The legendary French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière dies at the age of 89

The legendary French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere, who wrote some of the most memorable films of the last half century, including “The Tin Drum” and “Cyrano de Bergerac”, has died at the age of 89, his daughter told AFP.

Carriere, best known for her work with Luis Bunuel and Milos Forman, died in her sleep late Monday at her home in Paris, says Kiara Carriere.

A prolific writer whose career spanned six decades, Carriere created a series of memorable and provocative scenes, including tying a nuanced Catherine Deneuve naked to a tree.

“Belle de Jour” was one of the fruits of his 19-year collaboration with subversive Spanish enfant terrible Luis Bunuel, known to shocking audiences.

Carriere and Bunuel won an Oscar in 1972 for “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoise”, which brings Carriere’s best short film Oscar in 1963.

His work spanned cultures, religions and historical periods, from “Cyrano de Bergerac” (1990), for which Gerard Depardieu gave one of the performances of his career, to the adaptation of Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” (1988) with Daniel Day-Lewis.

Carrere’s 1979 adaptation of Gunter Grass’ novel “The Tin Drum”, directed by Volker Schloendorff, won another Oscar and the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

He was also nominated for another Oscar for his screenplay “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” with director Philip Kaufman and won a French César in 1983 for best original screenplay for “The Return of Martin Guerre”, starring Depardieu.


In 2014, Carriere was awarded an honorary Oscar for his life’s work on about 80 scripts but also essays, fiction, translations and interviews.

And one of his last films, “At Eternity’s Gate” about the artist Vincent Van Gogh’s last months, was nominated for another, in which Carriere was determined to prove that the painter did not kill himself.

He also enjoyed frequent appearances in front of the camera, with roles opposite Juliette Greco, Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau.

Former Cannes Film Festival President Gilles Jacob led the celebrations, saying that Carriere was France’s finest screenwriter ever.

“You were the boss,” he added.

Born on September 17, 1931 into a family of winegrowers, his parents moved near Paris in 1945 to open a café.

Career was a star student and continued to study at one of France’s elite Grandes Ecoles. At 26, he had written his first novel.

He said he enjoyed being at the service of a director and slipping into their mindset.

“I have no ego,” he once said.

“Meetings, friendships and life teachers” marked his life, from the Dalai Lama to the great surrealist Bunuel.

An important meeting was with the acclaimed British director Peter Brook with whom he adapted the Sanskrit Hindu girl “Mahabharata” for stage and screen.

When the game version was performed at the Avignon Festival in 1985, it ran for nine hours to a surprised audience.

“Looking at it, forgetting that I was the one who wrote it, was one of the great joys of my life,” Carriere said.

Despite the coronavirus restrictions, a tribute will be held for him in Paris, his daughter said, and he will be buried in his hometown of Colombieres-sur-Orb in the south of France.