956), The Diary of a Chambermaid (1964), Belle de jour (1967), The Milky Way (1969), The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972 ), The Phantom of Liberty (1974) and This Obscure Object of Desire (1977). With Belle de jour in 1967, available on MyCanal, Michel Piccoli offers his first scandalous film. In this adaptation of Joseph Kessel's novel, Catherine Deneuve plays Séverine, a bourgeois woman sexually dissatisfied with her husband. Michel Piccoli shares Henri, the husband's friend. He persuades Séverine to work as a prostitute in a luxury brothel and admits her desire.

Pierre Bérard in "Things of life" by Claude Sautet

Michel Piccoli is above all the favorite actor of Claude Sautet in the 1970s. Between 1970 and 1976, they will shoot no less than five films together including notably Les Choses de la vie (1970), Max et les Ferrailleurs (1971), Vincent, François, Paul and the others… (1974). Les Choses de la vie , available on MyCanal, is Romy Schneider and Michel Piccoli in a heartbreaking story of love dilemma and car accident. Michel Piccoli infuses Pierre with cruel and overwhelming silences which give a rare intensity to this apparent banal story of love triangle.

Michel in "La Grande Bouffe" by Marco Ferreri

Actor loyal to his directors, Michel Piccoli starred in seven feature films from the subversive Marco Ferreri between 1969 to 1981 by Dillinger est mor t à Contes de la folie normale . Presented at the Cannes Festival in 1973, La Grande Bouffe caused a scandal. Michel Piccoli camps there one of the participants in a dinner which turns into collective suicide, by excessive consumption of food. Her character dies of an aerophagia attack.

Edmond Leroyer in Jacques Demy's “Une chambre en ville”

Michel Piccoli has collaborated three times with Jacques Demy. After Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, he finds the director in the early 1980s in another musical film, A Room in the City, a Tragic Fairy Tale, available on Netflix.

Snowy in "Snowy in May" by Louis Malle

With the title role of Snowy in May by Louis Malle, Michel Picccoli won the César for best actor in 1991 with this role of epicurean dreamer in this family chronicle against the backdrop of May 1968. In this role, Michel Piccoli deploys a candor and a form of disbelief, almost childish and touching.

Édouard Frenhofer in "La Belle Noiseuse" by Jacques Rivette

La Belle Noiseuse, available on Arte.tv , marks the first collaboration between Michel Piccoli and Jacques Rivette. The film resonates strangely with Le Mépris by Jean-Luc Godard and awards Michel Piccoli the César for best actor in 1992. In this film, the actor embodies an aging painter riddled with a secret that obsesses him: abandonment, ten years ago, a large painting which was to be his masterpiece. The arrival of a young couple, and in particular Marianne (Emmanuel Béart) in his property will allow him to resume this work.

Michel in "Party" by Manoel de Oliveira

Michel Piccoli was also a follower of the filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira with whom he shot five feature films. In Party , Leonor and Rogério have been married for ten years. To celebrate the event, a garden party is organized on the terrace of their beautiful palace, in Ponta Delgada in the Azores. Two friends, Irene, a famous Greek actress of middle age, accompanied by her lover Michel, played by Michel Piccoli, a longtime seducer, join them. Michel en Casanova patenté tries to seduce Leonor…

The Pope in “Habemus papam” by Nanni Moretti

Luis Buñuel and Michel Piccoli had anticlericalism in common. After wearing the religious habit in 1956 in La Mort en ce jardin by the director of Spanish origin, naturalized Mexican, Michel Piccoli becomes sovereign pontiff in the succulent farce of Nanni Moretti in 2011, Habemus papam, available on Arte.tv. Barely elected, without even having bothered to choose his pontifical name, he made the wall of the Vatican city and lost himself in secular Rome. Like him, Michel Piccoli, an admirable actor, was above all a free man.


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