French poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert died on le 11 avril 1977 in Omonville-la-Petite, Normandie. Prévert was born on le 4 février 1900 in Neuilly-sur-Seine.
Prévert grew up in Paris where he was bored by school. He often went to theater with his father, a drama critic, and acquired a love of reading from his mother. After receiving his Certificat d'études attesting to his having completed his primary education, he quit school and went to work in Le Bon Marché department store in Paris. Then, he was called up for military service in 1918 and after the war was sent to the Near East. He became a Communist, but left the party after a few years.
Prévert is often associated, like artist Salvador Dali, with surrealism. However, it is often pointed out with those familiar with his works that Prévert was "too much of a free spirit to be completely tied to any one group." His poems are typically about life in Paris and life after the la deuxième guerre mondiale. They were published in his books Paroles (Lyrics or Words) (1946), Histoires (Stories) (1946), Spectacle (1951), La Pluie et le beau temps (Rain and Good Weather) (1955), Fatras (1971) and Choses et autres (Things and others) (1973). Some of his works were set to music by Joseph Kosma and others such as Christiane Verger and Hanns Eisler and were sung by prominent XX ème siecle French vocalists including Yves Montand and Édith Piaf. His poems are widely taught in French schools. His writings are popular inserts worldwide into French language books.
Prévert also wrote a number of screenplays for French film director Marcel Carné, among them Drôle de drame (Bizarre, Bizarre, 1937), Le jour se lève (Daybreak, 1939), Le Visiteurs du soir and, perhaps most famously, Les enfants du paradis (The Children of Paradise, 1945). Le Visiteurs du soir was interpreted by many as being an allegory of the Nazi occupation of France, though Prévert denied this.
Below is a brief outline of Prévert's life:
1900, le 4 février
Jacques Prévert was born in Neuilly sur Seine, the second son of Suzanne and André Prévert. The oldest son, Jean was already two years old.
His second brother, Pierre, was born. Pierre and Jacques became very close. His father lost his job and the family experienced financial difficulties for a year.
Jacques went to school. His father introduced him to theatre and reading. His father was given a new job by Auguste, Jacques's grandfather. Jacques didn't much like his grandfather. Later, Jacques, with very leftist political leanings, considered his grandfather to be a royalist reactionary.
Jacques was baptized.
He received his school certificate and began working odd jobs. He was a rather rebellious teenager but he began to appreciate reading and poetry.
He began his Military service in Saint-Nicolas-de-Port, near Lunéville. He met the painter Yves Tanguy. He was then sent to Turkey by l'armée.
During his military service in Constantinople, he met Marcel Duhamel.
Jacques returned to Paris where his friend Marcel Duhamel provided him an accomodation at 54, rue du Château. Yves Tangui lived with them.
54, rue du Château became the meeting place for the surrealist movement with André Breton as the leader. Jacques was an active member of the group.
Jacques married Simone Dienne, his long time friend.
Prévert, Tanguy and Duhamel leave rue du Château after a problem with Breton.
Jacques openly criticized Breton and left the surrealist movement. The members of the surrealist movement published Un Cadavre, "a corpse." The text from Jacques is named "Death of a Sir" and Prévert took this opportunity to publish another paper, Souvenirs de famille ou l’Ange garde-chiourme.
Jacques set up the Octobre group and became the main member. He wrote screenplays for a comedy group.
Trip to Moscow with Octobre group and the play La Bataille de Fontenoy.
He became acquainted with a poor musician from Budapest, Joseph Kosma, who later would set some of Prévert's poems to music.
He wrote the screenplay for the movie Crime de Monsieur Lange for Jean Renoir, son of the peintre impressionniste. He left his wife Simone.
He met Jacqueline Laurent, and travelled with her to Baleares islands. The Octobre group ended and Jacques broke away from Communism. His father died this year.
He wrote the screenplay Quai des Brumes, a film of Marcel Carne with Jean Gabin and Michèle Morgan. He travelled to the U.S. to find his love Jacqueline.
He wrote Le jour se lève together with Marcel Carné and actors Jean Gabin and Arletty.
Jacques was dismissed from the army during the Second World War. He left Paris and went to Saint-Paul-de-Vence in the South of France with his latest girlfriend, Claudy Carter. Kosma and Trauner worked with him on new films.
He wrote the screenplay for Les Visiteurs du soir with Marcel Carné and actors Jules Berry and Arletty.
Jacques fell in love with Janine Loris.
He wrote the screenplay for Les Enfants du Paradisfor Marcel Carné with actors Jean-Louis Barrault et Arletty.
Death of his mother. His first book of poem was released, selling over 2 million copies.
Janine gave birth to their daughter, Michèle.
He published Visiteurs du soir and Contes pour enfants pas sages with pictures by Elsa Henriquez.
Jacques fell from a window and was in a coma several days. Serious neurological disorders resulted from this incident and troubled him for years after.
He published Les Amants de Vérone.
He publishes Des bêtes and wrote the cartoon le petit ramoneur with Paul Grimault, which in 1979 was used to produce the cartoon le Roi et l’Oiseau, "The King and the Bird."
He published Spectacle and Grand Bal du printemps.
Jacques returned to Paris and travelled to London. He published Lettre des îles Baladar and Guignol.
He published L’Opéra de la lune.
He returned again to Paris and lived in the artist area of Montmartre. He published La pluie et le beau temps.
He exhibited sixty collages at the galerie Maeght in Paris.
He published Histoires et d’autres and exhibited his collages in several cities of France.
He published Fatras.
He published Arbres.
He bought a house at Omonville-la-Petite, in Normandie; his good friend Alexandre Trauner was a neighbour.
Jacques became the grandfather of Eugénie, doughter of Michèle and Hugues Bachelot.
1977, le 11 avril,
Jacques died in Omonville-la-Petite.