Born in Paris in the middle of World War I, Jean-Pierre Grumbach knew he wanted to be a filmmaker at a very early age. After receiving a “Pathé Baby ” camera at the age of seven, he went on to create the equivalent of thirty short movies in various formats for friends and family by the time he turned twenty. His burgeoning career and dreams of being a film director were interrupted by Nazi Germany and the Second World War, but instead of evacuating to the United Kingdom he stayed in his homeland and fought, wisely changing his last name to Melville after his favorite author. Now a veteran of the Resistance in Nazi-occupied France, Jean-Pierre Melville later used his love of filmmaking and American gangster movies, accompanied by his disdain for the domineering French cinema establishment, to invent an entire genre of films and inspire an army of young directors to ignore conventional methods and embrace their own creations in their own unique ways.
THE ACCIDENTAL ICON
From the beginning, Melville caught the attention of audiences and critics with his hardboiled crime noir films both in terms of storytelling and filming techniques. So much so that writers coined a term for his films—and those soon to follow by others directors—as the French New
Wave, and Melville was the Godfather. Part of Melville’s motivation for this new style was his intense dissatisfaction with the imperious demands of the Director’s Guild as he personally defined the French New Wave as “an